IntroductionStardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax, developed by Dreamloop Games, is a 1-4 player couch co-op arcade shooter with flairs of SHMUP, Brawler, and light RPG gameplay mechanics meshed all into one fast-paced adventure. A game that puts the intensity control in the players hand's; it has adjustable settings in regard to enemy spawn, enemy difficulty, friendly fire, rate of fire for your weapons, etc.
You can buy the game on Steam, PlayStation Store, or Xbox Marketplace for $9.99.
GameplayA side-scrolling shooter; pretty self-explanatory. It's one of the oldest styles of gameplay, yet lives strong today through games like this. You move in any direction but can only shoot straight, or get up close and person and dish out melee attacks with swords. Take your mech of choice (5 potential characters to choose from), each with their own variations to weapons and special abilities that can be customized to one's play style. They all perform the same, though; you won't find one that moves faster than the others or who has an exaggerated amount of health similar to a "tank."
Fight through stages of seemingly endless enemies, weaving in-between incoming projectiles, and then face off against bosses. Participate in Campaign (story involved and roughly a dozen missions built with stages of progressively harder enemies until you fight bosses), Gauntlet (the only way this ends is if you die; reach for the high score and the highest stage you can), or Challenges where you'll find one of the 3 being called "Boss Challenge;" try to beat ever more difficult bosses. When in Campaign, you'll be able to have 20 different saved game progresses, from an auto-save feature, that allows you to back out after any stage or mission and pick it back up at a later time.
The game runs incredibly smooth and feels just as responsive; when I wanted to make that daring dash in-between bullets and rockets shot by the enemy, I was able to do so easily. Most impressively, the melee fighting was a respectable choice of action in regards to combat strategy. My sword stretched long and swung with the quickness of Dante from Devil May Cry. You are given a primary weapon and a secondary weapon for ranged attacks (for example, your primary may be a machine gun while the secondary is similar to a light rocket launcher). As you destroy enemy units, you'll potentially find pickups, allowing you to slow down time, fire extra rockets 360 degrees, unleash powerful electronic beams, etc.
The RPG elements come into the picture upon completion of stages where you'll be able to upgrade one of three things (there are way more than three things to upgrade but you'll only have the option to upgrade one of 3 choices each time). Some of these include improving shield regeneration capabilities, increasing attack damage, increase distortion technique accumulation, increase power up attraction radius and effect duration, to name a few). After finishes a mission and the stages it involves, you'll be taken to a "Junk Merchants Fair Trade Market" where you can spend credits earned frim your performance to buy upgrades for Attack, Shields, Power-ups, Defense, Criticals, as well as weapon upgrades and special abilities (see the picture below).
Adjustable settings and difficultiesPlayers are able to customize sliders in regards to aspects of the game, many based on percentages, such as: enemy durability, power-up drop chance, enemy fire rate, enemy bullet speed, player fire rate, player fire rate, resource multipliers, player shield capacity, player armor capacity, player hitbox size, enemy spawn rate, friendly fire (either none, players hit players, enemies hit enemies, or everyone hits everyone), Revive mode (no revives, revive at stage end, or players can revive players), the option for power-ups to replace the one already held or to stack, Gauntlet mode shop after each boss appears or not, and for random enemy waves to appear in Gauntlet mode or for it to progressively build like in the Campaign.
This handful of settings to play with allows you to make the gameplay as you wish it to be. The game provides an initial 9 different pre-determined settings options outside of the customizable settings, each designed to offer unique advantages and disadvantages for you in combat. It's an appreciated feature added into the game; one that is sure to allow a lot more replay value and enjoyment.
Sound and GraphicsIt's aesthetically pleasing to see all the bright colors of destruction shining brightly before your eyes. The screen can get completely flooded with lightings, but you never lose sight of your character or the enemies regardless. Even when playing with friends, the game looks gorgeous and simple to keep up with. The layout and design of the main menu create the initial impression that you are standing up at a somewhat retro arcade machine, but then when jumping into the action, you feel like you are playing a next-gen game.
The sound is just as customizable as other settings in the game. The sound effects of the weapons and pure enemy destruction as they explode are amazing, but what if it can sometimes feel pushed out from the games music? A couple seconds in the options menu and it can be turned down or completely off. And this concept works the other way around with sound effects and ambient volume. It's small details that you'll probably never find a game to be without, but it stood out a lot more in this game as I found the initial volume of the music over-expressive. Not that the music was bad, though, it does a great job providing a classic retro-like sound even though slightly repetitive, but the sound effects are a lot better to hear in comparison. No voice acting is implemented in the game other than the cliche "Stage Clear." Scripted voices matching the Campaigns text dialogue would have gone a lot further in making it something worth paying more attention to.
ConclusionStardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax is packed with action, all customizable at the players demand which is a nice feature. While the game is a fun sandbox of an arcade feeling, it pushes away some opportunities to carry longevity and replay value. Bumping up the difficulty and increasing enemy spawn is challenging, but many might find it to be a fun one time experience if not enjoying with friends in co-op, and that's on the predicate that you are able to bring your friends into one room to game together in the first place, as there is no online option.
The campaign fell short of being a "campaign," as the text dialogue failed to provide any truly intriguing story, but is another viable option for causing galactic mayhem. Overall, it's a great game that provides intense action and enjoyment, and so long as you are a major fan of the genre or can get your friends together in one room to play, it will be found as a great gaming experience with a lot of replay value.
|+ Fun party couch co-op||- No online co-op is a major disappointment|
|+ Sharp and colorful graphics||- Lacks a more intriguing story|
|+ Customizable gameplay settings|
|+ Responsive controls|