Beatshapers has just brought their StarDrone series to Playstation VR, kickstarting 2018’s wave of VR titles for the Playstation 4 alongside The Inpatient, also out this week.
If StarDrone VR sounds familiar, it’s probably because the game has been around on the Playstation Network for quite a while with iterations for the PS3 as well as the Vita available already. They’re attractively priced, and I bet a lot of gamers picked StarDrone up at some point for this reason. I know I did on my Vita, and I’ve enjoyed playing it from time to time.
Others may remember StarDrone from its relatively successful days as a flash-based game as well, and I’m bringing StarDrone’s roots up for a reason. This is a straightforward physics-based arcade puzzler on the casual end of the spectrum, as such falling into the same genre as games like Angry Birds – though not quite that much of a cult classic. The closest relative I can probably think of is far more obscure – the PS3 game Rotastic.
StarDrone’s control scheme is easy, and that hasn’t changed in VR. Essentially a one button game, you hook onto certain elements in a level in order to gain (or lose) momentum and swing around the level, collecting (pieces of) stars along the way. Do this quickly, and you’ll gain additional rewards for the trophy hunter inside you. For all of StarDrone VR’s 60 or so levels, that’s pretty much it – though level layouts get more complex as you progress. It’s essentially the same game we’ve seen before, but now playable in VR.
Although elements of the game are rendered in 3D, the action takes place on a 2D plane and thus the VR component feels a tad unnecessary – a bit like the earlier PSVR game Nebulous made me feel. That in no way makes StarDrone a bad game – it just makes it a game that makes very limited use of VR. Besides being able to look at the action in several directions, the only real use for your VR headset is the ability to point to anchor points in the level by using head tracking.
With such a simple basic gameplay formula, this is a love it or hate it kind of game. Luckily for me, I tend to enjoy games like this a lot – though I mostly play them on my Vita when I have a few minutes to spare. On Playstation VR, this is the kind of game I’ll play for a bit when I’m done with some kind of big VR title and need some time to wind down. It’s casual enough to not play for ages and then pick right up, even though Beatshapers makes sure they introduce new elements into the mix here and there to keep things a little more interesting over the course of sixty levels. For instance, later levels will require you to pick up a key before heading into a direction that was closed at the start of the level.
A stellar VR title you’ll want to pick up to show off to your friends? Probably not, but I found StarDrone VR to be fun little diversion for the platform – and it’s helped by the fact that it’s one of those rare PSVR titles that is available for a budget price right at launch.