Super Stardust Delta review for PS Vita

Platform: PS Vita
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Housemarque
Medium: Digital Download
Players: 1
Online: Leaderboards, DLC

Super Stardust HD is still the dual stick space shooter that all other dual stick space shooters on the PS3 strive to match up to. The straightforward asteroids-style shooting action, based on the old Commodore Amiga classic, has withstood the test of time quite nicely. The original PSP version named Super Stardust Portable was a reasonable handheld recreation of the PSN game, though with the lack of a second stick and not quite enough horsepower to throw around the same level of visuals, it wasn’t as exciting as hoped. Now, thanks to the powerful PS Vita and the newly released Super Stardust Delta, we finally can enjoy a real version of Super Stardust on the go.

Super Stardust Delta is really not a new entry in the series unfortunately. The game is clearly based on Super Stardust HD with just a few touches from Super Stardust Portable and a handful of Vita specific features and modes. Housemarque has somehow, easily crammed the impressive 1080p PS3 action onto the Vita with next to no visual or gameplay sacrifices that I could see. Delta looks like Super Stardust HD, plays like SSD HD and sounds like SSD HD… just on a smaller screen. The particles and effects are every bit as impressive on the Vita’s sharp OLED screen and of course the dual analog sticks make all the difference in terms of controls.

While the game is more or less identical to HD, in terms of weaponry, there are a few differences found in the PS Vita version as compared to the PS3 original. The standard rock crusher weapon is completely gone leaving you with only the ice breaker and the gold melter. It’s an odd thing to change, and without a 3rd weapon to cycle through, it seems to make the game just a bit easier since you aren’t required to match up your current weapon to the asteroids / enemies quite as much. Also, in addition to the standard screen-clearing bomb, there is also a missile swarm and black hole weapon that can be unleashed to help out in tricky situations. Because they have slightly different usages, there’s a tad more strategy involved when deciding which special weapon to use in a pinch.

Delta, thanks to the Vita’s various control features, has even more options for those willing to make use of them. Other than using the 2 sticks for movement and firing, the Vita can be shaken to trigger a bomb, the front screen can be tapped to unleash a volley of seeker missiles, or the rear touch surface can trigger a black hole. Tilting the unit will give you a better look of the playfield as well. Knowing that not all gamers may want to utilize the fancy new control scheme, Super Stardust Delta still offers a “Pure” mode with classic controls as well. So you have all bases covered. Whichever scheme you choose Delta plays amazingly well and will surely suck you in for hours at a time trying to beat your friend’s scores and place on the leaderboards.

Sound awesome so far? Well, Super Stardust Delta will set you back $10 if you pick it up from the PlayStation Store, but as is, it’s missing several modes. The core game is there, which includes the Arcade and Planets modes, and several exclusive Vita challenge modes that make use of the various new hardware features such as utilizing the touch screen to slide a disc around, or tilt-only controls while firing. If you want the full experience, you’ll have to drop another $8 for the “Blast Pack” DLC which has the Endless, Impact, Bomber and Twin Gun modes. You can save a few dollars and buy both Super Stardust Delta and the DLC as an “Interstellar Bundle” if you’re interested in everything that the game has to offer at once. Options are good I suppose, though clearly, you’re not playing the full game unless you spring for the bundle. I’m not sure if I’m crazy about this trend yet, but it does make me think twice before buying a game these days.

Super Stardust Delta is more or less Super Stardust HD, and if you’re itching to take what is essentially the PS3 game with you, it’s an excellent pickup. For those who aren’t interested in blasting through the same game again, you’ll just have to wait patiently for some sort of a real sequel.

Grade: B+