Super Stardust Ultra: the confirmation of a classic – review

How many of you know that the Stardust saga began way back in 1993? The unknown Finnish studio Bloodhouse, published the weird title featuring a mutant penguin on DOS, Amiga and Atari, and also made a sequel shortly after. About twenty years have passed since that day, Bloodhouse has changed its name to Housemarque (following the merger with the Terramarque team), and the meteorite series has now become a classic for all recent Sony platforms.

After appearing on PlayStation 3, PSP and PlayStation Vita, the space twin stick shooter returns to the new console of the Japanese giant with a polished version of Super Stardust HD, released in 2007. This time we find the British d3T to take care of the porting, small studio that includes numerous artists who have collaborated on games such as Killzone: Shadow Fall, LittleBigPlanet 3, the Warhammer saga and many others.

For those unfamiliar with its mechanics, let’s make a quick recap: in command of a spaceship, our task is to survive thousands of meteor storms by moving across the surfaces of three-dimensional planets. The weapons at our disposal are many and include the boost to escape from claustrophobic situations and the classic bombs, but it is the three parts with which the main attack is structured to offer a level of strategy that should not be underestimated.

The multiplier plays a vital role in getting dizzying scores. But be careful not to get hit if you don’t want to lose your bonus count.

In fact, each type of meteorite corresponds to a certain type of attack: green for classic rocks, red for the fiery ones and blue for the icy ones, without counting the other dozens of enemies of various kinds present and which make our life even more complicated.

The feature that most of all surprises in Super Stardust Ultra however, it is the incredible number of modes present in the package: nine. Among these are the classic Arcade mode divided into five planets and four unlockable difficulties, the mode that allows you to face them individually to get the best score, the one in which you must survive as much as possible armed with a limited number of bombs, while in Impatto the the only way to escape is the boost, which recharges slightly every time we come into contact with an enemy.

We then find two absolute novelties in the series such as the Barricade mode, in which our spacecraft accelerates automatically and leaves behind a trail of rocks that can be disintegrated in only two ways: through the boost or by exploding the mines that from time to time swoop down on the planet. The aim of course is to last as long as possible with only one life and three bombs available.

Finally, Interactive Streaming allows you to broadcast your game and gives the possibility to those who are watching us to launch waves of enemies or send meteorites containing power-ups, voting together with other spectators during specific moments. The only real problem is that at the moment there aren’t many people willing to stream the game and often it all boils down to boring runs in the level with little or nothing to do. Sin.

We warn you, the Endless mode is no way out and will suck up most of your free time.

The other features included in Super Stardust Ultra are a basic editor that allows you to customize the aesthetic side of your spacecraft, the ability to bring the shot closer by pressing the DualShock 4 touch pad and to send challenges to our friends after finishing a game. in almost all present modalities.

For those who love to play together there is also a local multiplayer component for up to four players, both cooperative and competitive, but the complete absence of online is surprising (once again), a feature that would go perfectly with this type of game. The rankings and the inevitable section with dozens of statistics close the extras sector.

But if Super Stardust Ultra excels in gameplay and quantity of content, the same cannot be said of the graphics sector that is not entirely up to date. We weren’t expecting the technological wonders of the Fox Engine but at least a proper upgrade over the PlayStation 3 version was the least d3t could do.

The impression of playing on a latest generation platform is practically non-existent and the only graphic difference between the two versions is perceptible in the introduction of the various planets and in the particle effects. For the rest, everything runs as it was then: 1080p resolution at sixty (very stable) frames per second and support for 3D televisions, where however the number of pixels drops down to 720p.

The graphics sector of Super Stardust Ultra does not differ much from the chapter released in 2007 on PlayStation 3. This is perhaps the only real disappointment encountered in the review phase.

Even the soundtrack has not undergone changes except for a few instruments added here and there in the songs that all fans of the series know by heart, but it is always nice to be able to choose between the various versions of the soundtrack, also present in the orchestral and retro versions. Finally, trophy hunters will be happy to know that there is a precious platinum trophy present but it requires a certain amount of dexterity to be conquered.

On balance Super Stardust Ultra is an excellent twin stick shooter just like the original version released in 2007, capable of keeping all lovers of the genre glued for dozens of hours thanks to the multiple modes present (two of which are unpublished) and an immediate gameplay and funny. Sorry only for the almost total lack of a technical improvement and new planets but the amount to shell out to be able to download it in the hard disc of your Playstation 4 (equal to € 12.99), is more than honest for such a product.

In short, if you love shoot’em ups and have not had the opportunity to play them on PlayStation 3, Super Stardust Ultra is the definitive version of the shooter created by Housemarque, all the others could find it a good pastime and diversion between an FPS and an adventure.