October 3, 2021

A Shooting Star - Star Hunter DX (Steam) Review

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What are the odds that a developer would be tempted to craft a game so beloved as R-Type and Gradius in this day in age? I would surmise, however, that Star Hunter DX was created to anchor the gameplay in a genre rich in culture and yet argue for more design flexibility in place of rigid tradition. That’s the likely premise of Star Hunter DX and on its own merits, it does a very good job.

Indie developer, 1CC Games, was wise to expand on the universe of the bullet-hell genre, which takes place exactly as you would imagine: in space with almost anything and everything hell-bent on taking you out. The clever idea behind the game is that it pays homage to the shooters of the 16 & 32-bit eras while adding its own unique twist. In other words, it is all retro-inspired, addicting, and challenging.

On the surface, the game might not look different, but it does have a lot of things going on in a larger more dramatic scale. The graphical effects when filling up the screen, for example, is to deceive the eyes, not insult them.

Though Star Hunter DX may look easy due to its simple graphics and level design, in theory, it does take some skill and quick reflexes to be successful. Taking my impressions straight from the first four or five levels, I often wondered why 1CC Games just didn't make a true sequel to R-Type or Gradius. Then it struck me that doing so would be too gimmicky and probably be of no fun. Instead, they took the addictive gameplay of those two classics and combined it with their own unique gameplay elements, visuals, and soundtrack.

The back story has you taking the role of Luna, a space pirate seeking vengeance on her former crew after they turn on her leaving her to fend for herself. Despite its simple story, there's some style on display here. While the familiar gameplay scrolls from left to right, there are glimmers of well-orchestrated level design that I did appreciate.

Blasting away at enemy ships allows you to go into bullet-time where the enemy projectiles slow down and turn into gold gems while your ship maintains its speed and momentum. But deciding whether to go into bullet-time or face the onslaught of enemy fire to accrue massive amounts of points is something you'll need to decide on and choreograph. On that note, regardless of how you want to play, be prepared for what's to come as Star Hunter DX is as tough and challenging as they come.

I would surmise, however, that Star Hunter DX was created to anchor the gameplay in a genre rich in culture and yet argue for more design flexibility in place of rigid tradition. That’s the likely premise of Star Hunter DX and on its own merits, it does a very good job.

While the game often bordered on insanity (imagine being in the center of the screen with enemy missiles, lasers, and bombs all around you), it did manage to pique my interest enough to write my thoughts on it.

On the surface, the game might not look different, but it does have a lot of things going on in a larger more dramatic scale. The graphical effects when filling up the screen, for example, is to deceive the eyes, not insult them.

It's admirable that a developer would offer such nostalgic ambiguity in their game that it makes the experience genuinely good-hearted; and because of these good-hearted attempts, I'm more than willing to follow this talented team on their creative journey. Grab a copy of Star Hunter DX when you can. It won't disappoint.

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