The Legendary Starfy
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Nintendo DS
  • Developer:
    • TOSE
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    • JP 07/10/2008
    • US 06/07/2009
    • UK 10/08/2009
Score: 80%

This review was published on 08/13/2009.

Make wave for Starfy's fifth adventure, the second released on the Nintendo DS, and the first one to have ever been brought to the shores of the U.S.A. Nintendo decided to pull a Square on us by omitting the numerical value and the subtitle, opting to go for a generic title such as "The Legendary Starfy," which will confuse gamers to no end. Who knows how many people out there still have a hard time telling between Final Fantasy 3 and Final Fantasy 6. I'll try and write this review as if you haven't read through my other reviews for the previous four games, considering those were only released in Japan and the likelihood of any non-Japanese person having played them is low. I will be making some references to the past games, however.

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Starfy goes back to his roots, in more ways than one. Firstly, Nintendo was dead-serious with the Square thing, going so far as to make edits to the dialogue to make it friendlier to newcomers. Oddly enough, they did leave behind a few references to older games, which will most assuredly confuse said newcomers. The other major way this iteration sends Starfy back to his roots is the unbridled focus on underwater excursions; Starfy is a 2D platformer where there are more underwater areas than there are land ones. Don't worry, control underwater is seamless, unlike what you may be used to in the older Mario games.

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Visuals are as impressive as they were in Starfy 4, which is to say, quite impressive. 3D backgrounds with 2D foreground sprites are still the order of the day, virtually unchanged from last time. They've upped the ante a little by including a few 3D bosses, but for the most part, the graphics aren't any superior to Starfy's last adventure on the DS. Cut-scenes with a comic book motif were also thrown into the mix to add some flair to the story segments. They're pretty cool, yet rather lame at the same time, due to the fact that this is Starfy and nothing of interest can be conveyed in its story. I was impressed with the level designs in Starfy 4, and am saddened by the fact that this game doesn't hold a candle to it. The level themes are also somewhat bland, going the route of more traditional platformers with a generic forest world, a generic ice world, a generic cave world, etc.

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The bottom screen has a multitude of functions that, sadly, does not include an in-game map. You can switch between these different functions by touching the icons at the bottom screen. Every single one of these functions is completely useless, except for the treasure chest detector, which also has the ability to detect any nearby side-quest doors and shows you the amount of pearls (money) you currently have. And on the subject of money, you can use your pearls to buy trivial junk at Moe's shop. Thing is, Moe doesn't let you pick what you want to buy, and shows you an item at random. Sure, you can keep refusing to buy items until the one you want (or can afford) shows up, but that's madness. In the end, Moe never sells anything of use like heart gems, so I found the whole exchange to be a disappointment.

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After 4 games, you finally get access to a level select right at the beginning, provided you've beat the levels. I never liked the idea of not being able to revisit levels until after beating the game. I mean, it just went against common sense. Now it's more convenient to go back and collect stuff like heart gems. Speaking of heart gems, collecting three of them will permanently increase your life gauge, and you learn plenty of useful moves as you go along your quest, in typical Starfy fashion. I get a Metroid or Zelda vibe from this, even though Starfy is more focused on straightforward action than puzzle solving and exploration. Also, considering Starfy has learned most of these moves countless times before, you'd think he'd have a handle on them by now and stop forgetting them all. Even Moe, Starfy's clam-shelled pal, jokes about this on several occasions. Perhaps he has Alzheimer's?

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Side-quests! They're hidden in special doors within some levels, and completing them unlocks a secret level. These side-quests are rarely ever annoying to do, and are more like small mini-games than actual quests. The extra levels are worthwhile not just for being additional levels, but they contain plenty of plunder to loot, such as heart gems and upgrades to abilities. Treasure chests are hidden throughout normal levels, too, though they tend to contain useless junk like costumes for the Starfy dress-up mini-game and diaries left behind by characters that gives you more detail about the plot. Since this is a Starfy game, plot details aren't exactly high on anyone's list of things to look out for. These things add to the game life if you have OCD, I suppose.

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Starfy's sister, Starly, has a bit of a different role this time around, one with more similarities to Luigi's role from the older Mario games. You can join up with another player in a co-op mode to defeat a boss or do a level together, with them controlling the pink star. You can only do this in a couple of levels, so it's not as exciting as it sounds. Starly is more than just a palette swap of Starfy, possessing her own unique move set that allows her to reach a few areas that Starfy cannot. These areas don't contain anything all too important, but they do have extra coinage and sometimes serve as short-cuts. Also, Starly starts out with all her moves learned, making her feel a little overpowered early on in the game.

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What I used to term "vehicles" are back, this time as transformations. Or perhaps they were always known as transformations; it's not like I could read enough Japanese to determine their proper terminology. Anyway, the amnesiac bunny from outer space teams up with Starfy to transform into these ultra powerful creatures that can basically mow down anything in their path. These forms can be upgraded by finding special upgrade pearls, which are optionally discovered in secret levels. You can only utilize these transformations in a few spots per world, but these spots come up often enough that you won't be left wanting for more. At least, I didn't.

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I'll repeat it down here one more time in case anyone is still confused: this game, The Legendary Starfy, is actually the fifth game in the Starfy series. With that in mind, I have to say that this is the best one for newcomers. It's in English, and it does a good job of accurately encapsulating what the Starfy games are all about, disposing of the less palatable bits. That said, I can't help but feel that Starfy 4 was overall much better in the level design department. If you can find a way to play that one, then by all means, do so. If not, then The Legendary Starfy will be your best bet.

Word Count: 1,205

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