29th Dec2017

Digital Shorts: ‘Star Ghost’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Matthew Smail

In DIGITAL SHORTS we review some of the latest video games that are only available digitally (at least in the UK), in a short-form review format. In this edition we take a look at Star Ghost, another new shmup hitting the Nintendo Switch.

Star-Ghost-Screenshot-1

Star Ghost is just one of many new games to join the rapidly expanding collection of shooters to grace the Nintendo Switch, but with each new addition to the genre, it becomes more and more challenging for individual games to stand out. I’ve played Star Ghost quite comprehensively for the past week or so throughout the Christmas period, so I feel confident that I’m in a stellar position to talk you through what it has to offer.

Firstly, Star Ghost is primarily an auto-scrolling, left-to-right shooter, which is a fairly rare style in its own right. Secondly, the propulsion system in Star Ghost is quite unique, with the vertical movement controlled by tapping the thrust button (more thrust equates to rapid upwards movement, whilst light taps result in a kind of hovering.) Shooting is taken care of automatically by the game, so the real challenge is in thrusting appropriately to line the ship up with enemies whilst dodging scenery, bullets and so on.

My first concern was that this thrust system was a bit of a gimmick. An artificial throwback to old school mechanical control that has long since been surpassed, artificially included here just to increase the difficulty level. Sadly, whilst I concluded that the control scheme rarely results in frustrating death, it certainly doesn’t enhance the experience any – why not just allow players to use a stick?

On the other hand, Star Ghost looks and sounds quite good, offering a nicely stylised experience that presents brightly lit enemies overlaid against largely black backgrounds. Colourful scenery is introduced fairly early on in the form of highly angular mountain ranges and caves which are easily recognised as such. Unlike classic side-scrollers like R-Type however, Star Ghost never introduces much new or interesting – there are no characterful bosses, for example and the stylised scenery never offers a sense of diversity.

So in the end, whilst I found Star Ghost to be more or less fine, I can probably recommend about ten Nintendo Switch shooters much more highly. Transcripted, for example, is very similar but better in almost every way – from its story to the way it looks and plays, or Gunbird, the classic remake. There’s nothing wrong with Star Ghost except that it happens to have entered the most tightly contested market in videogames right now. Grab it if you like, but only once you’ve played some of its better peers.

*** 3/5

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