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 Post subject: Final Star (XBOX One)
PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:14 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 282
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Sorry for disappoining you with that horrible Super Star Blast. So, let's check another XB1 shmup, and i think Final Star will be quite better than my last review.

The plot of this game involves the survival of the last known life forms in the universe since all the stars known have burned out, only one sun remains and is guarded by the Final Star Armada. While everyone is welcomed to that last solar system, the Manakroids refused to accept the terms of the Final Star Armada and began a war where they took over the last solar system and its last sun. Now with the help of Captain Aldis and the female operator Jana, is up to you to retake this agonizing system so civilization can live their last days peacefully.

Finding a needle in the Final Star haystack. There's an Euromusic app, so you can hear classic Hi-NRG and Italodisco hits from eons ago.

As soon as the opening begins you'll be on the ship's cockpit where you can select which planet do you want to go or select upgrades for your three available ships. Selecting a planet will require to move the camera around the cockpit, because there's planets and space stations in all the "windows" on the canopy, not just on the front of the ship. You can ease the search for missions with the Left and Right Bumpers (LB/RB Buttons) for the sake of saving time.

There's three types of ships at your disposal, each one of them has its unique levels to fulfill the basic needs of the fighter pilot; those needs are speed, power or simply having a balance of everything.

HYDRA: This ship is the "Balance type" ship, your all-rounder that provides you with the appropiate speed, fire rate, defense and attack power.
ATTACK - 7/30
FIRE RATE - 13/30
DEFENSE - 7/30
SPEED - 9/30

LYNX: The "Built for Speed" type of ship, meant to be a fast attacker, even at the cost of weak firepower and weak armor.
ATTACK - 6/30
FIRE RATE - 16/30
DEFENSE - 5/30
SPEED - 11/30

GEMINI: No ship variety is complete without the "Power Type" which sacrifies speed for the sake of powerful attacks and strong armor.
ATTACK - 9/30
FIRE RATE - 11/30
DEFENSE - 9/30
SPEED - 7/30

Can we call this game "U.N. Squadron in Space" already?

In the upgrade screen you can use the accumulated gold to buy Active and Passive Skills, Scrap works as currency to increase your levels of Health and Energy. The upgrades for Attack, Fire Rate, Defense and Speed are rewards obtained by completing stages and Mercenary Missions.
It is important to know that Active/Pasive Skills and levels of Health and Energy apply for all three ships. Also, you don't have to spend all of your scrap to increase a level of Energy/Health, you only hold the A button until you reach the desired amount of scrap spent. This is very helpful for those who want to upgrade and still save cash.

The only things that are not applied for all three ships are the "Power levels" of your ship, those are selected specifically for each ship.
ATTACK: This status represents the damage delivered to your enemies.
FIRE RATE: How fast and continous can be your stream of bullets (Example: From - - - - to ---------- ), a faster stream of bullets also means additional damage due to its "Machine Gun" effect.
DEFENSE: This indicates how resistant is your ship against enemy fire, it's up to you to make that brittle ship become a flying tank in terms of resistance.
SPEED: This status doesn't need too much explanations. It represents how fast your ship moves.

To obtain upgrades for your ship you have to select missions, before you start you can see what are going to offer you (Example: Attack [Gemini], Defense [Hydra], Fire Rate [Lynx]), you are given the option of "Re-Roll" the reward by pressing the X Button. You can re-roll three times per mission. Learning about this is essential to build the ultimate spaceship. My strategy is to increase the Attack and Fire Rate above Speed and Defense. Once the Attack and Fire Rate are maxed, you're virtually unstoppable. Also, all three ships can be maxed up since they have the same weapons, the only thing that changes is the ship design and bullet color/shape, pretty much like in Shienryu Explosion, where the pilot only added personality and different beam color.

VERTICAL DASH: The Dash feature of the game. Unlike the dashing in Megaman X, the Vertical Dash allows you to boost vertically across the screen to get out of the enemy or their attacks by pressing the A Button. This Skill can be upgraded 2 more times, resulting in a 3-Level skill. Upgrading it reduces the recharge rate.

