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GreatReview #114 PUBLISHED Assessed by Rating Orb E β Varyx3527 views View other Reviews

A review by
Rating Orb Sameth
on 02/07/11
Sameth`s Avatar

In A Galaxy Not Far From Here

Game: RPG Shooter: Starwish
Developer: xdandod
Genre: RPG, Side Scrolling Shooter, Dating Sim
Play Time: 3+ hours
Link: on www.kongregate.com

Get used to it, you'll be seeing the hub sceen a lot in this long adventure.

Heart and Soul

It's no secret that I'm a fan of shooters. It should also not be a surprise that I love RPGs. With that in mind you would think that RPG Shooter: Starwish would be an easy sell for me; and it's true, I do really love Starwish, but not because of the shooting segments, the RPG-esque customisation, the dramatic story or the awesome soundtrack. I love it because of the heart that's gone into making it. This is a game that's far from perfect, and as you play it you'll realise that, however it's got that little spark that's missing from so many games. It screams "I'm special!" and makes you realise how much the developer cares about this game, its universe and its characters, and hopefully makes you care about them as well.

Combat works, but does nothing else.

Followed By A Mass Of Wrong Steps

As its name suggests, RPG Shooter: Starwish is a shooter with a liberal sprinkling of RPG mechanics, all wrapped up in a cool sci-fi setting. You'll spend half your time in the air shooting robots and half your time in a menu-based hub world where you can level up your character, customise his ship, chat to his crew and watch story segments unfold.

Unfortunately, Starwish manages to get things wrong from the very get-go: the start screen. The first thing a player sees when he opens up your game should not be a white screen with a pair of terribly animated characters sitting in the corner and the words "Game Start!" written in the most minute and boring blue font you've ever seen! Things get even worse once you press that fateful "Game Start!" button. You're then greeted with another white page with some more uninteresting blue text, now lacking in the vague glowing effect that the last screen possessed, making it look like a Microsoft Word Document. Sure, the menus are all functional and simple, but there's minimalistic and then there's stupid. Starwish's presentation sits firmly in the "Stupid" category.

But alas, I'm being far too negative, because by now the music will have kicked in, and let me tell you that's something to be happy about. If you care about the characters in this game at all, I can guarantee that will be because of the music. Having a heartfelt conversation with Tessa has a real impact on you when it's backed by a piano playing away sadly, while having a laugh with Swig over a pint seems all the more fun when you've got the jolly cafe jig in the background. The music is well produced and fits the game's character perfectly. Sure, it's repeated often and the battle music started to grate on me by the end of the game, but some of the best music tracks are saved for the endgame's most dramatic moments and that's something I'm thankful for as it made the events that unfold even more powerful.

As I said though, it's not all wine and roses, because if you want to hear the exceptional music you are going to have to play the game, and that bring a whole host of problems. When you first start the game you are thrown a ton of questions which are almost pointless as they only affect your starting statistics. In another game this might be fine, but seeing as you gain can gain four or five levels on the first mission alone, it makes the entire process feel redundant seeing as you can just set up your character however you want him anyway. But that's not the end of the problems with the player character either. Once you've answered the flood of timewaster questions prepare to be tossed straight into a story sequence with so little context you're likely to have problems pinpointing who the player character is; I did at least.

While we're on the subject of the story sequences, did they have to be presented in such an unexciting and confusing way? I appreciate the character art, but static screens with text box upon text box upon text box upon text box are just boring! It's hard to follow who's saying what when you've got half a dozen characters flitting in and out of a conversation two at a time, with the only way to tell who's talking is their plain text name and the other character's portrait fading out slightly. This isn't a truly terrible way to getting your story across, but the sequences drag on for far too long, leaving you just tapping space and glazing over what's being said in the hope that something interesting will soon happen.

And what of the (much hyped) story itself? Well the characters are cliched, there's more plot holes than an Indiana Jones movie, it drags on for far too long, it's about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face, and around every corner there's a deus ex machina. I still enjoyed it regardless of its many flaws however, if only because it at least tries to weave a good tale, something that's so often left on the cutting room floor in today's gaming world.

Graphically Starwish alternates between above average and downright awful depending on whether you're in the menu based hub world or the shooting segments. The hub world is filled with the developer's character art and backgrounds which are pretty nicely drawn and have plenty of character, giving the whole experience an anime vibe. The art is pretty grainy though and some characters can look slightly deformed preventing it from being a truly wonderful feature. The whole art direction of the shooting segments seems to have been dragged out of the drain of dreadful design. Real world images make up the background of stages filled with unimaginative enemy designs and foreground elements (that confuse gameplay by rarely making it obvious that you can't actually fly through them) in the same anime style as the hub world. All in all this makes a sharp contrast (not the good kind) and makes the whole experience jarring. Is it so much to ask for a game to look decent and coherent?

So to round off our trip through Starwish's half nonsensical-half disappointing universe let's talk about the gameplay. The RPG sections work fine. They're nothing special but there's plenty of weapons and mods for your ship, giving you multiple ways to make yourself feel totally powerful. Similarly the dating sim aspects are pretty good, however they only feel significant after you've completed the game a few times (in fact, you probably wouldn't know there were any unless you read it somewhere). The actual combat works fairly well too, with no lag or framerate issues, however there were a few issues with glitches that caused my ship to become stuck in walls or die instantly. There's a decent variety of enemy types, even though their appearance never changes with stage backgrounds, at least there's a number of different attack patterns. The bosses are also good fun; it's just a shame you have to fight each one multiple times as they're shamelessly repeated (along with the environment they're paired with). What's unforgivable, however, are the enemy placements on the majority of the levels in the second half of the game. At certain points in the game, you'll be given a one off choice to choose a permanent upgrade for your ship, a series of which give your ship altered firing patters. Now, for players who don't choose this upgrade and don't choose a specific weapon that can shoot through walls a huge number of enemies become impossible to destroy without flying directly into them, something that's never all that good for your overall well being. This is just an example of poor level design and should really not be overlooked.
Finally, the combat never seems to have much impact. Firing your basic machine gun feels the same as firing a massive sawblade or death dealing wave cannon, while hitting (or getting hit by) enemies never really packs much punch. It's just a bit disappointing when other flash shooters have solved this issue with something as straightforward as an occasional screen shake.

