02nd Mar2021

‘Zotrix Starglider’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Alain Elliott

I have been an avid gamer for pretty much as long as I can remember. My first console the ZX Spectrum, the loading noises I remember almost as much as the games, and from then on it has almost entirely (the odd Sega Master System and Playstation an exception) been Nintendo. But it’s perhaps apt that my first ever video game review is of Zotrix Starglider, a game that is heavily inspired by the era I grew up in, the eighties.

Despite being a genre that was highly popular in the eighties – a golden age for them – shoot-em-ups are not a type of game I have played much of. Not because I don’t like them, it was generally because I wasn’t that great at them. Memorising movements and having quick-fire reactions aren’t in my video game skill set. It was clearly about time I got practicing.

Like the games it is inspired by, Zotrix Starglider is, on the face of things, a simple game. In the one-player game, you control a spacecraft and have many other spacecraft try to attack you from various angles. Comprising of ten different levels, each level sees you attempt to survive three ‘waves’ of attack that increase in difficulty each time. You gain achievements in the form of medals for certain things you do and once you conquer level five you will get the option of a new and improved spacecraft when you start the game again. Each level after and you will gain another spacecraft.

Initially, I found Zotrix Starglider super-difficult but I soon discovered this was mainly because of my lack of experience with shoot-em-ups. Getting to the halfway point of level five in single-player mode seemed like a near-impossible task. But this game is addictive and I just kept plugging away, memorising those enemy attacks and learning the best position to be on screen for each wave. Getting past that halfway mark seemed like a major achievement and that is when the end of level ‘bosses’ enter. But they don’t offer up too much resistance, they just take longer to destroy but are not actually much more difficult. And in truth, it didn’t take me too long to complete the game once I’d reached the second half of it. More seasoned gamers would finish this much sooner and the game is, therefore, a pretty short one – the price does of course reflect this.

There are reasons to go back to it though. Getting each achievement ‘medal’ is not easy and simply beating your own high score is enough for some to keep coming back. I took great delight in being on the online leaderboard (number seven at the time of writing) and I’m sure others will love battling out for the top spot.

There is also a two-player co-op mode which is a little different. Much easier to begin with because the guns are automatically fired and you kind of aim your way through the levels. A cool aspect of this mode is when the two spacecraft come together they do create a sort of super gunfire, again making it easier. A less challenging and a little less enjoyable part of the game but there’s still fun to be had with it.

The other great feature of the game I have yet to mention is the music. A nicely matched eighties-style synthwave score that, if you’re anything like me, will be turned up much louder than the sound effects (this is an option in the settings).

Shoot-em-up fanatics might find Zotrix Starglider a little on the easy side so maybe it’s best for newcomers to the genre to give it a go. You won’t be disappointed as this is a colourful eighties throwback that is perfectly suited to short blasts on the Switch.

*** 3/5

Zotrix Starglider is available on the Nintendo eShop now.

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