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BLAZING STAR Review

By Dave Flodine, on August 6, 2012


BLAZING STAR
Download on the AppStore
Rating

PROS

  • Great port of a little known Neo Geo classic.
  • Fantastic sprite art.

CONS

  • No matter the control scheme, you're covering the screen with your thumb, a no no in a side-scrolling shooter.
  • The voices on collecting bonuses are quite obnoxious.

VERDICT

If you like side-scrolling shooters and missed this one in 1998, give this faithful port a go. Just beware that the control scheme brings complications.


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There are many game systems that while having a decent collection of titles, just never gained widespread market appeal and withered because of this. Luckily thanks to downloadable services, re-releases, remakes, and the App Store, a lot of the best games of these systems can be played by a whole new generation of fans. One such example is the Neo Geo Home System, and the subject of the current review, Blazing Star.

Released in 1998, what we have here is a classic side-scrolling shooter in the vain of R-Type, or U.N. Squadron. There's a story told haphazardly via sparse cut-scenes, and an intro that uses a mixture of cartoon animation mixed with early full motion video technology, but let's be honest, the reason these games are played is for the shooting, dodging, upgrading, and high scores. So how does this stack up with other genre heavyweights?

Fairly well actually. The game begins by picking from a variety of characters and ships, each with differing speeds, charge attacks, and the look of their space-faring vessel. From there it's all action! The first level eases you into things with easy enemy patterns, and not too much bullet spammage; but this is only a quick introduction. After the first boss fight (which are all timed so you have to defeat them quickly as well as avoid all their attacks), the game really starts to take off, and to get through unscathed requires quick reflexes, all the upgrades and bonuses you can collect, and an intuitive sense on when to charge your weapon, and what attack to unleash.

The game uses on screen buttons and you have a choice between an on-screen joystick or just moving your finger to move the ship. The aforementioned choice of attacks happens when you hold the attack button. Your charge meter starts to fill and if you release the attack button, you'll unleash a focused power attack, but if you hit the other button instead, you charge attack will spread out as ranged fire, covering more ground. The response of the controls is fine, but those that love these types of games may already see the problem incoming. No matter what you use to control your ship, you're taking up valuable screen space with your finger, and it's all too easy to not see a small projectile heading in your direction. Perhaps this is less an issue on the iPad, but on the iPhone it makes you feel like you're at a disadvantage.

Presentation is a mixed bag. The sprites are all beautiful and the art style holds up extremely well for a fourteen year old game. The intro does show its age due to the early 3d technology, but seeing it's a product of the time, that's understandable. The music is fantastic, but the sound effects... if only there was a way to turn them off. The English sound clips become torturous after just a couple minutes of play, and it's a shame that muting everything is the only way to escape from them.

If you're looking for a side-scrolling shooter, Blazing Star is a complete package. Its weaknesses in being ported are overshadowed by its look, the strength of its gameplay, and how fun it is. It's definitely worthy of the second chance it's now received.

Screenshots

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