Bland conversation is bland.

But Wrapped Up In Love

To many readers this review is going to sound very negative, and that's because I intended it to be that way. As I said, I really enjoyed playing Starwish, but as a reviewer I feel that it leaves a lot to be desired in presentation, graphics and gameplay. However, it probably says a lot that I played through the entirety of Starwish twice, despite all its flaws, and will likely do so again to unlock all of its endings.

Is RPG Shooter: Starwish a game you should play? No.
Is RPG Shooter: Starwish a game you should experience? If you like RPG mechanics, great music, a lovingly written story and some pretty decent artwork then definitely.

At the risk of repeating myself, Starwish is a game that gets a lot wrong, but when it's so obvious how much care and effort went into making this game it's hard not to love it.

Visuals: Average
Sound: Great
Gameplay: Mediocre
Length: Average
Originality: Mediocre
Replayability: Great
Fun Factor: Average

Overall Score: Good

4 Commentson 3 roots

hamza`s Avatar
Rating Orb hamza 14 United Kingdom 35C 0F
6 years ago | (2)
Long review didnt actually bother reading every inch just sorta skimmed through and think you have not given it enough credit i have completed the whole game and loved everything.

The story in this game is phenomenal and the idea though not original is one of the few people who actually made a working RPG shooter that is good the drawings are good and it is very fun to play and the gameplay is pretty long.

all in all i think the rating needs to go up a mark or two
Fey`s Avatar
Rating Orb Fey 23 Antarctica 19C 5F
6 years ago | (1)
Nice review. Not much else I can add to it since I agree on pretty much all points.
Nadrin`s Avatar
Rating Orb Nadrin 15 United States MelancholicPhlegmatic 9C 0F
6 years ago | (2)
I do like how you acknowledge the fact that this game has something that a lot of others don't, that the music really had a deep effect, that questions in the beginning didn't really impact your character building, the fact that there is the rare glitch, and that there weren't that many enemies you could fight. "Get used to it, you'll be seeing the hub screen a lot in this long adventure", unlike you I didn't have any problems with the hub screen. I just thought that it was an organized way to get to where you wanted to go. Isn't that all a menu is supposed to do? I didn't really mind not knowing much about the story before it sends you into battle. I knew that I would eventually be told if I played the game and accepted it. I also didn't find any problem with the text. When people were talking they filled in the plot holes that one would complain about and so I would think that they would actually read what the characters are saying. I won't go into graphics as I would argue that pixel graphics looks awesome. The enemy placement did get rather annoying, even with me having focused in weapons that shoot through walls, but even if a player does go completely into weapons that don't shoot through walls they still get the weapon that can do it and it should adequate damage if the character is a high enough level. "Bland conversation is bland", only because it is supposed to be and that adds some more believability to the characters. Altogether you didn't do as bad of a job as I may have given the impression of, I just get angry when people don't tend to care about the story in games when that is (or I should say should be) half the game and Starwish gives a lot of it.
Sameth`s Avatar
Rating Orb Sameth 18 United Kingdom Melancholic 79C 28F
6 years ago | (1)
Thanks a lot for reading the review and I greatly appreciate your feedback.
As I stated in the conclusion, I really did enjoy the game but I felt it was very flawed and tried to show it in the review. I by no means think this is a bad game (hence why I gave it a "Good" rating), and didn't intend for so many of my comments to seem so harsh. I shall bare this in mind when writing future reviews.
As for the things you picked out, I would like to defend the reasons I gave those comments.
The Hub screen: I agree with you that the hub screen is functional which is why I didn't comment on it in the body of the review,as it did exactly as a hub should do - nothing more, nothing less. The particular comment you noted was more to do with the length of the game, referring to how many aspects of the game can seem boring after the many hours of playtime this game asks of you.
The story: I feel your comments about story are valid and that it should be something developers should put more effort into, however when it's supposed to be the defining feature of a game (as in this case) and it doesn't live up to that promise then it should be berated. The way the story is always presented after a mission in the same way over and over again just became monotonous, instead of exciting had there been flashes of what was happening while you were playing a level, for example. I did read all the story segments and there's still inconsistencies, plot holes and just a general lack of polish and coherency with many parts of the overall tale. Finally, the comment about bland conversation was to do with the presentation (as I mentioned in the review) as much as the content. In terms of what the characters actually said, I rarely found it made them believable and instead all the characters' personalities rode between cliched and plain silly, often stopping off at the junction of inconsistency.
Graphics: I don't really see how mentioning pixel graphics is appropriate here, seeing as this game does not use them, and is quite entitled not to either. My problem wasn't so much the choice of graphical style, it was the lack of consistency and how the environments just looked ugly.
Enemy Placement: While there are ways to get around the annoying enemy placement it does limit the number of play styles severely. You must either get all the upgrades that let you shoot in different directions, or a weapon that lets you shoot through walls. I just felt it was a poor design choice, when the game gives you a huge wealth of options, only to limit those which are viable options.
I apologize that you may not have enjoyed my review as much as you could have, but thank you for reading it regardless. In future I will attempt to organise some of my ideas more clearly, owing to some of the issues you raised in your feedback.
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