If anyone has ever read my short bio below, they’d know that the original Game Boy was my favorite video game system.
Heck, I even have Game Boy buttons tattooed on my thumbs. No system spoke to me more than that one. Its beautiful shades of green and black were so soothing. I also loved the impossible difficulty of most of the games. Where they lacked in memory to extend the game, they made up for it with a difficulty curve that was simply sadistic. Stardash brings back all these joys. It also brings back the awesomely frustrating difficulty.
Stardash is styled to look like an old 4-bit Game Boy title, from its sound, to its graphics, even to a lot of its animations. It’s purely charming. While the beautiful art style is a great throwback, that’s not the only thing that can be called classic. Stardash is also absolutely, bordering on impossibly, difficult. This isn’t a bad thing, though.
There are four worlds in the game with ten levels each. As you complete them, you can start from any level of your choice when you start the game. The developer (OrangePixel) has also been kind enough to give you infinite lives, so no matter how many times you die (and you will, many, many times) you can just restart the level you were on each time.
The gameplay itself is very similar to old Mario games. You run from left to right while jumping around to avoid enemies and their attacks. Also, jumping on an enemy will kill them, which keeps things familiar. The end of each level has two balloons, one up high and one down low. The higher one is worth more points, but is insanely difficult to grab. Each stage has a timer, but you don’t instantly lose when it reaches zero. Instead, it is merely a way to get more points (or stars) if you can finish the stage before it runs out.
The controls are very simple and very solid. You have a large left and right button on the left side of the screen, and a jump button in the right. They are very easy to use and react really flawlessly. The game has also been designed with slightly elevated level structure so the buttons never get in the way. Stardash features Game Center integration with 13 achievements and a leaderboard to encourage your competitive side.
Stardash really does an stunning job of not only bringing back the feel of one of the greatest eras in portable gaming, but refining it to a whole new degree. If you’re a fan of that genre, or are just looking for a real challenge, this is a game I can’t recommend enough!