Super Stardust is becoming a bit of a new PlayStation hardware tradition. Ever since the venerable Super Stardust HD, the Housemarque developed arcade shooter has appeared on every Sony system released – including the PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, and now PlayStation VR. But is the concept strong enough to withstand such a dizzying number of re-releases?
Oh, it definitely is: Super Stardust, we'd argue, is one of the greatest arcade games of the past decade, and that hasn't changed. But this virtual reality version of the title is what we like to call in the industry as launch fodder; it's a perfectly acceptable iteration of the spherical shmup, but it brings so little of value to the figurative table that it feels like it exists solely to make up the numbers.
The Trophy list alone should ring alarm bells, as if you already own PS4 re-release Super Stardust Ultra, you'll already have a handful of the gongs. That's because this is the exact same game that released in 2015, albeit repurposed so that you can play it in virtual reality. The camera perspective is zoomed a little so that you have to look around the planet that you're orbiting, but expect the same boulder blasting gameplay that you're already familiar with – albeit rendered in stereoscopic 3D.
The new Invasion Mode is the headline here, then – a new option designed exclusively for virtual reality. Here you're brought down to a muddy-looking planet's surface where you're tasked with blasting enemies from the cockpit of your Lemmings decorated spacecraft. You aim using your head, which – as is the case in RIGS: Mechanized Combat League – is disorientating, but it all works fine enough for the few minutes that you'll bother playing it.
The problem is that it's just not Super Stardust; the scoring system and phase-based structure is still intact, but it lacks that Housemarque magic, and feels turgid as a result. And ultimately, what you're left with here is a virtual reality version of a game that you've already played to death and a tailor-made mode that loses its lustre within minutes. There's nothing inherently bad about any of it, but it feels like a low-effort attempt that exists solely because it can.
Super Stardust will always be an outstanding arcade game, but this particular version is a tired attempt at repurposing an ageing experience for yet another PlayStation platform. The classic gameplay options function fine in virtual reality but offer nothing new, while the added PlayStation VR-exclusive Invasion Mode fails to grasp what's great about the original experience. It's one of those launch games that's just kinda… there.
it may be a rehash of the previous installments, but it's my #1 PSVR Launch game. Better than ANYTHING I've played until now. (Haven't played RIGS or EVE: Valkyrie yes though..)
A friend just gave me a helpful tip if you don't already own Super Stardust for the PS4: you can purchase it at 50% off when you buy another indie game selected by Sony with it in Europe. Afterwards you can "upgrade" the base game for about £8 so you'll just spend somewhere in the region of £4 more in total when you for instance buy Bound to go along with it.
So instead of buying the full VR game, I'd buy the base game with Bound, Enter the Gungeon, Resogun or Dead Nation with it and just upgrade. The game is definitely worth it although the VR bit is nothing to e-mail home about. I hope that games like these will get VR enhanced modes more often, just skipping the obligatory first person add-ons; a game like Alienation would work so well in VR looking onto the battlefield in "God- mode" with your headset on, seeing the beautiful tiny explosions while you control your own army of "ants" to save the world they live in.
Nice review! Quick question I wonder you can help with. Do I need VR to achieve 100% in SSU now or can I buy the add on and play in a non-VR mode? Store says 'compatible' not 'required'.
@vrtualinsanity The VR Trophies don't count towards the Platinum.
@get2sammyb I'm more being super anally retentive and annoyed my 100% has turned into 83% haha. #completionistproblems
@vrtualinsanity Oh! You can only play that mode with VR, I'm afraid.
It's a nice game but It's only simple arcade. If it was in 2d it wouldn't be much interesting to me. But as a showcase it's good. As an upgrade it's nobrainer.
THAT ISN'T THE SUPER STARDUST I KNOW AND LOVE!
Such a let down that there is only one level, I actually enjoy the mechanics of the VR mode.
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