On land or under the sea, this game has platforming, exploration, and plenty of extras to keep everyone happy.
The Starfy series began way back in 2002 on the Game Boy Advance with the Japan-only title, Densetsu no Starfy. Over the next several years, four sequels, which were also Japan exclusives, were released. This year, the series is finally available to the western world with the fifth entry in the series, The Legendary Starfy. This title features staples of many popular Nintendo franchises including Super Mario, Kirby and even Zelda. They are all combined into a bright and colorful adventure that is well worth the wait.
The Legendary Starfy is a 2-D platformer that follows the tale of Prince Starfy, who is on a quest to help a mysterious rabbit named Bunston avoid capture by an evil group known as the Dire Pirate Squad. Starfy, with the aid of Bunston and a slew of other characters, must seek out the broken crystal shards in order for Bunston to return home and save his people.
The game is split into eight different areas. Much like a Super Mario title, players must navigate several sublevels before fighting an end boss in return for a crystal shard, thus moving on to the next area. The Starfy universe takes place above land and below water. Starfy has many different abilities for use on each of these terrains, such as the basic star spin which is useful for killing enemies on land and in water. Learning to utilize all of Starfy’s moves in conjunction with one another is a large staple of the game, not only because of its platforming nature, but because The Legendary Starfy is very heavily based on exploration . Bunston also comes to Starfy’s aid with his transformation ability, which allows Starfy to become one of four unique creatures (seal, dragon, chicken and ghost), each with their own special abilities.
While reaching the end of a level allows players to move onward in the main story line, each level offers several hidden treasure chests containing miscellaneous items, doors which open secret levels after completing a challenge, upgrades to one of Bunston’s four transformation forms and large pockets of pearls which can be spent on clothing in the submenu. Some items that players may seek within chests include journal pages from Moe’s diary, clothing items which cannot be bought and extra heart gems that give Starfy an extra life unit when three are found. Finding some of these hidden chests require abilities that Starfy has yet to learn or Bunston upgrades, so players may have to backtrack often in order to complete the game one hundred percent. In certain levels players will even need to enlist the help of a friend via local single card wireless. They will control Starfy’s little sister Starly who has her own unique set of moves which include the ability to crawl through tight spaces and jump much higher than Starfy can on land.
Replaying levels to find hidden chests, secret areas and transformation upgrades isn't the only thing that will keep players coming back for more. There are several alternative modes, including the dress up Starfy mode where players can combine items of clothing they have either purchased or found, in hopes of creating a “Special”, which is an entertaining little scene based around Starfy’s particular costume. There are also mini-games, which become unlocked as players progress through the main storyline. My personal favorite is the cooking mini-game where players must try to make as many Takoyaki balls as possible within a time limit. The mini-game is simple, fun, and controls very well. Lastly, when players complete the main storyline they unlock three new features, including a randomized toy dispenser which, for a small fee of five coins, nets players an in-game toy similar to the trophy lottery system in Super Smash Bros Melee. Trying to collect them all will undoubtedly keep interested players occupied.
The only real disappointment with this title comes from the utter lack of challenge throughout . Although thorough exploration of each level requires some time and effort, surviving through each one is by no means a difficult task. Without any real challenge, The Legendary Starfy lacks a satisfying sense of accomplishment for players.
Western gamers have waited quite a while to see Starfy on our home front, and The Legendary Starfy is a bright and charming introduction to this series with a great play experience that has much to offer long after the main campaign has ended. Fans of 2D Nintendo platformers such as Kirby and Super Mario will surely be entertained by this enjoyable title. While the challenge level leaves something to be desired, the good aspects certainly outweigh the bad, and we can only hope that the Western gaming world will continue to see more of Starfy and his outrageous companions in the future.