Title: Star Hunter DX
Developer: 1CC Games
Release Date: August 5, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Chorus Worldwide
Star Hunter DX is a 2D pixelated side-scrolling shoot-em-up. Inspired by arcade classics and 80’s cartoons, this game follows the traditional formula of navigating the onslaught of enemy projectiles while acquiring power-ups and completing the level if you can survive an encounter with an armored boss.
Star Hunter DX’s style is extremely vibrant. Supersaturated projectiles make this game a psychedelic, heart-pounding thrill ride through the stages. The premise follows Luna Starr; a former space pirate captain turned rogue bounty hunter, now out for blood against her old crew. Along with Luna, there are two other playable characters. Edgar, some strange old dude, and CAT-99, Luna’s homing missile-equipped robot maintenance cat.
What makes Star Hunter DX unique is the inventive way it approaches gameplay. Traditionally, shoot-em-ups can be brutal in difficulty to the novice player. While this game is no exception, the mechanics provide offensive and defensive skills that can get you out of the most sticky bullet-hell situations.
Bombs provide a 360-degree shield that not only annihilates any projectile but also vaporizes enemies in your immediate vicinity. Additionally, you have access to “bullet time,” a Max Payne stylized power-up that allows you to slow down incoming ships and the speed of their projectiles. The game rewards you with near misses of asteroids and enemy projectiles by boosting your Bullet-time bar. Both bombs and Bullet-time are extremely useful as you take on an armada of space pirates.
While in “bullet-time,” projectiles from all enemies and their ships are transmuted into gold cubes. These gold cubes are multipliers that increase your overall score. The game dares you to wait for more enemies to appear on screen so you can get an increased score, but this comes with a greater risk. Do you risk it all trying to increase your score, or do you play it safe?
There are 5 worlds to explore with 6 bosses. At the same time, all the Bosses feel unique and challenging. Unfortunately, some of the worlds seem to get lost in the mayhem of gameplay. To help plan your run, there is a practice mode that allows you to become accustomed to attack patterns and boss movements. There are also three difficulty levels that allow you to define how hard the game is.
However, modes that you’d expect from a modern shmup are missing from the game to increase replayability. After I completed the stages, I was surprised by the lack of extra modes such as Time Attack, Boss-Rush, or anything else. The focus here mainly went into making the levels fun to play, but the lasting factor is cut short given that there isn’t much to do after. I will say that the focus on level design paid off in some stages, such as the underwater world, but I couldn’t help but want a few extra modes to sink some additional time into this experience. I should note that there are collectibles and challenges, but they felt more tacked on than actual modes.
Star Hunter DX is a charming and dazzling tribute to the classics of the genre. The 2-D art style is reminiscent of the old arcades paired with a nostalgic 16-bit soundtrack. Controls are responsive with a nice variety of abilities and difficulty modes to play through the campaign. However, the lack of extra modes was disappointing and weighed on the replayability. Still, if you’re looking for a colorful shmup to test your skills, look no further.
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