Star Dash Review (XBL Indie)

Game Review: Star Dash
Release: January 16, 2011
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Rascal Haven Games
Available Platforms: Xbox Indie Games
Players: 1-4
MSRP: 80 MSP ($1)
ESRB Rating: N/A

Star Dash is a collecting-based platformer that puts your avatar front and center as the main character. You run and jump your way towards the top of the screen, where the finish line  is located, as the screen inches upward. In addition, you’re on a timer ticking down, which can be extended through collecting time bonuses.
Anyone familiar with the language of games, and platformers more specifically, will instinctively know what they’re doing with Star Dash. It’s smart in that it draws from our shared knowledge of the genre, and drops you in. Each level starts, and you jump from platform to platform making your way towards the top of the screen.
Judging distance and time management are the most important mechanics in Star Dash, and both are tied to each other. Missing a jump could potentially mean either falling to your death, or having to double back and lose precious seconds. Similarly, you’ll have to decide if stars and bonuses at one side of the screen are worth the time and effort, or if you should just keep climbing.
Star Dash’s shining quality is it’s sense of hypnotic repetition. The urge to keep jumping and collecting is a strong one, and will carry you through a good couple levels. The animation on your avatar is fairly smooth and fitting, for the most part. The game itself is simple and basic enough to pick up and run with right out of the gate.
All that being said, the game is in serious need of refinement and improvement. The proto-16-bit blocky visuals of Star Dash don’t compliment the fully realized 3d avatar at all, resulting in a look that can be described as jarring at best. This is magnified in that there is really only one level in the game. While it’s true that each levels layout is structured differently, there is only one texture used for all of them. The lack of variety is mirrored in the game play- all you do in every level is jump and run, collecting stars and time bonuses. On top of all this, the soundtrack really needed focus and purpose. At a certain point, I just pressed mute.
Final Say: There’s potential in Star Dash, which makes the final product that much more disappointing. A platformer that utilizes your avatar is an appealing concept, but the final product in this case just isn’t up to snuff. While the game could maybe be seen as a fun diversion for the price, there are so many other better titles available for the same amount, it’s really hard to recommend purchasing Star Dash.
  • Fun core mechanic.
  • Limited variety in both game play and visuals.
  • Spend a good chunk of time with the demo before considering purchase.
Final Score: 4 out of 10

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