This isn’t Housemarque’s first portable release in their Stardust series but the previous one was a fairly lacklustre affair, stymied by the PSP’s control restrictions. This PlayStation Vita outing is something of a fresh start for the Stardust name on portables then, and it won’t be held back by hardware this time.
Super Stardust Delta is practically the same as the PS3 version, with a few important differentiations. There are now three different special weapons, although they all make use of the same limited pool of Special Attacks. There is a bomb, as in the PS3 version but there is also the option to create a miniature black hole which swallows up smaller asteroids and enemies or let loose a radial burst of missiles to stave off enemies and allow yourself a little space.[drop2]The three weapons of previous Stardust games have been cut down to just two. Perhaps “honed” is a better way to describe the reduction though. Only having two weapons to switch between, via a shoulder button, means that you don’t waste valuable hundredths of a second cycling to the correct weapon for taking down a particular enemy.
Delta is far too fast and chaotic for cycling through weapon banks. You’ll need to master the art of weapon switching too, different enemies and asteroids require different weapons. The Ice weapon is a blue hail of pellets and best used on blue enemies and rocks. The Fire weapon snakes around like a sparkling oxy/acetylene torch emitted from your tiny craft and is best used against red targets.
Using the wrong weapon type for a certain enemy results in much reduced damage.
In the default mode, your boost button engages a kind of slow motion effect as it bursts you through rocks and gets you out of the way of the encroaching enemies. If you prefer the classic Stardust boost, you can play in Pure mode, which removes the slow motion boost as well as the two new special weapons, making Delta much more similar to the PS3 version’s gameplay.
There’s also a neat bit of gyro control which allows you to tilt the device slightly and peek around the horizon. This can be more of a hindrance sometimes, depending on how you’re holding the Vita, but it’s easily switched off completely.[drop]The main mode has five planets, each consisting of five stages. Each stage sees a hail of asteroids landing on the surface, along with waves of different types of enemy. The ultimate goal of each stage is to clear enemies but destroying the rocks gives you more space and uncovers ship upgrades and bonus points to help you along.
The final stage of each planet consists of a large-scale boss battle and completing each one unlocks a new mini game from the main menu.
The mini games seem to exist primarily to show off the new control systems the Vita allows. Each one makes use of some fancy new control scheme, whether it’s using the front and rear touch to crush rocks between your fingers or the gyroscopic controls to aim and shoot at waves of enemies from orbit. They’re no replacement for the main play style but they do present some nice diversions and the leader boards will encourage friends-list feuds.
- It looks gorgeous, as you would expect.
- Solid, fast framerate and a great sense of action.
- Controls are snappy and natural.
- Mini games to show off your Vita’s fancy new tech.
- It feels a little bit light on content, with DLC making up the deficit.
- Visually manic so it can occasionally be difficult to track your ship.
Super Stardust Delta is a cheap, download-only showcase for several of the PS Vita’s selling points. It looks fantastic on that big bright screen and the new control systems are utilised without feeling too tacked on and gimmicky — at least in the main mode.
The mini games may only be there to show off the hardware but they still provide some potential for high score battles and are a welcome addition to the reasonably short main mode. For the price of admission, though, you’d be crazy to miss this.