Thunderbolt logo

The Legendary Starfy

Nintendo’s presence this year at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) might not have knocked people’s socks off, but surely it was a step up from their sleeper appearance at last year’s show. However, some folks are still crying foul at Nintendo for not showing off any new properties, even though Starfy slipped in under the radar pretty much as the show was going on. The Legendary Starfy is a platform adventure starring a loveable, sugary sweet starfish and his pal, Moe the clam. If you haven’t yet jumped on their bandwagon, read on to find out why you should.

screenshot

To clarify, the Starfy (or Stafy, as he’s known in Japan) franchise has actually been around for a number of years now, getting its start on the Game Boy Advance back in 2002. However, the series has never left Japan until now. Shrugged off as “too Japanese” by the powers that be, this latest outing of the Kirby-like hero is a really nice surprise we’re glad Nintendo is finally sharing with the rest of the world.

As the story goes, Starfy and Moe are out and about the castle of Pufftop one day when a space bunny comes crashing down from the skies. Having lost his memory and on the run from a group of unrelenting thugs, Starfy and Moe set out to help their new cadet friend, Bunston. It’s a really silly story with an art style and presentation obviously geared toward kids, but the writing is top notch and the gameplay… well, it’s out of this world. If you’re still in touch with your inner child, chances are you’ll have a blast joining these guys on their adventure.

screenshot

The first thing that comes to mind when playing Starfy is Kirby. Their worlds are both playful, the characters are equally giddy and over the top, and the gameplay in doled out in similar fashion. The Legendary Starfy is broken up into several worlds, with each one made up of a handful of levels. Additionally, if you manage to scrounge around enough, you’ll unlock hidden levels for each world.

As a starfish, Starfy will spend a good deal of time under water. He can glide using the d-pad, and zip about swiftly by holding the B button. His main attack is a spin move (using the Y button), and it’s useful against most enemies throughout the game. As you move further into the story, you’ll unlock additional abilities for Starfy, but it’s the platforming that really keeps the game fresh.

screenshot

During the first couple of worlds, The Legendary Starfy offers little to no challenge, though the difficulty ramps up steadily. The game never becomes frustratingly hard, and what keeps Starfy interesting for the duration of the game are the different platforming elements that are revealed along the way. One of my personal favorites is a level that forces you to spin into a giant acorn, causing it to hit a wall, knocking loose a flurry of water bubbles that you’ll then need to have Starfy swim through by jumping from bubble to bubble in order to reach higher platforms.

In addition to Starfy’s regular abilities, he’ll occasionally be prompted to team up with Bunston, who can transform Starfy into various creatures, including a fire-breathing dinosaur, a sort of narwhal-type creature who can turn pockets of water to ice, as well as two other special abilities unlocked later on. The game also allows you to play co-op with another player (though each player is required to have their own copy of the game) by calling upon Starfy’s kid sister, Starly. Starly possesses a few of her own unique abilities, and co-op play is a neat addition reminiscent of Kirby & the Amazing Mirror.

screenshot

Toward the end of the adventure there are some advanced platforming elements that, though they may not offer the most-fierce challenge ever, are sure to bring a smile to any gamer’s face. There’s also an incredible cornucopia of goodies to uncover throughout the game. Each level is littered with treasure chests, containing everything from new outfits for Starfy, to heart pieces that will extend his life bar. Additionally, you’ll collect star bits along the way, and you can use them to buy even more trinkets from Moe. Moe also has his own talk show, which you can watch at any time by pausing the game; it’s little more than a series of short interviews with random characters seen throughout the adventure, but it’s another endearing extra fans of the game are sure to love.

Rounding out the presentation are some of the best visuals and sound you could hope for in a DS game. Starfy and pals are all rendered in 2D, as are the platforming elements. However, most of the backgrounds and some of the bosses are three dimensional, and it makes for a really great-looking style. Everything’s pixel perfect, and the cut scenes, modeling, and character stills have all been lovingly crafted. Some of the music might prove to be a bit too sweet for some tastes, but it’s all quite fitting alongside the characters and game design. The sound effects, though, are a total treat and have lots of pop and zing to them.

screenshot

Though Starfy has seen mild success in the import market, he’s mostly an unknown quantity outside of Japan. It’s somewhat sad that Nintendo decided to schedule his western debut during E3 without so much as a mention during their press conference. The Legendary Starfy isn’t the most challenging adventure on DS, but it sure is one of the most enjoyable. It’s full of light-hearted, lovable characters and perfectly executed gameplay. If you think you’re too manly for this outing, that’s truly a shame, since it’s one of those titles that just makes you feel good deep down inside. It’s made for kids of all ages, and Starfy’s well deserving of sitting alongside Nintendo’s other great gaming legends.

9 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in August 2008.

Gentle persuasion

You should check out our podcast.