BOMB: The Air-to-Ground weapon. Fires a small bomb that makes a considerably big explosion after being dropped. The bomb is fired with the B Button, and it requires to re-load before using it again. This is a 3-Level Skill and with each level it will add 2 and finally 4 bombs.

MISSILE VOLLEY: Air-to-Air weapon. Fires a large amount of missiles at once, for additional firepower. The only drawback is being unable to move while firing. To fire the Missile Volley, press the X Button.

TEMPORARY SHIELD: The Force Field feature of the game, this Skill activates a shield that covers your ship for 3 seconds. The Shield is activated by pressing the Y Button. Further upgrading of this 3-Level Skill increases the time from 3 to 5 seconds.

SATELLITE LASERS: Your companion Satellites will fire Energy Lasers, increasing their firepower. They are also the bullet destroying weapon of the game. To activate this weapon, press the Left Trigger. Keep in mind, this weapon consumes energy a la Megaman, so use it when its necessary. This upgrade doesn't require to re-buy in order to increase its power since this is a 1-Level only Skill.

RAPID CANNON: Increases the firepower of your ship with a Basic, yet Quick Firing attack to the Primary Weapon. Like the Satellite Lasers, this is another 1-Level Skill.

MAGNETIC VACUUM: This upgrade generates a Tractor Beam which pulls scrap into your ship once you stop firing, just like the Bonus Items from Triggerheart Exelica. Further upgrading reduces the required time to activate the beam.

ENERGY RECHARGE: Remember the Energy consumption of the Satellite Lasers?, This upgrade will allow to regain Energy Points overtime. Further upgrading increases the amount of EP recovered.

HEALTH RECHARGE: This upgrade grants you the ability of recovering HP with time, Each upgrade increases the amount of HP regained over time.

CANISTER MISSILE: This is the Subweapon for your ship. Fires a powerful missile with your primary weapon. Buying the upgrade for a second and third time increases the rate of fire of the missiles.

There's seven types of missions in this game, we already know they give you rewards, but also they're key elements in your way around the last habitable Solar System.

MISSION OBJECTIVE: Marked with a gold star, these are your main missions to complete in order to progress further in the game. Before you decide to pick a Mission, you can Re-Roll the rewards in case you don't like what they offer at first. Also, the Mission Objectives give you three rewards.

MERCENARY MISSION: Marked with an "M", these are your optional side missions that you can take for obtaining more resources and upgrades. Like in the regular Missions, you are given the option of re-rolling your rewards and offers you two random rewards.

SUICIDE MISSION: Marked with a skull on a sight, this is a "Survival" type of mission where the amount of scrap increases based on how long you can stand in the stage. If you don't die on any of these two missions, they will end when the Scrap count hits 1,065. This is also the only mission where you don't get rewards.

REPEATER MISSION: Marked with a "Refresh" symbol (two arrows forming a circle), As its name implies, these are the missions that you can take again and again and again for the sake of extra scrap, gold and rewards. However, the mission will increase its difficulty with each cleared stage.

MARATHON MISSION: Mared with a "world" icon, the Marathon Missions are larger than your ordinary Missions, but they give you greater rewards if you pick them. This mission offers Four rewards.

ESCORT MISSION: Marked with a "two ship formation" icon, These missions involve to protect a freighter from enemy attacks. The objective here is to destroy all enemies while keeping the freighter alive. These missions offer only two rewards.

ARCADE MISSION: Marked with an Atari 2600-like controller. These are Side Missions done in Atari 2600 like graphics and sounds. They're good for some extra Scrap, Gold and Resources. You also get two rewards.

A rejected boss from Super C?, not exactly.

