Starush (Ubisoft) Review | Amiga Power - Everygamegoing

Amiga Power

By Ubisoft
Amiga 500

Published in Amiga Power #14


Fascinating Grammatical Observations, No 655: the phrase 'Worthy but dull'. Doesn't the fact that something's dull automatically exclude it from having any real value? After all, who'd want to fork out £26 for something that was dull, no matter how many redeeming qualities it had (say, for example, all the money was being donated straight to Greenpeace of something)? Eh?

The reason I ask is that the phrase 'worthy but dull' was the one that kept forcing itself persistently into my mind as I played this horizontally scrolling shoot-'em-up. It's pretty or a start, the plot's a bit more interesting than usual, there's a neat intro sequence and you can play any of the four worlds (each with three levels, the whole thing representing some evil other-dimensional sign-of-the-zodiac monsters) from the opening menu. The gameplay has some nice ideas too - instead of having a certain number of lives, each time you get hit by a bullet or enemy, you change to a lower form (from a spaceship to a guy with a jetpack to a guy simply running along the ground and jumping up, for example), each of which has different characteristics (e.g. the soldier on the ground can't reach the higher-up baddies and he's got fairly nobby armaments, but he's smaller and harder to hit) and calls for different gameplay strategies. Of course, you can also collect power-ups which reverse the process (as well as the usual short-lived extra weaponry), building your character up to more controllable and powerful incarnations, but usually these also make you bigger and an easier target for the aliens.

Another interesting idea is that each level comes in two sections - the first scrolls from right to left, ending in what's actually a mid-level guardian, and when that's defeated you scroll back in the opposite direction against new enemies until you get to the real end-of-level boss who appears at your starting position. This might seem pointless and cosmetic, but there's actually a completely different feel to the scrolling-the-wrong-way bit which adds more to the gameplay's variation than you might think.

Pretty damn worthy stuff so far, then, but sadly Starush falls down completely by failing to attach an interesting game to all these neat features. The play area is only about four times the height of your character and the alien attacks are unimaginative and repetitive, and in play the thing's actually deadly boring. For all the groovy bits, this is a lifeless game, and while you couldn't exactly say you were ripped off if you bought it, you'd be pretty unlikely ever to load it up for fun.

The Bottom Line

Yep, 'worthy but dull' seems to sum it up pretty perfectly. There's the start of something good in here, but there's far too much missing.

Stuart Campbell

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