It seems an essential ingredient to have a stellar twin stick shooter on your next generation console these days. One of the 360’s best games so far has, arguably, been the super popular Geometry Wars. To that end, it must be something of a relief to Sony that Housemarque came along with Super Stardust HD for the Playstation Network.
On first impression, this isn’t a million miles away from Stardust games back on the good old Amiga. It was famous back then for its ground breaking visuals and fast-action gameplay. The series has always been built around a re-imagining of asteroids, but it is only now that we see the introduction of the twin sticks. The left analogue stick is used for directional control, whilst the other analogue stick is used to shoot in any direction. Add to this a warp and smart bomb and you have the basics of the control scheme.
Power-ups in Super Stardust HD introduce another layer to the game. You can switch between three different weapons at will; rock, ice and gold. More interestingly, each different firepower can be powered up. Whilst you start with what amounts to a set of pea shooters, when fully charged they become a set of mage weapons.
These aspects, asteroids, twin sticks and power-ups all work together to deliver a compelling play experience. As with all good shooters, the longer you play the more it feels like a rhythm action game as you get into a groove. The controls are nice and direct so that with a bit of play under your belt you don’t need to think about what you want to do; you just instinctively control your craft from the gut.
Whilst this game will only really appeal to the hard core shooter fan, there is plenty of enjoyment here for all the family. And when a game looks this good, it really is a joy to watch even if you aren’t playing. There are few other play experiences of this quality that you can get for £3.99. This is certainly setting the bar high for PSN, and with Little Big Planet and Pixel Junk Racers fast approaching, it looks like they have got off to a flying start.