Shooting Stars – Review

Title   Shooting Stars
Developer  Blood Irony
Publisher  Daedalic Entertainment
Platform  Windows PC, iOS, Android
Genre  Arcade, Shoot 'em up
Release Date  January 19th, 2016

shootingstarsrev1Readers of a certain age may remember Shooting Stars, featuring the venerable Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. Any game featuring the dove from above, Jonny Vegas drinking Guiness, George Dawes keeping the scores and a variety of nonplussed celebrity guests can only be a certain hit in my mind. Unfortunately, this is not a game about that Shooting Stars. Oh. What we actually have here is a ‘shmup’ ported across from mobile land. Presented with faux-retro pixel graphics, all the neon colours on the Spectrum and replete with an infinitely looping 8-bit chip tune soundtrack (can two tunes be called a soundtrack? Too late now), Shooting Stars ticks all of the boxes needed to sit near the top of the mobile game charts. As a mobile game, it probably deserves its place heading charts; as a PC game… not so much.

What we have here is a digital equivalent of a teenage hipster. It tries oh so hard to be original, but merely succeeds in feeling incredibly generic and samey. Waves of pixelated baddies move towards you, sometimes shooting lasers or rockets, while you blast them away with an upgradeable laser attack, and randomly picked up special move. Defeat enough baddies and the boss appears; defeat the boss and new waves appear, leading to a new boss. Kill that boss and… well, come on. You get it.


The selling point, which I use in the loosest sense of the term, is that you are killing baddies from the world of pop culture. Well, actually you’re killing 8-bit parodies of them, but potay-toe potah-toe, right? The parodies are worth the briefest of smirks; appearances from Kanye East, Justin Belieber, Daft Phunk and many more borderline libellous boss characters give you some insight into the level of wit on show. Speaking of wit, you control a hipster douche on a hoverboard and fire lasers out of a cat’s eyes. Yep. That’s actually what happens. The whole ‘comedy’ of the game seems to be based on memes from three or four years ago that I still don’t understand now because I’m old and grumpy, and just shouting at a webcam isn’t actually broadcasting and movie remakes are just awful and music peaked in the 90s and oh my God I need to be quiet now.

shootingstarsrev3Quite apart from the ‘swing and a miss’ aesthetic of the game, as an experience it’s dull, shallow and just a bit unfair. There’s no sense that you’re really affecting the success or otherwise of a run; if the game deigns to bestow laser upgrades and passive boosters upon you (in the form of burgers, cakes and fruits that require you to dig in to the pause menu to devine the effects of), then you might have a decent chance of ‘completing’ the game – that is making it through enough waves to kill six bosses. However, these upgrades are almost completely random. There’s absolutely no consistency between runs as to what you might expect to drop.

There is the option to use rechargeable super weapons but, once again, these are random drops and the effectiveness of these is laughably diverse. Some, such as the rainbow laser power, will faceroll enemies and bosses alike. Others might shoot out lasers in a spiral or some other weird formation and are almost completely useless. It really is luck of the draw stuff – there’s no strategy at all.


My real problem is this – as a PC game, what is the target audience? The pre-teens that are most likely to find it hilarious that you can kill a pixellated not Pewdie-Pie are going to play this on mobile. Anyone looking for a serious shooting experience has several superior options; indie-darling Downwell is also available on Steam for a whole English pound less than Shooting Stars. There is no conceivable world in which you wouldn’t play Downwell over this. Anyone wanting to waste five or ten minutes has Super Meat Boy, Hotline Miami and countless other vastly superior quick-to-play games on hand. Call me an old stick in the mud, but I just don’t see the point of this game being on PC. Games that are fun for a five-minute burst on a mobile are a completely different beast to something that can entertain in a more sit-down gaming scenario.

  • Simple to play
  • Um… it loads quickly?
  • Someone probably isn’t sick of retro faux-8-bit pixel graphics by now
  • Shallow and repetitive
  • Two horrible chiptune tracks that bore in to your mind and drive you insane
  • No Vic and Bob as bosses. Come on now, that’s an opportunity missed

Another case of a decent mobile title that has no business being released as full PC title. Lacking in substance, widely missing the mark with its supposed comedy stylings and being simply boring to play for more than a couple of minutes, this is one to avoid. Uvavu.

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