Review by 94067

Reviewed: 06/15/09

Like Kirby, this game is easy enough for kids, but fun enough for the older crowd

Legendary Starfy can be seen as a parallel to Kirby. While the two are unrelated as far as storylines, they both follow the same premise: a relatively easy, brightly colored platformer fun for the young and old. While Kirby is a little more challenging than Starfy, Starfy is still a fun game worth a purchase. It clocks in at a little over 12 hours for 100% completion, and makes the perfect break in between RPGs.

While Kirby's gimmick is his ability to copy his foes, Starfy's is his amazing control underwater, typically the part of a platformer that goes down the drain. Starfy controls underwater how most platformers control on land, but there is one small gripe I have with the controls. When transitioning from water to land, the buttons have different uses. Underwater, B is the "go fast" button, and Y executes Starfy's signature attack, his spin. On land, B is the jump button (Starfy can move in all directions in water) and Y is both the spin and "go fast" button. Holding down Y on land makes you run, while just pressing it makes you spin. This isn't too much of a big deal since land and water are typically well seperated, but in the later levels, there are a lot of transitions from land to water, which make going from one layout a small hassle. You can change the layout to fit your preferences, but I don't think any resolve this issue.

Luckily, that's really the biggest issue with Starfy, and the rest of the game plays like a dream, if a completely easy one. Even the hidden treasure chests and secret doors required to get 100% aren't too difficult to find, they usually involve going out of the way of the open, but linear levels. The levels are laid out more similar to Kirby than Mario, with one path to the exit, but numerous sections in each level. Scattered throughout the levels are save points and the aforementioned bonus areas, which yield everything from extra minigames to disappointing diary entries by the game's relatively large cast. While Legendary Starfy actually surprised me with its story being a little more than simply "Save the Noun", it's nothing that requires supplemental reading, and the entries, which automatically display when you get them, are a minor annoyance. Also in the chests are life-ups, like heart containers in Zelda. Starfy starts out being able to take 5 hits and by the end of the game, provided you look for them, can take 10. Ten. For comparison, that's 10 Super Marios, given 3 hits each. Shamefully enough, though, I actually died a few times, but even getting a game over only returns you to your last savepoint, and since the game automatically saves after each level, this is never a problem.

While it goes without saying that, since this is meant to be a kid's game, it's brightly colored, Starfy surprised me with its aesthetics. The foreground of the levels are traditional sprite-based, nothing too exciting or innovative, but the backgrounds are rendered in 3D and provide a nice setting to imagine yourself in. If you played or are familiar with Kirby 64: Crystal Shards, it's the same concept. Unfortunately, aside from the backgrounds, the levels in any given world look the same, and the backgrounds tend to give more of an atmosphere than most 2D platformers can give. Enemies are colorful and feature large eyes, but bosses are also rendered in rather stunning 3D, making me actually look forward to fighting them, if only for their relative challenge. Once again, the simplicity of Starfy shines through with its bosses. While visually impressive, they are simple, and except for about two, none change their attacks after a certain amount of their health is gone. To make things worse, you actually fight one group of bosses twice, which is rather unfortunate. For no apparent reason, there's a rock/paper/scissors game thrown in as a boss battle (I concede that it does make sense in context, if incredibly anticlimactic), but the last boss is relatively complex in comparison to its earlier brethern. The music also surprised me; it's on level with Kirby music, just like most of the aesthetics. Light and happy, and the boss and minigame music is surpringly well-done. While nothing really got stuck in my head, it's not necessarily the type of game where you'd want to listen to something else.

Starfy offers a little more than an easy, if brightly colored experience. There are a handful of minigames that use the touchscreen (the only real time in the game that really requires it), and they're actually pretty fun time wasters, even if they serve absolutely no purpose in-game. You can also dress Starfy up in various costumes, although rather disappointingly, they have no effect on how he looks in the levels, just the menu screen. You can view the previously mentioned irksome diary entries, and after beating the game, laboriously buy little trinkets of the enemies and listen to the songs. There's a story re-viewer, and some bits of dialogue are actually pretty amusing. The story, like I've mentioned before, is fairly simplistic, but actually does develop throughout the game. Most interestingly, it's told through comic book styled cutscenes, complete with BAMFs and DOOOOOOOOOOOMs. The cutscenes are fairly long for a kid's game, and annoyingly, seem to repeat themselves by the end of the game. You can skip them, however, a very welcome feature indeed. I do concede that this game pays pretty high attention to detail, except for the costume change. While I typically don't spend too long with platformers, if you're the kind of person that goes beserk for completion, this is a pretty good game to do it with.

There's a handful of other features that Starfy has: by linking up with another DS (local wireless only, unfortunately) a second player can join in as Starly, Starfy's pink sister. There's a handful of levels that offer you this option, and it's never required, though it does net you a few more coins. After beating the game, you're actually given a bonus world in which you can play as Starly, a surprisingly fair addition to those of us that don't have others to play with. Starfy can transform at fixed points into one of four animals, the first of which is a monster, and I wouldn't want to spoil the others for you. Transforming grants Starfy additional abilities that can be upgraded, allowing him access to new secret areas. While the first transformation kicks the difficulty down from easy to embarrasing, the others are not nearly as awesome. None of them can be used to fight bosses with, so the only real damage done is to the already easy normal levels. One of my favorite features is the treasure and secret door detector which is displayed on the bottom screen (you can also choose from the dumb-advice giving Mermaid and the useless-but-interesting number giving lobster, who tells you how many enemies you've defeated, etc)

Starfy is like Kirby: simple, but entertaining. I'd put it about on the level of Kirby Super Star Ultra, if only because Starfy has a wee-bit more replay value. While it might be a little expensive now for the length it is (took me 12 hours without assistance to get 100%), it is one of a few games in the DS's relatively empty genre of platformers. It's great for your kids, if you have them, and for taking breaks between text-heavy games like Phoenix Wright or RPGs.

Quick Rundown:

+Simple gameplay that is never frustrating
+Pretty backgrounds and bosses
+Unexpectedly pleasant music
+More replay value in minigames and collectibles
+Treasure seeker
+Story is a smidgeon more complex than "Our Princess is in another castle"

Not positives:
-Too easy
-While the backgrounds are nice, the graphic design of the levels rarely lives up to them
-Minigames are ultimately a waste of time (though fun)
-Cutscenes are sometimes repetitive
-Minor control issues transitioning from water to land
-Transformation isn't ever used as much as it could be
-Costume changes don't change from menu to screen

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: The Legendary Starfy (US, 06/07/09)

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