Beatshapers brings you high flying, fast paced thrills in the downloadable game StarDrone. Will flinging your way through the stars leave you starstruck, or will uncontrollable controller flinging have you seeing stars?
StarDrone is a deceptively simple game that reels you right in. It is very easy to pick up on, as there are very few controls. You begin the levels by pointing in the direction you want your spaceship to be shot out with the left stick. This is an important step, as you aren’t able to steer your ship in any traditional way. Once shot into motion, it will continue on in that direction until it either hits an obstacle or is flung around.
Flinging your ship is the main method of control. By pressing either the down directional button or the “x” button, you can extend or retract a cable that will connect to the nearest hub. These triangular hubs are scattered throughout the levels, and they are the only things you can connect with. By timing your connections, you can turn corners, change direction, and even spin in circles to get your ship where it needs to be. It is actually a very cool premise, and it works well in StarDrone. The fact that your ship is not easily controlled makes for some challenging gameplay, but not at first. In fact, once you figure out what you are supposed to do, you’ll likely sail through the first couple of levels, feeling all badass and quite proud of yourself as you flip your way through space. And then…things get difficult.
Just when you think you’ve got the hang of things, StarDrone will throw you some curveballs, the first ones in the form of spikes. You’ll be flipping your way through a level when all of a sudden you’ll explode into a fiery ball of death. It is then that you’ll realize the wall is covered in spikes. Ouch. Get used to the spikes (or at least stat to figure out how to work around them) and then you’ll be introduced to enemies. The enemies themselves aren’t really impressive, just round some, vaguely menacing looking things that hang out wherever you want to go. They don’t have to be impressive to kill you, though, as I found out rather quickly. You can get hit a few times, but as soon as your energy bar depletes, it’s game over. Game over means start the level back at the beginning (no checkpoints here), which can be pretty harsh on some of the more difficult levels. I’ll just come right out and tell you that many of the levels will require you to memorize the twists and turns in order to make it past them. Not a big deal for me (reminds me of a lot of games from my younger years), but a dealbreaker for some.
Most of the levels are fairly short, completing when you have reached the goal associated with them. These are generally along the lines of collecting all stars or gems, destroying all enemies, or reaching an end spot. StarDrone is a bit deceptive in this respect as well. It is often the shortest levels that are the most difficult. While there were many difficult spots in the game, the first one to really give me a significant amount of trouble was the donut level. This truly diabolical level consisted of a circular track surrounded entirely on both sides by spikes. To get past it, you had to aim precisely in the middle, and make one perfect swing around the track to collect all the stars. That is even harder than it sounds, but it can be done, and you will shriek with joy when you finally get past it.
Therein lies the biggest appeal to StarDrone. The levels are hard enough and offer enough of a challenge that you will feel truly elated when you make it past them. But they aren’t so impossible that you just give up and walk away from the game. That is a difficult balance to reach, but I think Beatshapers has gotten it right in StarDrone (although you may disagree once you’ve made it past the first 20-25 levels). In addition to that “OMG, I *rock*” feeling, StarDrone has bronze, silver, and gold medals for speed, so the temptation to play the levels “just one more time” in search of the elusive gold makes for a lot of replayability. Add to that the fact that there are over 50 levels to play and you’ve got a lot of game time for a small price, as StarDrone sells for just $7.99.
StarDrone is a lot of game for a pretty low price, and the game’s challenging levels keep you coming back for more. The colorful levels and upbeat music add to the experience, but they can become a bit repetitive after a couple dozen levels. Achievement and medal junkies can find some fun ones here, but gamers who dislike memorizing levels will likely be turned off. I give StarDrone a 7 out of 10, and recommend it to gamers looking for something new that won’t break the bank.