Game Review: StarDrone
Release: April 6, 2011
Available Platforms: PSN
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Website: Official Website
From the minds that brought you Playstation Minis Enigmo and Jane’s Hotel, comes a different take on puzzle-gaming. Combining pinball mechanics within a blanket of collect’em-all dynamics, StarDrone should fulfill your desire for quality content on the puzzle department. Except it doesn’t.
StarDrone is a interesting-looking puzzle game that puts you in control of some sort of spaceship that has ironically little control over itself; from the moment it’s launched, it will go on a straight line until it hits something. The only way to deliberately modify the ship’s route is to attach it to a hub, which will make it run in circles around the hub’s orbit (whose direction is indicated in the interface). That way, you’ll be able to complete the various missions that are usually pretty similar; namely collecting all stars across the level, or gathering pieces of a certain shape.
The controls are simple enough, usually requiring you to press a button to attach to a hub, and the stick (or Playstation Move) to select said hub. You also have the ability of temporarily becoming a supernova (by eating stars), which will make your ship able of beating big ship-eating monsters, as well as some fast lanes that will carry the ship automatically in a certain direction. The rest is physics and timing, and that’s where StarDrone’s difficulty rests. You see, the speed and angle your ship has when attaching to a hub will affect the velocity and general trajectory such object will take after said hit, so it’s possible to crash on hazards like spikes spread across the level’s limits. Fortunately, the first levels to offer that kind of challenge, are rather small, and pretty trial-and-error in nature, so you can hopefully get a grasp of the game’s dynamics for the latter levels.
Even if you master timing in StarDrone, the game does a poor job in delivering tight controls. It will become very common to select the wrong hub, taking a bad turn, or accidentally getting into those fast automatic lanes; often resulting in a controller-mashing death. That happens because of a substantial inaccuracy of the game’s mechanics that will certainly be a deal-breaker among puzzle enthusiasts. It’s noteworthy the game’s implementation of PlayStation Move is a rather sloppy one, as it will make the controls even more inaccurate and unbearable; it’s cool to see developers taking advantage of Sony’s motion controllers, but this is definitely not the way to go.
Lastly, StarDrone features adequate graphics and sound (graphics having a fair amount of detail and a nice art direction), although both aspects will get incredibly repetitive pretty fast. On the other hand, the game does have a lot of replay value, with its 50 levels and a scoring system that will challenge you further, assuming of course, that you can bear the game’s somehow cheap difficulty.
Julian’s Final Say
Puzzle games are about fast and precise gameplay, within simple yet strategic mechanics. StarDrone features none of that. It has an interesting concept that I honestly wanted to like, but the controls are so sloppy I just wasn’t able to do so. Only recommended if you’re absolutely starving for more puzzle gaming.
- Adequate presentation
- Good replay value
- Sloppy, inaccurate controls that almost entirely breaks the experience
Final Score: 3 out of 10