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The Legendary Starfy

Platform(s): Nintendo DS
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: June 7, 2009

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NDS Review - 'The Legendary Starfy'

by Matt Olsen on June 22, 2009 @ 3:17 a.m. PDT

The Legendary Starfy lets players dive into a spectacular undersea adventure with Starfy, the legendary hero of Pufftop. Players swoop into enemies like a shooting star, glide over bottomless chasms and transform into powerful creatures to help a mysterious, bunny-eared visitor find his lost memory.

Starfy is a Nintendo character that most gamers aren't familiar with, and this is due to the fact that all of his games have only been released in Japan under the name of Densetsu no Stafy.  He made a cameo appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as an assist trophy that spun around and knocked away anyone who came in contact with the spinning starfish.  Now American gamers can be charmed by his cuteness in The Legendary Starfy for the DS, the fifth game in the franchise.

Starfy is the prince of Pufftop Palace, which is located high up in the clouds. Miraculously, Starfy and his aquatic friends don't require water to survive.  It's just an average day, and Starfy is snoozing until an extraterrestrial rabbit named Bunston crashes into the castle, panics and runs off.  Starfy and his loudmouth clam buddy, Moe, set out to follow Bunston and discover that he has lost his memory.  Along the way, they find a crystal shard that appears to cause some of Bunston's memory to return.  The group sets out on a quest for the remaining crystal shards, while being pursued by a group of space pirates who wish to capture Bunston.  The characters definitely give off a Kirby vibe, which is unusual considering Kirby is made by HAL and Starfy is made by TOSE.  Regardless of potential crossovers, the story definitely has a cute and lighthearted charm.

Players will guide Starfy across eight stages that have all of your favorite themes, including: gloomy galleons, snowy glaciers, vast forests, volcanic mountains, etc., through the level archetypes.  Each stage features four main levels, with three secret levels to be discovered upon extensive exploration of each.  That sense of exploration is reminiscent of Super Mario World, with its hidden levels and exits.  The general theme of the game is aquatic, but there are numerous sections that take place on land and in the air.  When in water, pressing the A button will allow you to swim faster, while on land, it's used for your jump.  Starfy's patented spin attack is performed with the Y button.  One issue I came across early in the game is that you can't go "spin happy."  If you spin too much, Starfy will get dizzy and be prone to attacks for a few seconds.  On average, you can only spin in rapid succession three or four times before getting dizzy.  If you time your spins just right, you can pull off more without losing momentum.

As the game progresses, Starfy learns new abilities, such as a double-jump, a ground pound and a torpedo-like propulsion from the surface of the water.  Bunston also has special powers of his own that allow him to transform into creatures to aid Starfy, including: a fire-breathing dragon, a spear-wielding seal, a crowing chicken and a translucent ghost.  These transformations can be activated in specific sections of a level where the respective form is needed.  For example, the chicken's crowing activates floating platforms that allow Starfy to access high ledges.

Furthermore, players can receive indirect assistance from Starfy's friends.  The mermaid who saves your progress when you meet her in levels also provides hints on various situations. A wise, old lobster logs statistics on how far you've traveled, how many star spins you've performed, and how many enemies you've defeated. Bunston will show you how many shards and heart gems you've collected; the latter adds another heart to Starfy's health for each three he collects.  Finally, Moe provides the most useful help by informing you of any nearby treasure or hidden doors.  This all takes place on the touch-screen, where tapping their respective icon toggles the character's ability.  The rest of the action in The Legendary Starfy takes place on the top screen.

Some of the treasure that was previously mentioned ranges from character diaries that provide players with additional insight on the game's story, to decoration items that Starfy can wear on the menu screen.  Additional accessories can be purchased on the menu screen with the numerous star gems Starfy collects in levels.  For the most part, these items are for flavor purposes and don't affect the gameplay.

Aside from the main game, there are several mini-games included for a minor distraction.  The games support wireless multiplayer with both multi-cart and single-cart play.  Probably one of the better features is the main game has a two-player cooperative mode, with the second player controlling Starfy's sister Starly, who has a set of unique abilities such as wall jumps and crawling.  After completing the main game, there is an extra chapter where players control Starly during the events that take place in the main story.

The gameplay is fun, though mind-numbingly easy, but it is also complemented with great visuals.  The characters and levels are bright and colorful, and the story is told through comic book panels and extensive amounts of reading. Character models include sharp-looking sprites like the Kirby games on the DS, and not the 2.5-D models found in New Super Mario Bros.  Personally, I prefer sprites to the latter and didn't think too much about the full-sized Starfy 3-D model that appears with your decorated items on the menu screen.  Levels combine elements of the 2-D sprites in the foreground with stunning 3-D backdrops that add to the environments.

Accompanying the graphics is a selection of upbeat tunes that makes up the soundtrack.  With my experience with platformers, they tend to have some of the most memorable tracks, and this title is no different.  There's an overall tropical theme to the music, which isn't surprising considering the mostly aquatic environments of the game.  The sound effects are nice and retro, so you'll hear bleeps and bloops for jumping and attacking. There isn't any voice work, aside from the noises Starfy makes when he speaks; the noises are typically incomprehensible cheers of joy and squeals of pain, similar to the ones that Kirby makes.

Overall, I found The Legendary Starfy to be an enjoyable game.  It's definitely too easy in terms of difficulty, and it's a bit lengthy.  Seasoned veterans of the genre will notice similarities to the Kirby series and probably fly through the game in no more than five hours.  The co-op play is nice if you have a friend with a DS but no extra copies of the game.  After the initial run through, there isn't much reason to go back.

Score: 7.8/10


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