- PAL release: 4th December 1998
- NA release: 29th June 1999
- JP release: N/A
- Developer: Infogrames
- Publisher: Infogrames
- N64 Magazine Score: 68%
Starshot looks like a fun game. It has a very whacky story and fun looking characters. You play as Starshot, designed to be an emotionless super soldier but he gained a conscience and joined a struggling space circus. They need to put on the show of a lifetime in order to pay off the bank, or else they’ll all blow up.
Travelling across multiple planets to find some interesting “exhibits”, the underappreciated Starshot, with the help of Willfly and Willfall, is tasked to do all the hard work.
With some fun levels and decent platforming, this would be an enjoyable romp. Sadly, this isn’t the case. The platforming is extremely rough. Starshot’s acrobatic jump doesn’t feel natural and it’s extremely difficult to judge its distance – he’ll fall down a lot of bottomless pits because you thought you were above a platform.
The frameratre is also over the place, so many of your jumps will be further ruined by the game slowing down and messing with how long you need to hold forwards more. Most of the death feel like the game’s fault. Surprisingly, Starshot is one of the few N64 games that offers proper widescreen.
While the levels are interesting in terms of theme – and some have interesting backstory to them, the level design itself is atrocious, mostly comprising of long, thin platforms across bottomless pits. None of the levels are fun to navigate, to the point where it’s best to get as many fuel tokens as possible and use Willfall (your little rocket robot) to fly and skip as much as you can.
And I haven’t even talked about the camera. It starts out promising, as you can freely move the camera and even set the distance you want. It it stuck like this, it would be fine, but the camera constantly attempts to get into a “better” position and this throws off your movement even more. While in an indoor area, it swings about widely and you can never see what you want to look at, with enemies right in front of you being off-screen.
It really is a shame as there is a lot that I would enjoy about the game if the core mechanics simply worked. The objectives are silly in a fun way, and some of the details – such as why everyone on Earth was wiped out – are great. The ending is pretty horrible, (being a sequel bait when they had no intention of making a sequel), and jumping in the final level results in instant death, but there are plenty of nice ideas throughout the game – just none of them executed well.
The more scenery and moving objects there are on screen, the more ‘jerky’ it becomes. Players not only have to adjust to the precision jumping demanded from a shockingly early stage, they also have to take into account the game’s habit of jerking like a body popper when the graphics engine deems sacrificing ‘smooth’ for ‘speed’ is appropriate. similarly, hero Starshot’s odd running gait makes judging jumps from the traditional ‘chase’ view a nightmate.James Price, N64 Magazine #22
Remake or remaster?
While Starshot is a horrible game, it could become something really enjoyable with a new attempt. It would need to just take the general idea of characters, story and levels and rebuild everything else from scratch, though.
Official Ways to get the game
Starshot is available on Steam, however this is just a re-release of the original 1999 PC version and has a ton of issues on modern systems: framerate going down to single digits (even worse than the N64 version), not being able to access the pause menu or map from a controller, the camera being mapped to the D-pad, poor resolution support and other problems.
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