The gameplay is your traditional horizontal shooter with basic button configuration. The firing button is the Right Trigger, which breaks with the traditional use of the basic A,B,X, or Y button configuration. Your ship has two Satellites similar to the Bits from R-Type and the Io's from Pulstar/Blazing Star. You can "combine them" by moving the right stick to the right, resulting in a full frontal shot. This is called the "Closed Formation" and is the "Power" shot of your ship. This weapon configuration is very reminiscent of DonPachi, and like such game, the "Power" shot slows your ship speed, in order to avoid enemy fire, since this game is one of those that fire bullet curtains and fast bullets. Also, all three ships have the same weapon configuration: Normal "wide" straight shot and full linear "Power" shot. Their only difference is the configuration of each ship.
A problem that i've found in this game is that the enemy sometimes will fire very fast bullets, even worse than Strikers 1945 III, and those fast bullets most of the times are small projectiles. This problem can be found when you pick the Repeater Missions for the 10th time, as the bullets go in absurdely fast speeds.

If you die the mission will fail and you'll be sent back to the mission selection screen where you can either select the stage again or enter the Upgrade screen. It's pretty much like in the SNES version of U.N. Squadron where you're bounced back to Saki's Mission Briefing room followed by McCoy Storehouse before re-starting a mission.

Getting cash while playing a console, wish everyone could had the same luck such as this unnamed pilot.

During your campaign and after completing a few Mercenary Missions, you will unlock a handheld console known as the Geocrosis, where you can play "Geocosis". The game itself is a clone of Sega's Columns and Compile's Puyo Puyo. You can use it to win Scrap, Gold and resources without needing to go on a mission. One reminder: You'll only get rewards from Levels 1 to 24.

NOTE: I've heavily suggest you to play the Geocrosis game during your first time playing, 'cos there's instances where the screen locks after pushing the Y button and you can hear the sounds of the Geocrosis game playing, but the screen is locked on the cockpit view. Seems like there's a glitch that requires to be fixed.

No, it's not Superman on the 2600, although it looks like it.

Another unlockable mission can be found in the Mercenary Missions, and that's the Arcade Missions. These which are downscaled versions of the game rendered in an Atari 2600 style. To unlock the Arcade Missions you have to find a robot named Cordey, he will unlock the Arcade Missions. While these missions are helpful in upgrading your ships, doing the job will be more difficult than usual since the Arcade Missions are played with the ship in "default power levels" and without the extra weapons obtained, and what's worse, the enemy will be using their bullet hell tactics, making things tough.

Once you're done with all the missions, you'll be given the option to start a new game or go to the Second Quest. Selecting the Second Quest will keep your resources and upgrades, but the game will be harder. Also, it will "Re-lock" the Geocrosis mini-game as it is a reward from Mercenary Missions, along with the Arcade Missions. Once you finish the Second Quest you'll be on a Third one. After the Third one, you'll keep going in another quest, but the achievements only cover the second and third quests.
Something worth of mention is the fact that despite having "in-game conversations", the game is not interrupted by them, just like in Otomedius Excellent and Sylpheed: The Lost Planet, and that's for the best when it comes to having plot-lines in a shooter.

Taking the heat while dodging hits.

The graphic design is quite decent in this game, with very detailed spaceship designs and large vessels, the only problem is the dark colors in most of them because it hides some of the details such as panels and mechanical segments, making them to look like shadows, specially the bosses. The scenery seems to use multiple layers adding depth to the stage and there's some background effects like the "blur" in the desert planet to recreate the heat of the desert.

If there's one thing to criticize is the simplicity of the gauge, all they give you is just a very small bar with the HP number written on it and a smaller one for the Energy. Both gauges increase their size on each level up just like the lifebar in Megaman X does with the Heart Tanks. But still they're quite too small, so you wouldn't notice when you'll either ran out of Sub-weapon's Energy or if you die until its way too late. If the idea was to give all the visibility possible to the player, i think they should learn from the example given by Thunder Force V Perfect System, where you can toggle on or off the status bar by pushing a button.

