One of the initial launch titles for the Playstation Vita, Super Stardust Delta is the follow on from the similarly titled Super Stardust HD for both the Playstation 3 and the previous handheld device, the PSP.
The premise for this game is extremely simple really. At its heart its a classic arcade shooter drawing heritage from the likes of Atari’s Asteroids. You play the part of a small nimble ship on screen that has to survive a bombardment of large asteroids and rock formations, mines and other more nerferious creatures out to get you. You are armed with a variety of systems to help you clear the screen of these.
You have two main weapons which are more effective against certain enemy types. Boiled down this is a simple game, you use the red coloured weapon against red coloured enemies and rocks and you use the blue coloured weapon against the blue coloured enemies. The red weapon is a lightning whip kind of affair which you use to slice the enemies to pieces but the one slight drawback is that because it is a ‘whip’ style weapon it has a limited range so you need to get fairly close to your enemies, at least to begin with. The blue ‘ice blaster’ weapon has a longer range and has a wider dispersal but feels slower and at low levels has wider gaps between the dispersal volleys so you need to position yourself with a bit of care to make sure you hit what you need to. As you go through the levels you pick up weapon power ups which increase the weapons range, power and speed. Along with this you occasionally pick up a ‘weapon overload’ which basically sends your weapon into overdrive and either coloured weapon will wreak havoc on any enemy for a short time before returning to normal.
As well as your two main weapons you have a few special limited weapons. These are available in certain games types and not in others so play about and see where you get what and what you like to use. The first is a huge burst of speed. This allows you to become invincible for a short time and crash through enemies as well as travelling large distances in record speed. This used tactically can be great for smashing through rocks and picking up a host of power ups in short time or getting out of trouble at the last possible second.
The second limited weapon is a missile strike. Once launched, a 360% spread of homing missiles fire out from your ship and wipe out anything nearby. Again this weapon is best used as almost a last resort weapon to save yourself from impending doom.
The next in your arsenal of limited weapons is the deadly ‘Black Hole Blast’. This does exactly what it says. It opens a black hole on screen and sucks all ememies that get too close into it. Although this weapon is in theory the most deadly, I found that i didn’t use it as much as i first thought i would as the destroyed enemies don’t drop the power ups and so i preferred to use other ways to destroy them, leaving this weapon as another of the ones kept back for life saving manouvers.
The last of your limited weapons is the bombs that along with the speed burst have come across from the Stardust HD game. These are nice and simple bomb blasts, the destroy close by enemies. Simple but very effective
This title is a huge score chase. It is split up into different game types and within each is a leaderboard so you can see what your friends have scored and who you need to beat to become top of the scoreboard. The available game types are:
Arcade, their version of the ‘story mode’ where you play from the beginning and fight through the different worlds battling the end bosses before moving on to the next. Your score carries through the levels with you till the end. In this arcade you can choose to play in either PURE or DELTA styles. In pure mode it is similar to the original Super Stardust HD game where the screen stays consistant and you use the buttons only (and the analogue sticks) to control your ship. Choosing this mode though will restrict you from using both the black hole blast and the missile strike. The DELTA game mode is where this title shines. Choosing this mode will give you full access to all the weapons and features that they have packed into this title and takes advantage of what the Playstation Vita can do. The touch controls and the motion controls activate as well. You can fire off the missile strike by touching the front screen and the black hole blast can be activated from using the rear touch pad. As you tilt and move the Playstation Vita around the background screen moves as well giving you a great sense of perspective and the abilitiy to see more of the screen and get a better eye on what enemies are coming towards you. In both the PURE and DELTA modes of arcade mode you have different difficulty levels called CASUAL, NORMAL and HARDCORE.
Planets, this is pretty much a way to choose which particular level you want to play on and a chance to post the highest score possible on a particular planet to challenge your friends. In this mode you also have the choice of both PURE and DELTA modes as in the arcade mode and is a great way to practice in shorter bursts before going for that high score run in arcade.
Endless. In this mode you are faced with a constant stream of different enemies and your sole mission is to last as long as possible and get the biggest score possible. Lasting as long as possible isn’t as easy as it sounds as the enemies increase in both size and frequency so at times you can feel overwhelmed and get yourself into trouble. This mode also employs the PURE and DELTA modes of play.
Bomber. All you are armed with here is a limited supply of bombs. You start off with 10 and there are opportunities to pick up more as you play but they are in short supply so they need to be used wisely. You also have only one life so you need to plan where you are going to use a bomb to cause maximum damage and also give you an escape path.
Impact. Impact mode is similar to bomber as you are limited to one weapon and one life. In this instance you have your speed burst weapon and your objective is to crash through as much as possible. The more you crash through, the longer your speed burst lasts.
Twin Gun. This is a unique game type. Its a little difficult to get to grips with but don’t let that put you off as its great fun. In this mode you have two primary weapons, either two red ‘whips’ or two ‘ice blasters’. You use the two analogue sticks to control the direction of fire you want these weapons to indipendantly move in which means you have a much greater field of fire. The movement of the ship is controlled by the motion sensors in the Vita. You tilt the Vita to go forwards and backwards etc while using the analogue sticks to fire. It feels a bit disorientating at first but its a great way to see just what the Vita can do and how responsive it is.
There is also a host of mini games they have added which add some nice distractions for the player who wants a quick gaming blast while on the move. These game modes are called: Crush, Disk Slice, Orbit Bomber, Rock & Roll and Trucker. All of these mini games employ one or more of the Vitas little features and can be good fun to play about with.
Everything in Super Stardust Delta looks shiny and textured well. The smaller enemies look nice but the really impressive enemies are the varied bosses. Each boss has a certain fighting style and a certain way to destroy them which is fairly easy to pick up on and do. The boss levels don’t drag on too long and none of them feel too hard over overwhelming. This game has been designed to be fun and draw you in to playing over and over again and you get that sence with the bosses. They are harder than the usual enemies and rightfully so but you don’t mind replaying levels and taking them on as you feel that each time you play them you can do better and therefore make your final score just that much better and by doing so, move you up the leaderboard.
This game has been designed purely for the Vita and it shows. The sound in this game is a personal highlight. It has a nice classic arcade shooter inspired soundtrack but brought nicely up to date and feels perfectly matched with the game. The Vita’s speakers do a great job of making it sound clear and loud enough without distorting anything. The graphics are crystal clear and super smooth. Everything is bright and colourful. Its the kind of game where it helps show off just what the screen and the gameplay on the Playstation Vita is capable off. If i was showing the system off to someone, this title would defiantly be one id be using to show off just how smooth it can be. This comes from both the Vita being a great piece of gaming hardware but also just how good this game is at using all the aspects and features available to it without making it feel lie they used them just because they were there to be used. Not too little, not too much, Housemarque got this title just right.
All in all i would consider this game a must buy for any arcade shooter fans. Lovers of the previous Super Stardust HD will love the updated feel to this game. New players will feel like they have a fully playable, well rounded score chase game that will keep them entertained for a very very long time. The original was a hit from the day it was released right up until present day and with this new iteration on the Playstation Vita i feel that Delta will have similar success here.
Score = 95%
Will you be playing in 12 months = YES!
Available on: Playstation Vita
Graham Coe (Jedi Junkie)
Photos courtesy of Google Images.