I love shoot-em-up games, but I’ll be honest and admit I’m not the best at them. I’ve been playing quite a few of them since my 80’s Atari days with Namco’s Galaga, and have enjoyed some of Japan’s finest bullet-hell shooters from companies such as Cave and from the recently defunct Psikyo. Now two Finland-based companies, Dreamloop Games and Vasara Entertainment, throw their hat into the shooter ring with Stardust Galaxy Warriors, a fun and thrilling game that’s made for anyone to pick up and shoot their way to victory.
There’s not much in the way of a story here, but let’s face it, we don’t play shooters for a story, and the game’s crazy tongue-in-cheek humor pokes fun at this many times as you play. For the most part, you’re trying to stop some evil person from taking over the galaxy, and it’s up to you (along with three other friends in four player local co-op) to pick a character and their mech from a team of four and shoot everything on the screen. Like any good shooter, there are multiple ways to do this, from using your basic and secondary weapons from an arsenal you can choose from before you start, to using your mech’s melee and special attacks. There’s also a bit of a RPG element in place, as you can level up certain abilities such as damage output, shields and armor, etc. with money you earn as you play. The power-ups let you do things such as increase critical hit damage, triple your weapon output, give you an instant special attack to use, and more.
There’s three game modes to choose from, Campaign which is the main story mode with thirty stages to blast your way through, Gauntlet Mode has you trying to rack up as many points as possible through an endless high score race, and Challenge Mode has you playing through stages with special rules set to them to make things challenging. To my relief I found out that unlike most shooters, this one is a little more forgiving as your mech has a shield that recharges when you’re taking damage, and also a health meter that depletes once your shield is down. But now it’s time to talk about my favorite feature of this game, it’s completely customizable! I have long stated that videogames should let you play the way you want, and now I can do so here.
If you’re not that great at shooters like yours truly, Stardust Galaxy Warriors will let you change things such as how much health you and the enemies have, how fast you and the enemies shoot, you can make power-ups can stack, and more. I can’t tell you how happy this made me, as I could custom tailor the game to be as easy or hard as I wanted. I wish that other game developers would learn from this, as it would put an end to people having to look or wait for PC game trainers to give them options such as these. The graphics aren’t the best, but they more than get the job done while the animations and framerate are smooth as silk. The humor and the music are two of the best things here, as the anime-like characters break the fourth wall often during the text-filled dialogue that appears. I also loved how silly, random things would also appear, such as a mini enemy boss that’s a giant rock called “Big-Ass Asteroid” that talks and even has family that attacks you later on in the game. The amazing electronic music really stands out here and gets you into the game with thumping beats or retro-like tunes reminiscent of the late 80’s and early 90’s.
Fun, tongue-in-cheek humor, a buttery-smooth framerate, awesome music, and the ability to custom tailor things to your liking makes Stardust Galaxy Warriors one of the best games I’ve played in a long while. Don’t let it’s simplistic graphics fool you into thinking this is some disposable Steam title, as it’s one of the best games the service has to offer. Do yourself a favor and check this one out, even if you’re not a fan of shooters, this one just might convert you.