Stardash, a speedrun-based platformer from OrangePixel, is now available from the app store. Utilizing a style that more closely resembles Super Mario Land for the OG Gameboy and pretty tight controls to match, Stardash is a fiendishly fun offering that has the bite to back up its bark.
- Terrific retro graphics that evoke OG Gameboy memories
- Catchy chiptune soundtracks
- Tight controls with large buttons
- Speedrun and star collection goals to complete
- GameCenter and OpenFeint integration for global leaderboards and achievements
- Steep difficulty can be turn off for some players
- Touchscreen controls don’t give great feedback
Stardash follows in the footsteps of League of Evil and Mos Speedrun, challenging the gamer to make a beeline for the level exit as quickly and efficiently as possible. Most of the 40 levels shouldn’t last longer than a commercial break, and the additional challenge of collecting all coins in each level to earn a star gives the game a modicum of replayability. The side-scrolling action sees you avoiding, or bouncing on the heads of, a small variety of enemies who always seem to be positioned to bump into you as you leap from platform to platform, forcing you to slow up or go for it with no room to spare. Blazing a trail to the finish can be quite the chore, though snagging the coins isn’t too difficult. You’ll also be able to seek out hidden areas that contain temple keys, too, which unlock the final level in each of the four worlds.
The game’s graphic style harkens back to the days of chunky, green-screened Gameboys, with a similar, asbeit more blown up, look to it. Many of the elements, from the steps to the cannonballs and even several of the enemies, are clearly inspired by the plumber’s great adventure. The chiptune soundtracks have an equally retro feel, matching up well with the visuals. The controls are tight and simple to use, offering left, right, and jump buttons for movement, but lacking the run and fire options that you might expect. A timer counts down you time left to earn the dash star, and a coin counter lets you know how close you are to finding all of the level’s loot.
Replay value is good, as you’ll undoubtedly need several attempts to achieve both goals on each level. GameCenter and OpenFeint integration brings player rankings and achievements to earn. Despite its grueling difficulty and unforgiving timer, Stardash is ultimately a fun, $1.99 4-Dimple test.