The Arcade Missions graphics are very Atari 2600 accurate in most terms, and the simplicity of the colors are the typical of the Atari "Inhouse" game library, and i think they could give a try to something more reminiscent of Chopper Command since the 2600 was more capable with the gradient coloring, also, the player ship's sprite reminds me more of the Sega SG-1000 and games like Sega-Galaga.

¿Are the ships drones or the pilots are from a race of Lilliputian humanoids?

I've also found a problem with proportions in two of the game's city based levels. In "The big gun" stage, you can see the ship is smaller than the lamp posts and the thing is worse the last planet based stage as you can see a car in the background that is bigger than your ship, if we compare this with the second stage of Carrier Air Wing, we will notice that Final Star really has a problem with proportions. It begs for an explanation.

Here we go with this [EXPLETIVE] again...and YES!, I wish Minami Nitta was my operator than that ugly atrocity.

The character portraits by the artist Crysta Tim are what i can call "Newgrounds tried to pull a Ruby-Spears and failed", because the drawing style tries to resemble the drawing styles of the mid-late 80's Ruby-Spears cartoons such as Centurions: Power Xtreme and Lazer Tag Academy, but failing miserably as they look as the game puked out a cheap flash animation that you can find in Newgrounds combined with Klasky-Csupo (All Grown Up and Rocket Power). Makes me wish that my operator was Minami Nitta than that horrible looking girl Jana. Sorry, Dynamic Voltage and Crysta Tim, but i prefer the anime style than the atrocious characters you've made. Just give a try to anime style next time, you'd be surprised.

The sound department somewhat reminds me of the early CD-based consoles like the PC Engine CD and the Sega CD due to the cheesy music, just like Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire, Lords of Thunder and Super Darius II. There's a couple of vocal songs that reminds me of Daft Punk in style and synthetization. The first one is heard during the mission where you find Cordey and the last one is during the credits, the voice synthetization sounds very reminiscent of Daft Punk's Homework and Human After All, as well as the remixes album Daft Club.

- The promotional video "XBOX One Does" was a pun to Sega's "Genesis Does what Nintendon't" commercials to advertise the Genesis and make fun of Nintendo.
- The premise of the last star in the known universe implies that the events of this game take trillions of years in the future, Somewhere between 80-90 trillion years.
- For an universe where all stars are dead there's plenty of stars shining in the distance, along with colorful nebulae. That's one huge error since dead stars are no longer producing light and thus, are no longer visible in the sky/space.
- Although the game takes place in a far away solar system, the blue screen of the cockpit has an image of Earth on it, you can see the continent of Europe and Greenland on it. Not to mention, the continent is shown in it's present day appearance, unlike the supercontinent that will become millions of years in the future which could be Novopangaea, Aurica, Amasia or Pangaea Ultima. Not to mention the Supercontinent Cycle would last for a couple billion years until the Earth's core solidifies and the planet becomes as lifeless as Mars.
- The Handheld Geocrosis console is a ripoff of the Nintendo Game Boy in design and shape.
- There's several errors of caligraphy, mostly on the mispelling of the word "Hangar" as "Hanger", we don't know if the correct spelling of the Gameboy-thing is "Geocrosis" or "Geocosis", there's words without separations like "locationsthat", and the achievement list names the Missile Canister as "Cannister".
- The ending implying that all life forms will die within days along with the Final Star indicates the star is about to enter on its White Dwarf phase, when the star is no longer millions of degrees in temperature but only 100,000°C/180,000°F which is not enough to sustain an Habitable Zone (or Goldilocks Zone) for planets.

Final Star is what you can call "U.N. Squadron meets DonPachi in Space" as its gameplay is very reminiscent of Capcom's Area 88-based shooter; Engage, get paid and invest in upgrades combined with some basic bullet hell elements from Cave's classic shmup, resulting in a very unique space combat experience.
Fan of Transformers, Shmups and Anime-styled Girls. You're teamed up with the right pilot!
Bringing you shmup reviews with humorous criticism.

STG Wikias: Thunder Force Wiki - Wikiheart Exelica - Ginga Force Wiki

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