Star Ghost (Wii U)

STAR_BOXStar Ghost hearkens back to the good ol’ days of arcade 2-D side-scrolling shooters. Pilot your ship through 12 different star systems with various levels in each, blasting spacecraft and gathering power-ups.  But what makes this downloadable Wii U game unique is how you control your ship.

In most other 2-D shooters, you move around in all directions with the control stick or D-pad. But not in Star Ghost.  You’re always going forward, and you can move up by holding down the A button, and go down by releasing it.  It kind of reminds me of how you control characters in games like Joust or Balloon Fight or even Lunar Lander a little bit.  You’re always firing your weapon so you don’t have to hold down another button for that.  But you can move the left stick around to aim your shots a little.  You can also hold back on the left stick to activate a tractor beam that can suck in nearby power-ups, making it a little easier to nab them (but not much).

Speaking of which, there are several power-ups you can get by defeating enemies. Some will replenish your shields, increase your rate of fire or bullet spread, or make your tractor beam bigger.  All these power-ups are temporary, though, and will downgrade over time, so you’ll want to pick up as many as you can when you see them.  Most of what you’ll pick up, though, are credits.  If you pick up enough, you can use those credits at the end of each world to buy more upgrades.  Just watch out for power-ups with a red circle around them.  Those have viruses in them, and if you nab one, you won’t be able to fire your weapon for a while!

The only main problem I have with this game is that I’m not a big fan of titles that make things more challenging by messing with the controls, which is what this game does. There is also no continue option so if you die (and you only get one life and three to five hits), you’ll have to start over at the beginning.  But that’s how arcade games were so I can understand why they did that here.  Other than that, though, it’s a pretty decent little classic-styled shooter.  What I think is cool is that the folks who made this game also used to work at great companies like Retro Studios, and the music was composed by a former Rare employee.  So if you like supporting indie game companies, Star Ghost is a good one to get.


Kid Factor:

Star Ghost is rated E-10 with an ESRB descriptor of Mild Fantasy Violence. You can shoot spacecraft and get blown up yourself, but most of the objects in the game just look like abstract geometric shapes, so it’s not that violent at all, really.  I’d be OK with any kid playing this.  Reading skill is helpful for some of the text, but not necessary as it’s pretty easy to figure out just by playing.  Younger gamers may get frustrated at the higher difficulty in the later levels.

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