Chorus Worldwide and 1CC Games present Star Hunter DX, a side-scrolling shmup with beautifully vibrant artwork and gameplay. Available on the Nintendo eShop from August 5th for $14.99/£10.99, this shoot ’em up was a featured game at the London Games Festival in early 2021 – which showcased footage of an arcade version of the game in The Heart of Gaming! You can watch that video of the developers talking below:
Now let’s get into it ourselves!
The 80s vibe is present and visually beautiful from the start, with character references from the time period as well. Neon purple, blue, and pink colours paint characters, ships, and shots that give great contrast to the moving backgrounds. I love that the backgrounds move and change with each stage, providing a different feel with the variety of music! Speaking of the tunes, they vary from upbeat, to hauntingly chill and match the levels and vibes perfectly. My favourite level moves underwater and introduces a different type of torpedo bullet shot from submarines! Variety is present here and I’m here for it.
Star Hunter DX begins with an option of “how to play” mode to learn mechanics and basics, which I will go over soon. Practice mode allows the player to choose specific stages previously unlocked, the main area vs the boss, as well as adjusting bombs, charge, bullet time, multiplier, and power level. Although there is no save state option to revert to for specific choke areas this is the best thing a player could ask for.
Leader of the pack
One character is available from the start and two that need to be unlocked. Each have their own story to tell, with different shot types to allow for yet another layer of variety, in addition to the three levels of difficulty. Luna Starr is our first character, the leader of a space pirate crew called The Vipers. Sadly, she was betrayed by her crew for the love of gold and now embarks on a quest for revenge! Some awesome artwork and quick story follow before we are off on our adventure! The way 1CC Games did a quick backstory and dropped the player right into the mix is satisfying and done in a way that caused me to compliment it immediately in my first look.
THAT is how it’s done in shmups!
Fire the rapid shot to move at normal speed and shoot the laser to slow down. I suggest using the bomb as frequently as needed because when the player grazes nearby enemies or shots, it recharges the bomb stock. I’m guilty of bomb hoarding or forgetting about them entirely which has shown to be unfortunate.
Star Hunter DX has a bullet-time mechanic that is used to slow down the incoming enemy fire. This is achieved by collecting cubes, dropped by foes, to fill the meter surrounding each character’s ship. While in bullet-time mode the player’s character will move freely as enemies and their fire slow down. It’s imperative to destroy enemies in this mode to capitalise on that score as their bullets turn into cubes to be collected. Continue firing away at the enemy to fill the multiplier for the highest scores achievable. Don’t forget to collect the lost astronauts floating about the cosmos, I’ve found that after levels are memorised they can be collected with good timing to continue bullet time.
Utilising the bullet-time mechanic at the correct moment is pure satisfaction. Allow the screen to fill up with bullets with it activated then destroy every enemy in sight to change purple cubes into golden cubes with a lovely sound effect and massive score boost! Try to keep the score multiplier high to increase the size of the golden cubes! I’m telling you, this portion of the game brings me so much joy.
Bullets and patterns change so much it’s worth mentioning on its own. As always, this will differ based on the difficulty chosen but will be enjoyed all the same. Pink bullets vary in shape, speed, and formation. They may be peppered from each enemy individually or sprayed out in circular form with other shots sprinkled in from different directions. I often use bullet-time, or the laser, to slow down gameplay enough to get a better visual of what’s happening. Also use a bomb if needed to clear some space, and enjoy the puzzle of movements required to survive! I love finagling my way through the barrage successfully, especially in later levels when these bouncing diamond patterns paint the screen and constantly move about.
BOSS BATTLES are set in their own area that the player must fly into at stage end. Dialogue with each boss changes as their stories differ, asking the player to beat the game with each. I love the artwork involved with this and love that the developers want the player to master their game. Overall it is not the most beginner-friendly shmup so I won’t say it’s approachable to those just starting off, but I’m usually not talking to that audience so everyone else will find good fun and challenge on easy mode. Pick your favourite character and aim for that 1CC! The love this team put into their game is built into their brand, 1CC Games. They want the players to have such a challenge that it makes them work for that 1CC! I love that. Watch for the boss health meters on the left or right side of the screen, a first for this kind of feature I’ve seen! End of stage enemies are large ships that require a bit of shooting to remove their armour before pulling off some real damage. Match their health with the timing of bullet-time and fill your screen with golden cubes! Players will be rewarded with a silly picture of the boss in a mugshot frame.
The only issue I had with this game is one that is waiting for Nintendo to approve the patch. At times when there is too much going on screen, or your play time has exceeded an unknown amount of time, the game begins to have frame rate issues. I was given this warning beforehand and only ran into it after playing for a few hours. To my luck, a different developer was watching my stream and suggested exiting the game and restarting, which worked! I’m confident the patch will resolve the problems whenever Nintendo approves it but the restart (actually exciting and closing the game) worked for me so I hope it works for others in the meantime.
I have reviewed other games that never mentioned bugs, even some that killed the game entirely, and I never saw their resolution. 1CC Games has a fix in place and is patiently waiting for approval.
Although I just mentioned a problem with the game I have loved my time spent with Star Hunter DX and will put many more hours into it. The fix will resolve framerate issues and all will be well. The game felt like a breath of fresh air in the world of shmups and the bullet-time mechanic was incredibly satisfying. Vibrant colours, jamming tunes, satisfying shots, great controls, high replayability, need I say more? I love this game and would recommend it to others, thank you so much for the opportunity to play!
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo
Release Date: 05/08/2021
No. of Players: 1
Category: Shooter, Action, Arcade
Developer: 1CC Games
Publisher: Chorus Worldwide Games
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop