Side-scrolling twin stick shooters have become something of a dietary staple of the console digital space this generation; they’re very much part of the downloadable arena’s DNA. And yet, amidst all the dozens of variant shooters that have emerged over the last how many years, Housemarque’s Super Stardust HD on the Playstation Network is the only twin sticker to keep me coming back for more. Super Stardust makes the transition to Playstation Vita this February for launch, subtitled “Delta”, and if my short preview time with it is anything to go by, then Delta and Vita are an ultimate match made in twin stick heaven.
Transitions haven’t been kind to the Super Stardust franchise. The series is only two games old (excluding Delta) but the jump from PSN to PSP minus a second analogue stick really negated and invalidated the core quality of the original PSN experience. Delta, with its second Vita analogue in tow, is more akin to the original, all the while offering an original and augmented experience to compliment the Vita and its unique functionality.
Delta looks incredible on the Vita’s 5 inch OLED screen. The build I played looked flawless; there was no frame rate drop, no stutters and crucially, no compromise. The visual fidelity of the PSN version appears to have been emulated with any real tangible issues. The space is quite busy, what with falling asteroids, explosions, pickups, enemies and your ships bullets and elemental blasts, but the game never showed a moment of stress or strain. It’s a beauty.
As a purist of the PSN original, I found myself immediately at ease with the traditional control scheme with the twin sticks and the shoulder buttons. However, Delta makes use of the Vita’s SIXAXIS-esque gyro, touch screen and the track pad, and while most functionality is subtle and not particularly groundbreaking, the player isn’t bound to conform to it. Mind you, tilting the Vita as you play allows you to change the camera angle of the planet you are perusing and it really adds another element of intrigue and exploration to the picture. It’s probably the Vita only function you’ll get the most use of.
My preview demo also treated me to a couple of all consuming new hazards and weaponry, namely the black holes. These suckers will literally “suck” all and everything around them into them including your actual ship if you’re most particularly careful. Weapons also appear to have secondary fire functionality too, all of which can be activated by tapping the screen.
Super Stardust Delta looks like it could well be one of Vita’s most promising launch titles. The final retail code will include a host of new gameplay modes, weapons and enemies at launch as well as online play.
It’s available next February exclusively for Playstation Vita at launch.