Review: Super Stardust Ultra
Housemarque has amazing talent. There is no denying that, as every single game they produce in my opinion is groundbreaking. Super Stardust Ultra is no exception. The game is a half-port/ half-remake of Super Stardust HD, one of Housemarque’s claims to fame on PS3. The game has new features such as a mode titled blockade, and a cool new interactive streaming platform designed exclusively for the PS4. Along with the visual enhancements Super Stardust is even better on the PS4, but not that different.
The base game for Super Stardust is simple. You play as a ship trying to defend planets from an onslaught of asteroids and alien enemies with 3 different weapons. All of the asteroids and enemies are themed towards one of your ships weapons which are the Rock Crusher, Gold Melter, and the Ice Splitter. Your ship also has bombs if you get stuck and a boost to get across the planet fast. This is the basis of the game, and what all of the other modes expand upon. To best review all of the game, I’ve put all of the game modes in a list to give a better sense of what the game has to offer.
This is the vanilla game mode and arguably the best part. There are 5 planets, each more difficult from the last. Your score transfers across planets, and a multiplier increases the longer you stay alive. The arcade and planet modes are pure score-chasing fun and a blast to play. However, there is an insane difficulty spike between the 3rd and 4th planets that is extremely frustrating. The rest of the game is hard, that’s one of the reasons why it’s great, but the difficulty increase was immense. It felt unfair, and really took some of the fun out of the arcade mode.
Endless is a mode with no modifiers, except that it goes forever. You are given 2 ships, 3 bombs, and an infinite amount of time to rack up points. It’s a great game mode to compete with friends and for using the challenge feature to compare your score. Endless is a lot of fun and also good for long gaming sessions (if you’re good, of course).
Survival is a mode where you have one life and 3 bombs, with silver balls raining down from the sky at a rapid pace. This is one of the weaker modes, because it frankly just wasn’t that fun. It usually doesn’t last long, and there’s not really much skill to it. Your ship eventually becomes overwhelmed by the balls and you die. I felt it could have been better if the time to death was a little longer, and the mode required more skill than it does.
Bomber I felt was the worst of the 9 modes because it had pretty much nothing to it. Your weapons and your boost are taken away, and you are only given 10 bombs to survive with and gain points. It’s just a boring mode and I don’t really think it fits in with the rest of the action packed game modes in Stardust. Bomber could have benefited from some more excitement, but it’s just left a boring way to play.
Time Attack allows you to play a modified version of one planet at a time with no interruptions and no phases. You have to try to beat the planet in the fastest amount of time possible to succeed. It’s fun, exciting, and a blast to play. It definitely fits in with the core game.
Impact is another great mode. You have no weapons, but your boost extends a short amount for every enemy or asteroid you blast through. It’s awesome to get massive combos and destroy everything with your boost. A very enjoyable mode to play.
Blockade is decent. You have a weapon and enemies spawn, but the real challenge is that an indestructible blue chain of rocks is constantly coming out of the back of your ship. The only way to break the chain is by using a bomb or boosting through it. The goal is to last as long as possible before you are either killed by an enemy or your own blockade. Like the survival mode, I wish that the rounds lasted longer. I always felt like I was dying right away. It’s frustrating to try over and over again making the mode monotonous and not very fun.
I tried out interactive streaming with some friends the other day, and its pretty fun if you have a decent sized crowd. Other than that, it’s basically endless mode rehashed into another mode. Unless you have a good following on Twitch or some friends willing to help you out or try to kill you, its not that great of a mode.
So those are all of the game modes, but also included are 3 co-op modes. Arcade mode is altered into 2 different ways to play it with a friend. The first is the classic co-op where both players have to fit on the screen and fight off enemies, but the new mode is split screen co-op where both players can go where they please. Both are all in good fun, but don’t last for too long. The new versus mode that was included isn’t that great and feels rushed. All of the co-op is very average and great for people who want to play together, but it probably won’t last you very long.
The updated visuals are a treat and look wonderful on PS4. The new colors really pop on PS4 and the weapons and particle effects are all beautiful too. Sadly I wasn’t able to try out the 3D capabilities, but going off of what the PS3’s looked like, it’s probably still pretty good. And the music continues to be amazing from the PS3 version as well.
Super Stardust Ultra is a port of an incredible game. Some fun stuff was added, but the base game is what shines. I don’t know whether that is a positive or a negative, but the game as a whole is pure arcade fun. Most of the new and old modes were really exiting, but there were some sleepers as well. The visuals were gorgeous and the music was still amazing too. Super Stardust Ultra is a classic which everyone deserves to give a try, but if you’ve played before, proceed with caution.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Better Visuals.
- Still awesome music.
- Scorechasing fun in every mode.
- Pretty much the same game.
- Some great game modes..
What I Dislike:
- ..But some bad ones too.
- Pretty much the same game.