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iPhone App Video Review: Stardash

by Andrew Koziara

Stardash is a new retro platformer from Orange Pixel, the same people who brought us Meganoid and Super Drill Panic. Orange Pixel has always dealt in the old school ways of graphics, gameplay, and sound, and now they’ve decided to tackle the original Game Boy.

In fact, the developers have stated that their intention was to create what they imagine Nintendo would make if they ever dealt with the iPhone. So did they succeed? I’d say so.

Stardash is a callback to games like Super Mario Land on the original Game Boy. All the graphics and sound seem like they were lifted straight from the Game Boy itself. 1-bit Ninja was another game to successfully pull off this aesthetic recently, but Stardash sticks with more traditional means of play. You move left and right, and you jump. It’s simple, just like the olden days. Each level pits you against a variety of enemies and jumping challenges, some very familiar, and others not so much. Instead of a flag, the end of each level holds two balloons that your character flies away on. One is worth ten points, and the other is harder to reach and worth a hundred. Each level also hides two secret areas with collectible Temple Keys. Collecting every key in a world will unlock the final level of that world, though I have been unable to do so and can’t really talk about what lies within these levels.

The game is rife with old school challenge, but with that comes old school frustration. This game can be especially challenging if you’re the kind that likes to bolt through levels at top speed. Slow and steady might be the order of the day here. You have the unique ability in this game to jump in mid-air if you run off of a ledge. As long as you didn’t jump beforehand, you can pull this move off. In fact, the game demands you do it often, and it completely goes against my natural gamer instinct to jump at the last possible second before falling. This makes the jumping challenges that much more difficult, but also very satisfying.

This is a very well made game, and I’ve harped enough about old school aesthetics. Orange Pixel nailed everything they were going for in this veritable symphony of old school gaming. Both Game Center and Openfeint achievements and leaderboards are supported for your competitive needs. This is an iOS universal app, and it’s only two dollars. Check it out.

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