Back in the late-1990s, S Club 7 told us to don’t stop moving to the funky funky beat. Now, in 2016, Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax is telling us the same thing. For if we do. We die. Simple as.
You wouldn’t normally catch me dead playing something like Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax. My days of fast paced shooting action, and worrying about which stat I should upgrade in order to give me the best chance of survival, was left behind around about the same time as the S Club split.
But the chance to go hands on with some mini mechs is obviously too much of a draw and has stopped me worrying too much about the rather dodgy name which the game goes by.
A seriously quick side scrolling shooter with crisp, clear modern day visuals and old school audio cues, Stardust Galaxy Warriors, brings together the most classic of SHMUP mechanics with all the stuff that a role playing gamer would die for. There are plenty of chances to worry about upgrades, stat points and the like throughout, and if you’re into that kind of thing, then all is good. Essentially though, it’s all about the former as the shooting, dodging, dying and retrying is what really makes Stellar Climax the game that it is. At its heart is a superb little shooter.
You see, Stardust Galaxy Warriors will ensure that your TV screen is full to the brim at all times with waves upon waves of cleverly created space battlers, hundreds and thousands of bullets, missiles, super weapons and the odd big boss or five to worry about. There is also, rather strangely if you ask me, the chance to run through things meleeing your way to victory, but if truth be told, the shoot em up aspect is such good fun, and so super smooth, that you’ll rarely need or want to get up close and personal. Unless you’re a bit of a maniac.
Three different game modes hold the key to the action, but all play very similar. The main Campaign is obviously the big draw and this will be where you spend much of your time, fighting your way through mini waves of enemies, before finally dispatching end of stage bosses, upgrading your mechanised character and heading straight back in again. A Gauntlet mode is well positioned for quick five minute or five hour action hits, whilst the Challenges deliver something for you to test your skills in. Whichever you choose though, all will contain manic battles that require a huge amount of dexterity and will to win.
But to win, you’ll really need to get to grips with the various characters, weapons, super weapons and more. With five characters bringing different abilities and powers, whether you choose to specialize in ranged artillery with Blue Falcon, or go all out with melee berserking in control of Red Tiger, then it matters little. Silver Wolf is the run and gunner, whilst the big Black Bear and Amber Fox provide the much needed defensive support. But with so much going down on screen at once, the ultimate battle revolves around shooting and dodging, with little care to which character you are playing as.
Your weaponry is fired smoothly and easily with the constant hammering of both the left and right triggers. The smart money however goes to those who prefer to utilise the weapon toggles with both bumpers though, saving your fingers the hassle and ensuring that auto fire saves your ass time and time again. Once you’ve hit the switch for that auto firing, you’ll wonder how on earth you even tried to get by without it.
Super powers will also be of huge significance and once powered up, are the difference between life and death, success or failure. Fail to hit that B button in time, and you may just see your chances go up in a cloud of smoke. It is however these which differ most from character to character, ranging from the likes of slowing down time to unleashing ultimate hails of bullets. It’s all good to try each and every one out, if only in order to find your preference, but chances are once you’ve messed around with Blue Falcon and seen his powers in action, you’ll rarely want to go without.
The ‘fun’ story that is presented before each of the set stages is neither here nor there, so if you were pinning your hopes on being told a stunning intergalactic space tale of bribery, corruption, love and denial, then you’re going to be left disappointed. But the gameplay itself more than makes up for that. Whilst initial thoughts will also point to a measly ten stage campaign not delivering the goods, for the small asking price, and a good few hours of game time found within, it works well – and the fact each level is split up into three smaller stages sees Stellar Climax belie its initial doings. And besides, should you find yourself completing the campaign too easily, then the option to run through things again with a different mech or fighting style, or even drop in on the New Game Plus or Endless Gauntlet modes are good additions.
So, Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax is good fun when you’re alone and just want to bash through an hour or so of fine shooting, but when you decide to team up with local sofa friends, it delivers an altogether better experience. Manic is the only word I can really use for the time spent with multiple players battling the galactic baddies and whether you decide to work as a team, bringing various weapons to the fight in order to counteract all situations, or just go it alone with the fast shooters you can find, it really is a joy to play. Reviving each other at times of need is a must though, but there will be times when you need to weigh up the pros and cons of helping a lone wolf respawn. Believe me, the pros near on always come out on top because the more firepower you have, the better your chances. And the more fun will be had.
With various timed powerups in place to allow for greater super abilities and a decent number of weapon variations, upgrade options and full on combos available, you probably won’t get too bored with Stellar Climax in a hurry. Admittedly, you’ll probably find a mech/weapons combination which works best for you, and decide to stick with it, but it’s well worth checking out everything on offer and the multitude of combinations is rather mind blowing for a title that has gone so much under the radar.
Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stella Climax has been a delightful surprise that brings a huge deal of customisation and replayability. From initially thinking I’d hate every single second of it, I’ve been pleasantly pleased and for £7.99, it’s more than worth a little shot.
…and sometimes a surprise is what you need in life.
Just be sure of one thing…Don’t stop movin’!