A Star is Born
Starfy... Starfy... That name rings a bell... er... star. Actually, it probably doesn't for most people. There's definitely a good reason for that as Starfy has had four past video games starting with his debut in 2002 on the Game Boy Advance. The only obstacle here is that no one outside of Japan got a retail release for it... or the sequel... or the sequel of the sequel.. or the-- you get where I'm going with this. Now up to its fifth installment, and Starfy has finally swam all that way into the Western world with The Legendary Starfy for the Nintendo DS. Hopefully after such a long period of time, the wait will be worth it. Is Starfy really legendary, or should this legend have just stayed in Japan?
The legendary Starfy isn't just a hero-- he's the prince of Pufftop, a kingdom in the clouds. Napping one day in his royal chambers, a mysterious visitor, an amnesiac bunny in a space suit, crashed through the ceiling and rammed into our sleeping star. As if one unexpected guest wasn't enough, three more marched into the room. This dastardly trio had orders to capture the bunny. During the commotion, the startled bunny escaped with the shadowy trio pursuing. Starfy, alongside his best friend: a clam named Moe, leap into the sparkling ocean far below. The game has you collecting crystal shards from bosses and major enemies which bring back a piece of Bunston the bunny's memory. It's rather formulaic, and it's nothing we haven't seen before in a video game. The game has some heartfelt moments, but they just come off as cheesy.
The story itself is told through comic book-styled cut-scenes as well as in-game speech bubbles for ordinary conversations. These can all be skipped with a press of the start button for those not caring for prose when it concerns a cute spinning star. As for the in-game visuals, The Legendary Starfy uses an impressive mix between 2-D foreground walls, ceilings, floors, and character sprites and 3-D backgrounds which really show off the DS's power, moreso than other platformers on the system. While most of the enemies are 2-D, a couple bosses are actually rather well-done 3-D models. The music is largely forgettable, but don't be surprised if you come off humming a tune as you play.
The Legendary Starfy has two types of gameplay in it. The first is your traditional run and jump platforming that is synonymous with games of the genre. The second displays Starfy's sensational swimming prowess. Swimming is fast, fun, and easy to do. This isn't Mario taking a plunge in Super Mario World. No, no. Starfy can turn on a dime underwater, boost to gain speed, and use his star spin attack to smash various baddies out of the way as well as bust through walls and other breakable blocks. Use the spin attack too many times in too swift of a succession, and Starfy will become momentarily dizzy and vulnerable to enemy attacks. At the beginning of the game, Starfy doesn't have all of his abilities available to him. As you progress through the game Moe will help the forgetful starman remember his moves one at a time, from the ultra helpful double jump to the slow descent glide move plus many more. If you want to uncover every hidden treasure in the game, you'll need to return to past levels to utilize a move you didn't have when you originally ventured there.
There's plenty of bonus goodies to be had in The Legendary Starfy. There's eight worlds throughout the duration of the game's story with two bonus worlds, one of which features Starfy's precocious sister, Starly. Each world has a different theme from haunted pirate ships, great glaciers, and hot springs to sky high hijinks, a lush tropical lagoon, and even outer space. A map, similar to what you'd see in Donkey Kong Country, ties together all of the levels, although much less detailed. In each world there's four main levels with three secret levels that can be unlocked by finding a special door in a given level and completing a challenge. You'll never do the same type of challenge twice whether you're racing someone to the top of a room, counting bad guys in the background, or taking down all of the enemies in a room. There's also treasure chests in each level to plunder, 102 in all to be exact. Some levels have three while others only have one to find. Some house notes while others hold costumes for Starfy to wear in the pause menu or give Starfy more health or a new bonus to one of Bunston's abilities.
Speaking of Bunston, once you catch up with him and he finally tags along with you, you'll have multiple opportunities throughout the game to transform into one of four animal forms. You'll only get to transform when Bunston is thinking of transforming, and you'll only get to transform into what Bunston is thinking of. Selfish little wascally wabbit. Each transformation has a different use. The red dinosaur can breathe a heavy wall of fire out at enemies while the white seal-like creature can swim through water at a break-neck pace. There's an animal upgrade for each of the four transformations. Collecting these is a must to reach secret areas within the game.
Something that is a must for a good game is good control, and The Legendary Starfy delivers that in spades... er... stars. The control is very accessible to younger players without feeling dumbed down for the older gamer. Just the control pad and face buttons are generally used. B and Y are primarily used in tandem with the control pad in order to perform most of Starfy's moves while the X button enters doors and the like. The touch screen is relegated to changing the HUD where you pearl total (used to purchase new costumes from Moe's shop in the pause menu as well as get character figures from the toy machine) and the options menu is located.
I think the largest problem someone going into The Legendary Starfy will face is that the game is on the easy side. Those who are looking for a serious challenge should stick to Yoshi's Island DS as we're talking Kirby-easy here. Bosses rarely put up a challenge, gaining back health is as simple as picking up five pearls which are generously placed throughout the game, and the levels, while a joy to play, rarely pose a problem for an experienced gamer. Is that to say this game isn't worth playing or owning for someone older? Of course not. Just don't expect your gaming skills to be put through the ringer.... well, until you reach World 10.
The Legendary Starfy is a wonderful platformer that any open-minded DS owner will fall in love with. There's enough content to last upwards of fifteen hours with eight story worlds to complete plus two bonus worlds, multiple treasures to track down, seventy levels to explore, a boss rush mode to tackle, and an adventure that's worth going through over and over. Here's hoping we won't have to wait for five more installments until we get another one of Starfy's adventures.
[SuperPhillip Says: 8.5/10]