Stardash is another Orange Pixel game that is simple yet can be loads of fun. It is a GameBoy-like game in just about every way, from the look, the sound, and the feel. This is a tough little game that provides loads and loads of gameplay and can be a solid experience whether at home or on the go.
But is this GameBoy game wannabe a title of celestial strength? Or is this just some stardust unrecognizable next to regular beach sand? Well, let’s find out!
Stardash immediately has a look and feel about it that is very GameBoy-like. The purposeful lack of color and theme choice lend heavily to this, and even the way the game controls and sounds supports this reality for the little indie game.
“So what if it looks and feels like a GameBoy game. How does it play?”
Yeah, yeah. I hear you. I was just getting the nostalgia buttons out of the way first before actually reviewing the game.
Stardash is an action platformer similar to the Super Mario series, particularly Super Mario Land on the GameBoy, but it is significantly more difficult and rough around the edges a bit. The main character’s jump takes a lot of getting used to, and even pretty early in the game, expectations are pretty high which causes some stress while progressing through the game’s 50+ levels (I say “plus” because you can technically “flip” all 50 levels which fluffs the total to 100, but it is still the same 50 levels. Just backwards.).
The game is split up into five areas with 9 regular levels each, a T level that is like the boss level of the area, and the ability to flip all 10 of those levels, including the incredibly challenging T levels.
In order to unlock the T levels in each area, you have to first find the hidden key within each of the 9 stages and reach the goal without dying, and the keys are weirdly hidden invisibly behind certain platforms. That may not sound so difficult, but Stardash is not shy about throwing a few curveballs at you along the way. Firstly, each stage is on a very short timer, so you do literally need to dash to the goal. Second, there are loads of enemies and hazards that kill you in one hit, and there are particular enemies that just show up out of nowhere or launch unpredictable projectiles at you, killing your progress and making you start all over. And finally, the hard-to-get-used-to jump can be a game killer.
That last point is a rough one, because Stardash is a fast platformer where jumping is incredibly important. However, jumping is very stiff and some of the platforming in latter levels requires the most precise jumping, landing, and timing I have ever experienced in a video game. The fact that you cannot sit for a few seconds to catch the timing hurts, and rushing through the level to beat the short timer results in a lot of mistakes (And a lack of learning from them).
The game looks and sounds amazing, as it does emulate a GameBoy game very well. All of the sprites and bumpin’ chiptunes are a joy to experience and a nice reminder of games long past. I did, however, experience a glitch a couple times where the soundtrack just muted itself at the start of a level and wouldn’t come back unless I closed the application and started over. It was a bit annoying, but what can you do?
Overall, Stardash is a slightly above-average platformer that is incredibly difficult (In a lot of bad ways, too) but looks great in the process. For those looking for a challenge at a very affordable price, this is definitely a game that will fill that void. You will have hours and hours of levels to play through and secret keys to find on your way to completing the game.
It may not be for everyone, and I absolutely cannot recommend for casual players, but if you do love a good, sadistic platformer, Stardash is the game for you.
Very cute sprites and graphics
Loads and loads of gameplay
Not a good jump feel
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.