Switch version tested
Review code provided
Stellar Interface is Imagination Overflow’s introductory game to the Nintendo Switch console with an attractive thumbnail that is sure to gain the attention of those in the eShop. It is a 2D left to right shmup that has very attractive SNES/Geni graphics and a ton of custom options to choose from. You should know now how much I love shoot ’em ups, let’s dig right in.
Difficulty and controller button layout can be adjusted on the main screen. The title screen is alive with movement and gives a glimpse of the wonderful graphics you will see in-game. There is a screen by screen guide for the game that will explain how to play and describe mechanics used, so much to explore! A ton of options to unlock and customize. Stellar Net is a menu that will explain all of your achievements.
Gameplay is similar to the title screen with a lot of enemies flying at you from all directions. The kamikaze ships were the first interesting enemy to come across, they don’t stop circling until you defeat them or explode into you. Beginning levels are a bit short but paired with the amount of enemies encountered in that short time, it’s very fitting. Each level defeated will unlock new software to which you can upgrade your ship. I chose to stick with the same options if possible to get the best boost out of them (health increase for example).
Initial ship movement is slow (which is a huge pet peeve of mine) BUT Stellar Interface knows that, and allows the player to increase ship speed in time. Since enemies will attack in any direction each move must be calculated based on enemy distance and the time between shots fired. The bar on the top right of the screen shows level progress, which is lovely to see. Health bar is on the top left of the screen. If you die, you will be given the option to retry or exit to the main menu. After the first game over I decided to try the second option for starter ships which has less ram (weapon capacity) but higher mobility (ship speed). I love that options are crossed out that can no longer be chosen due to the amount of ram remaining.
This is not just a sway up-and-down shooter that you can lazily make your way through, it’s like a beehive in these levels. There is a lot going on and you have to be aware of your surroundings, like Batman. I threw in that joke because there are references to see such as a Pokemon nod in this game. Choose your options and upgrades wisely. The second option for ships worked better for my play style even though I thought the first option was better suiting. Try new things that take you out of your comfort zone and you’ll be surprised how well they can turn out.
Stellar Interface has taken some elements that typically would not work well for me in a shooter, but given the awesome graphics and custom options to choose? It has opened me up to new things that I now enjoy. Slow ship? Upgrade it. Bullets too slow? Upgrade it. Level too difficult? Choose another route on the map with a lower threat percentage. Button layout terrible? Change it. Although I have to say, default shot is paired to ZL which is actually awesome.
I like that there are achievements to unlock in addition to the missions. It gives more than one focus to hone in on, and adds depth to the game. Stellar Interface is a rogue-like game that will give you a slightly different play each run. No need to memorize enemy entrance points. Each software you unlock and choose after every level will be different. Find what upgrades best suit your playing style to reach the furthest point.
The music is perfectly fitting to the arcade style of play – loud and hectic. That can also be my two-word review of this game. Each play through the length of the levels seems more and more fitting. The game grows on you that way. I started the game in docked mode but I think it shines in handheld mode. It feels more natural that way. Endless mode can be unlocked by completing a run. I mentioned early stages being quick, but it’s based on how quickly you defeat the enemies to progress the level bar, and/or as quickly as the game allows the enemies to appear. A decent mixture of both if that makes sense.
I completed a run and found that there were no obstacles to avoid besides bombs that are set into the stage. Shoot the bombs to get rid of them. It would have been cool add oncoming things to avoid to change it up, such as buildings and terrain in other shmups. The background is cool and distracting to add challenge to the game but it lacked in level design in that area. The upgrades unlocked between levels don’t always explain their purpose so it feels like a blind choice at times. The option to choose which level to avoid or take on is nice, skilled players can complete a run quicker and others can take their time and gather upgrades.
The rogue-like elements pair perfectly with it being a shmup. This adds a great tier to the category and makes it an even more interesting pick-up-and-play game. There is a ton to unlock as shown on the main menu and will bring you back for more. It’s fun and I recommend it to others.
TBG Score: 7/10
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: Jan 11, 2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Shmup, Arcade
Download link: eShop