Thoughts on Super Stardust Portable

I don’t really know what I was expecting from the PSP version of this great game, but I fancied killing a few birds with one stone: using the PlayStation Store naitively on the PSP, then buying and running a downloadable game.

Before I get ahead of myself, I’ll just give you the lowdown.  Super Stardust HD was the blockbuster PlayStation Network title of 2007 which attracted plenty of attention in 2008 by being the first game ever on the PS3 to support Trophies by means of a patch.

Super Stardust Portable aims to capture the essence of its bigger brother, and share the magic on the small screen with PSP gamers.  I have to admit that I don’t really see much of what captured my attention with the first game, in this portable version.  Read on, and I’ll tell you why…

To me, the problem is twofold.  First you’ve got the controls which have to compensate for lack of a second analog stick.  In Super Stardust HD, the left stick controls movement, and the right stick controls weapons fire independently, in any direction.  In Portable,  weapons fire is mapped to the face buttons (X, Square, Triangle, Circle) which is the only logical solution, but not a particularly elegant solution.

I’ve found myself not able to execute the same precision weapons fire as in Super Stardust HD which results in needless death, and to further compound things mashing the face buttons with your thumb really hurts after a while.

My second bugbear is you’re no longer cruising in your ship around a complete globe (I already knew this before buying the game).  Sure, you’re still on a planet which resembles a curve but as far as I can tell, the game space us open-ended.  Whereas in Super Stardust HD, if you moved right round the globe, any mines would be where you last saw them and any asteroids would be in roughly the same place.  This leaves such tactical planning as to where you may go next, totally impossible.

Such thoughts are obviously behind the disparity in Metacritic scores, with Super Stardust HD netting a score of 82, and Super Stardust Portbable nabbing a score of 72.  Whilst you may feel that I’m totally slating this game, it is only in the light of Super Stardust HD.  Portable is a great game in it’s own right, but for fans of Super Stardust HD it’s just going to be a total letdown.

Super Stardust HD in action
Super Stardust HD in action

Just some side notes on the PlayStation Store: the Store works perfectly, giving the user a nice visual treat, like on the PS3.  Pricing at £6.29 I believe is reasonable, but once you start adding the multiplayer pack etc, it starts to get a bit pricey as an overall package.

It’s interesting to see that the PSP now has the PlayStation Store where PSP gamers can now buy and download games directly.  This has been a much needed feature as not everyone’s a fan of games shipping on UMDs all the time.

It’s worth emphasising that Super Stardust Portable as a PlayStation Network game, is a download only.  There’s no case or packshot if you’ve been Googling it, and most certainly no UMD disk of any kind.  This is different to games such as LocoRoco 2 which ARE available both on UMD and as a download on the PlayStation Store.

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