A Fault In The Stars: Super Stardust Ultra Brings Little New

If you were expecting Super Stardust Ultra to be a brand new version of Stardust built from the ground-up for PS4, then you will be sorely disappointed. Super Stardust HD was a game which cemented itself in PlayStation history as one of the first and most popular PSN titles, as well as being first in a few other categories with trophies and 3D support.

Now, while it’s not the first remake of this kind this generation, it’s perhaps the most lazily executed, with Ultra bringing few extra pieces of content and barely upgrading the original, eight year old game. If you’ve played Super Stardust HD on PS3, then you’ll feel an inescapable sense of déjà vu as you play Super Stardust Ultra on PS4; it’s essentially the same title.

I know Super Stardust HD like the back of my hand – the enemy types, boss patterns, and strategies for each planet. Back in the day, I spent more time than I’d like to admit attempting to get that 10x multiplier trophy (and I never did get it), so to come to this game and find that the new content is thin on the ground is extremely disappointing.

Now, if you’ve never played Super Stardust HD, then this is the game in a complete package, with a few additional features. While the graphics are noticeably dated, with some rather low-polygon models, it’s still a fantastic game in its own right, and there’s plenty of longevity to be had. If you own a Vita though then you’ll probably find a better game in Super Stardust Delta.

However, for the target market, the people who love the series and want a new Stardust title, it’s just a disappointing, false entry into the series which feels lazily executed. For example, let’s take a look at the new content; in terms of new game modes, there’s Blockade, which sees a constant barrage of rocks spawning behind you, making the game a Snake-like affair. And… that’s it.

The first seven modes remain the same as they were in the PS3 title, and while “newly designed” planets had been teased, you’ll find that this means the planetary backdrops and names have been altered – this is one place where the game actually looks better – rather than the way the levels play out actually being redesigned. Everything else, including enemy patterns and phases, remains unchanged from Super Stardust HD.

There are some new social features, including challenges which can be sent to your friends via PSN and an interactive streaming option. The latter is interesting, essentially allowing those in the stream to either help or hinder your progress by sending in varying degrees of enemy attacks or dropping in power-ups and other bonuses. This works well if you’ve got plenty of people willing to watch and vote, but leaves much to be desired otherwise.

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It’s just such a strange change of tact for Sony, a company who has revelled in cross-buy promotions and game upgrades, particularly with digital titles. Look at Flower, Escape Plan, and Sound Shapes when those made the move over to PS4: if you owned those on PS3, then you’d automatically get the upgraded PS4 versions at no extra cost.

Then again, another Housemarque title – Dead Nation – made the jump to the new generation with its Apocalypse Edition and didn’t feature cross-buy with the PS3 title, but it did feel like much more of an improvement in terms of visuals, gameplay, and game modes than Super Stardust Ultra does.

There’s just not a lot to go on here – a platinum trophy, one new mode, interactive streaming, and that’s about it – and if you’ve played Super Stardust HD and bought this without warning, then you’ll likely feel cheated, and that’s something which the new planetary backdrops really aren’t going to help with.

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23 Comments

  1. Yeah, this seems super shady. As Tuff mentioned last night on Twitter, they specifically described this as a “new” entry. I think people are quite right to feel ripped off.

    PS: “…even if it does run in 1080p at 60fps in 3D now.” It still drops to 720p60 in 3D like on PS3; the PS4 doesn’t support 1080p60.

    • Well, 1080p per eye is *gets calculator out* 1920×2160 at 60fps the memory bandwidth must be huge, they probably thought it wasn’t worth the effort to code for it considering 3d’s popularity. Still a shame though.

      I did notice that visually, it looks just as detailed as the ps3 version, if a little less jaggies, but that is not certain as I’ve not done a comparison on the same tv screen.

      I didn’t realise the levels were the same, but then I wasn’t good enough at the original to know the enemy patterns.

      • I fixed that 3D comment juuust before you commented ;)

    • I was very surprised to see frame rate slow down when there was a lot of stuff onscreen when playing in 3D. Thought the PS4 would handle it easy, it could be down to a bad/lazy port!

  2. They reduced the amount of bombs required for the Bomber trophy from 15 to 13…that sums up gaming for me in the current generation…make it easy.

    I did over 300 attempts on the PS3 to get that trophy and my 100% in SSHD on the PS3 is one of my shining moments…Shock & Awe was another right sonofagun…

  3. I expected the new SS to be basically a reskin-does not make it necessarily an outright bad thing. Reskinned and incrementally improved games make up a large portion of the gaming market. I would be willing to give this a go simply for continuation as I would for a possible HD re-release of Uncharted (pleaseeeee be a thing).

    On an interesting note, I liked how this article in itself acts as a review. Eurogamer & Kotaku have dropped giving games review scores. I wonder how what effect it will have?

  4. For the price they’re asking, this is really only worth it for anyone that likes this type of game and hasn’t played it yet. And I have a feeling there might not be too many of those people around…

  5. Thanks for the heads up. Was going to grab it as loved the game, but think I may wait for a bigger discount.

  6. I agree I bought this last night and was thinking it’s more or less exactly the same. Still a great game though. Resogun at least got some new content to go to there.

    Also for fans of this genre I can’t recommend enough geometry wars 3 on the store I know it comes from an xbox background originally so might not have that much coverage here but it is a terrific game! Feels alot faster and frenetic then stardust and alot of content to work through.

    • +1 on geometry wars 3, even if the price is higher now than when it was up for preorder. Damn frustrating at times and I was glad when I finished it but it’s still great.

      • #beeje13 I picked it up in the xmas store sale for 7.99 it was an absolute steal at that price! Just got to the end of the adventure levels but it’s gonna be a tough platinum!

  7. I bought it yesterday but didn’t get a chance to start it up yet, kinda disappointed before i’ve even played it now,lol. Oh well, i never completed the original so i’ll console myself that i still have something new to see in this version.

  8. I must admit, I’m not overly impressed. Just seems pretty much the same as the PS3 version to me. I could’ve saved a tenner by selected another HDMI port and booting my PS3 up.

  9. Got PS3 version, but I sucked so bad. In fact probably more than any other game I’ve played! Maybe I just didn’t ‘get it’? Or put in enough time? But even the first levels I found insanely difficult. So yeah, was never gonna get PS4 version for that reason!

  10. Not just me then. Those so-called new levels and bosses felt extremely familiar to me. Thought I may have been losing my mind a little bit

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