Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Slingstar Review


The term "wingman" has taken on a different meaning these days, but the original definition referred to pilots who would accompany others in dangerous flying campaigns. Well, in Slingstar, you control a ship with the most effective and crucial wingmen in history - they can kill anything. And yes, they also can help you pick up the ladies in a crowded bar when you've had 4 too many drinks and you can only communicate with facial expressions and hand signals.

Slingstar is a spaceship game with a 'hook' that involves flinging your wingmen around as your primary weapon. You don't have any guns, so you have to rely on this mechanic to clean up the bad guys. You're contained in one screen, and various enemies filter in from the edges - clean up the mess to advance to the next more difficult level. One hit, and bam you're dead.

I have to admit, I was skeptical of this concept. I've played other games with similar "fling" mechanics where I just didn't get much enjoyment out of mashing the joysticks around haphazardly, crossing my fingers that whatever I was twirling would go where I intended. There was no precision or skill really - it became blind navigation which tested my patience more than satisfied my need to explode things.

Well I cannot say that Slingstar removes this issue entirely, but it does it the best that I've seen it done. And it also does so many other things well that the total package became much more appealing. So you're still tasked with navigating your ship in such a way that your orbiting wingmen make contact with enemies. Like I said, this particular mechanic feels flawed by design simply because it's so highly random, but Slingstar makes it feel ..... pretty good.

With some practice, and if you gather some powerups, hitting enemies does get easier. You can exercise different tactics - such as zoom around quickly skimming by enemies to clip them with your wingmen. Or I also had some success by doing a back-and-forth motion that swung my wingmen around me in a wide forcefield like manner. It will depend on the enemies you're facing and how they like to kill you.
Remember how I said that Slignstar does so many other things right? Well it does - the graphics are simple but crisp and while enemies are mostly grouping of shapes, they move elegantly and offer different challenges (for example, see glowy octopus in screenshot). And the sounds are gorgeous - they interact with the gameplay/action and create a mellow/dark mood that suits the game nicely. It's casual in the sense that the only goal is to advance levels, and you have unlimited lives. There are some really nice (big) bosses to face off against, and cool explosion and firework effects built in.

So all and all, if you can find some novelty and enjoyment from swinging your wingmen around rather than firing off huge guns and missiles, then you'll definitely want to try Slignstar. This game is very nicely priced at 80MP ($1) so it's honestly worth that without question. It wouldn't be crazy to see it at the 240MP mark. So have a look, pull the trigger.

1 comment:

  1. I've played the trial for this a lot, and the control scheme STILL annoys the hell out of me for some reason. I just can't quite put my finger on it. I'm still running through the trial to get the hang of it, I'll probably snag it one of these days. I just don't like how a single analog stick does everything.