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 Post subject: Stellatum (XB1 - PS4 - Switch - PC)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2019 11:38 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 359
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
The beauty of art can be found even when you're on a space battle, those platforms look like ancient carvings.

Back to multi-console indies. This time it's the turn of Stellatum.
The game goes all for the basics as it only features two options: Campaign and Arena

Campaign is your main game. Well, in both modes we're pitted in a Twin-Stick shooter where aiming is done with the right stick while the Right Trigger fires. The first thing we notice is the similarity with Asteroids, mostly on the player's movement as we can control the ship in any direction while we aim in a specific angle.
An interesting feature was the ability of destroying the enemy fire with your regular shots, and having this feature is very useful since the game will throw you several enemies on-screen resulting in a bullet hell curtain that might give Touhou Project a run for its money, You can destroy those bullets not just with your regular shots, you'll also have secondary weapons which can be used for either offensive or defensive purposes like shockwaves, missiles, lasers and force fields. There's also a Repair Drone that comes really in handy because it will fully restore your life and very fast, becoming an essential equipment for your mission.

While the gameplay feels solid and well constructed, it has a series of terrible flaws: To begin with, we have the Turrican flaw of losing energy non-stop, without having a brief moment of invincibility to recover from the first hit. Second, if you lose a life, you'll respawn with half of your energy bar instead of full health, putting your ship in a very un-even situation in moments of being overpowered by the enemy. The Repair Drone takes forever to re-load, making you extremely vulnerable if you don't have it. But the worst of all the problems is the weapon overheating. Like Xenoraid and Contra Rogue Corps, your weapon overheats after a period of time if you keep firing non-stop. If in the mentioned games lack any sense, in Stellatum is the same. This only gives the enemy the chance for free shots against you, which can be frustrating in the very first levels, and turns for the worse in the later ones. Also, if you think that you can resume your firing if you keep holding the Right Trigger, then you're making a terrible mistake 'cos the overheat will not go away until you let the button go and then press it again, resulting in an extremely unorthodox gameplay mechanic. Combine that with the requirement of using your firepower to destroy bullets and frequent instances of being overpowered by common enemies, enemies with a lot of energy, life-sucking enemies and boss battles with enemies that spawn during the battle and you'll have a cascade of problems due to a simple game flaw.

Then count the stars and the ten million woes, just you and the universe judging each other.
We never knew that we'd get caught up stuck in the teenage waste as we explooooode.
As we explooooooooode. As we explooooooode As we let gooooooooo yeah.

The game is considerably long, even longer than Varth: Operation Thunderstorm, as we have 50 missions along with some side missions, so you will have around 60 or 70 levels to complete. You can revisit any of them if you need to gather more Materia or resources.

Build-As-Like: The new way to build a warship with less tools.

Hangar is where the game begins to resemble B-Wings and its multiple ship configurations. In the Hangar you can assemble your ship as you wish. You can equip your ship with extra armor, guns, engines and reactors to increase your firepower and damage tolerance. Remember, to build all these things you need to spend Materia to create new technologies and is good when the game gives you the option of either pick the components between levels or create them spending money.

"No need to hold back... I'm surrounded by enemies."
- Crueltear (Triggerheart Exelica)

Arena is the Never ending survival mode where you're pitted against never-ending hordes of enemies until you're finally defeated. However, for destroying enemies and ending levels you'll earn points and get ship details with random stats. If you die, your points will be resetted, but the combat record and 25% of the items you've get will remain. Along with the overheating, another problem that i've found is that the game most of the times sends you to the battle in a very weak power level and what's worse, it sends you to the higher stages where it requires to be well equipped, resulting in an extremely unbalanced challenge.

Hiiiiighwaaaaay to the Danger Zone!
I'll take you riiiiight iiiiinto the DANGER ZOOOOONE!!

Graphically, the game's cutscenes are based on moving images, kinda like an "Animated Comic", just like Contra Rogue Corps. However, everything seems to be all monochrome, making them boring to see in contrast with the game itself, which despite of being space, space, space, space, space all time, it has some colorful scenarios and structures that help on bringing something different than the black void of the universe surrounding your ship.

The sound department is what anyone could call "repetitive" as the game has like 2 or 3 songs that repeat throughout the game, two "dark" ambient songs and one with suspenseful trumpets playing to make the game's atmosphere somewhat epic, but after 1 or 2 hours of gameplay it becomes boring and forgettable.

- Materia means "Matter" in spanish.
- The ship design is quite evocative of the Big Core from the Gradius series.

No game is complete witout a boss battle, and is better when the bastard is "Multipart" so you can destroy it part by part.

While the game could be called "B-Wings meets Asteroids" because it has the potential and what it needs to win that name, the gameplay frustration factors only makes this game irrating and tedious. A perfect example of how not to make a game if you ask me.
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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