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Super Stardust Delta Review

Super Stardust Delta  - 877366

Sony’s launch line-up for the PlayStation Vita isn’t too bad at all.  There seems to be something for everyone, even if every game doesn’t quite take advantage of the system’s dual analog sticks – a big selling point that Sony pushed last year upon its introduction.  But leave it to Housemarque to make proper use out of them with the latest entry in its twin-stick Super Stardust series, aptly named Delta.

This is no mere port of the original Super Stardust HD, or even a variation of Super Stardust Portable for the PSP.  Nope, Delta is its own animal, built on some different rules as you play through each stage.  The general goal is still the same – blast enemies and asteroids on the surface of a planet as you rotate around it – but how you play has changed a bit.  Instead of relying on three types of firepower, you now have two – fire and ice – and switch between them regularly depending on whether you’re shooting at rocks covered in lava or ice.  (Glowing green rocks still destroy either way, though, and harbor power-ups.)

Special weapons have changed up a bit.  Along with the EMP bomb that destroys everything within close range, you also have access to limited weapons such as missiles that fire out from all directions at your enemies, and a black hole bomb, which sucks up everyone within range – including you, if you aren’t careful.  Clear a certain amount of stages and you’ll face an end boss, a nasty number like Buzzsaw or something along those lines.

Like its predecessor, Super Stardust Delta packs a whole lot of fun for its $9.99 price tag.  You’ll be able to choose between original and new Delta modes here, and work your way up the leaderboards to get the best score possible.  (Network features were still slightly iffy when the game first debuted, but when the system makes its “official” launch on the 22nd, they should be sorted out.)  The included mini-games aren’t bad either, though the main shooting course is the one to go with.

If that’s not enough, you can also buy a supplementary Blast Pack with four extra modes, including Endless, Impact, Bomber and Twin Gun.  Out of all of these, Twin Gun is probably the newest, as you tilt your system to control your ship while the analog sticks control the cannons.  The only downside to this pack is that it runs almost as much as the game itself, around $8.  C’mon, Sony, you couldn’t have priced this at $3 or $5? 

That complaint aside, the gameplay is excellent.  The twin sticks handle just fine for a game such as this, though your thumbs might go a little numb over time.  The other weapons are activated through touch screen or by shaking the system, and while these gestures work fine, you can always remap them to the old-fashioned D-pad or other buttons, if you prefer.  Nice to have options.

Super Stardust Delta is one of the more dazzling showcases you’ll see on your PS Vita.  The graphics are quite reminiscent of the original Stardust, with great 3D rotating planets, plenty of spiffy weapon effects, and all sorts of enemies popping on the screen, with little to no slowdown.  The music, consisting of a mixture between awesome new Delta tunes and classic Stardust favorites, is perfect for headphone listening, and the sound effects do plenty of good here – especially that neat Black Hole opening effect.  “YAWWWWWW!”

Considering most other games go for a higher price ($15 and up), Super Stardust Delta is the cheap gem of the PS Vita launch, and highly recommended even if shooters aren’t exactly “your thing”.  The controls are responsive, the leaderboards addictive and the presentation dazzling.  This is definitely a must for your PS Vita library.  Day one, baby.

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Robert Workman
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