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The Adventures of Star Saver (Game Boy) artwork

The Adventures of Star Saver (Game Boy) review


"Imagine: a run 'n gun game where you play as a tough LAPD cop who looks like he's twelve, surrounded by giant pill bugs, vicious cartoony dogs, and killer music notes, your trusty standard issue handgun drawn and your sentient mech sidekick at your side. Do I sense the makings for a buddy cop film? The landscape is wondrous, but the alien world they are on looks forbidding. The two are grateful to have one another. They know their trials will be many, but don't realize they won't be very try..."



Imagine: a run 'n gun game where you play as a tough LAPD cop who looks like he's twelve, surrounded by giant pill bugs, vicious cartoony dogs, and killer music notes, your trusty standard issue handgun drawn and your sentient mech sidekick at your side. Do I sense the makings for a buddy cop film? The landscape is wondrous, but the alien world they are on looks forbidding. The two are grateful to have one another. They know their trials will be many, but don't realize they won't be very trying. Despite the charming presentation and a few enjoyable moments The Adventures of Star Saver is just another run 'n gun platformer unfortunately crushed by its undemanding difficulty and unoriginal gameplay.

You start off inside the mech, blasting away at anything that moves. No, literally. You will see moving music notes in this game and think nothing of them, but dammit, you better start blasting. Bumping into them will stun you and allow a passing dragonfly to smack into you. If you're in the mech when you take a hit, it means the protagonist, Tony, will leap out and squeal like a frightened rodent. You'll then have to traverse the level looking for power up to restore the mech, or be damned to listen to the most irritating and babyish music ever trumpeted by any portable system's speakers. You'd swear from Tony's appearance, childishly high-pitched voice, and theme music provided by a PlaySkool nursery CD that he's a child holding a watergun rather than a street smart cop like the instruction manual portrays him to be. Tony not only cries like a little girl, but shoots much more slowly than the mech and runs a little faster.

Every level is very easy. It's a quick run from start to finish, blasting everything in your path and picking up power ups like a lion's head or bouncing triangles that makes you invincible or jets that allow you to fly for a short time. What makes the levels so easy is that there are power ups all over the place. You can advance through large chunks of levels while immune to enemies, as there are plenty of lion's heads and triangles throughout. You can grab some other power ups, like a cross that gives your mech a spray attack or harpoon that prevents you from losing a life if you fall into a pit--yet another thing that makes the game way too easy. The most common hazard is the pitfall. Those harpoons are all over the place, and each one gives you multiple shots. You can easily rack them up, and falling into pits becomes no issue at all. It makes a pit feel less like a hazard and more like a formality.

Loosening up the controls, perhaps even adding a little more slipperiness to them, would have increased the difficulty and made the platforming much more worthwhile. However, this game sports very tight controls. You can easily stop on a dime without worrying about missing your mark. While it's nice to have such stable controls, it's a minor mar to have controls that contribute to making the game too easy.

Levels all follow different interesting themes, though some of them do not look very alien. You will have one level full of high tech traps and gizmos followed by a level with trees with gnarled boughs and massive castles. The former feels right at home, but the latter feels lifted from a Wizards & Warriors game. It was like the developers couldn't think of enough levels that would accentuate the alien world feel and just insisted that any level they create would be alien enough. I suppose it's not totally implausible, but it still feels out of place. Still, the fact that levels have themes shows that there was at least some kind of thought process in development.

Let's face it, though. It's not the themes we care about as much in a platformer as it is the designs--the special obstacles and hazards that accentuate the platforming and action, and hopefully stimulate that organ between your ears. Do our levels have these things? Yes and no. Level one has an instance where you can go no further to the right, but have to drop blindly down and land on different moving planets. It's somewhat challenging when you first play the game, but after you've learned the layout of the level, it becomes nothing more than simple procedure. More than that, it's a nice change from having to scroll from left to right and breaks the tedium a little. Other levels have special hazards, like caves in level three that will either take your further ahead in the level or expel a powerful wind that will send you flying, potentially into an enemy; or flashing bricks in the castle level that will activate different platforms, but can only be done in certain orders and can only be activated in certain ways such a jumping on them several times or shooting them. These are all small details, but they break the tedium just enough to make the game better than average.

But only just better than average...

The game has a fair amount of well-placed single shot enemies, a key quality for a well made action/side scroller. However, all one needs to do to survive is get the spray shot, run like hell, mash the B button, jump occasionally, and hope none of the enemies coming up split into three as they sometimes do. You only get the one weapon power up, and sadly it's one that also aids in making the game too easy.

The only real screwball Star Saver throws you is an indestructible boss in the seventh level. The only way around him is to happen upon a hidden bonus level that will take you to a different part of the stage with the true exit. It's sad that the only way the developers could compensate for the lacking difficulty was to trick you.

The Adventures of Star Saver is a forgettable run 'n gun platformer with a few fun moments and very sparse challenges. It's a real walk in the park. You get no continues or passwords, but you really won't need them. The game loads you up with enough power ups and simple situations that you won't need to flex your gaming muscle much to master it. Maybe you won't beat it on your first try, but it shouldn't take most gamers long to figure out how to do so. Play it maybe once to see if you like it. When you're done with it, move on and try something else. If it doesn't strike you as interesting, it's not just you. It's just the fact that there isn't much special about it.

Rating: 6/10

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (December 30, 2010)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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