Last year’s Wii U indie game ‘Star Ghost’ has been re-released on the Nintendo Switch. The game, developed by Squarehead Studios, was originally created as an iOS-app and was successful enough to convince the dev team to port it over to the console market. While the game is solid, it doesn’t offer anything special to hook new players in.
Star Ghost plays somewhat like a classic shoot-em-up game but controls a little differently. Instead of controlling your ship directly with the analog sticks or d-pad, you simply have to press the ‘A’ button to thrust it upwards. If you don’t press the button in time, your ship will hit the bottom of the screen which results in losing your score-multiplier and eventually in a game over if you remain at the bottom for too long. Think of it as the way you played Flappy Bird, but less frustrating. While controlling your ship you also have to shoot down any hostile spaceships that are coming your way. Your ship automatically fires whenever there’s an enemy around, but it does not aim. This has to be done manually by controlling the analog stick and getting your ship on the same level as the enemy. Thrusting your ship upwards while aiming is surprisingly challenging at first, but after a couple of levels, you’ll get the hang of it.
The level design in Star Ghost is mostly randomized, with the exception that they follow a pattern. For example, the fourth level features some narrow paths that are a little more difficult to guide your ship through. The paths in the fourth level are always narrow, but the way they are shaped is always different. This makes the game less repetitive when you die or choose to restart a level. It also looks pretty with its colorful and minimalistic design that makes replaying the same level again less of an issue.
While playing through the levels, you’ll notice that some destroyed enemies leave behind orbs. These orbs are upgrades for your ship and are important to defeat stronger enemies. They vary from a faster rate of fire to health boosts. These upgrades are also temporary, meaning that after a while they’ll disappear and weaken your ship. That’s why it’s best to pick up any upgrade when you have the chance. There are also orbs that look like upgrades but are actually viruses. Picking up a virus will disable your weapons and make you more vulnerable to enemy attacks. You can still move your ship though, so dealing with a virus is not that hard.
While the gameplay in Star Ghost is solid and fairly easy to pick up, it doesn’t offer anything new or any changes when compared to the Wii U version. It’s also pretty obvious that game was originally designed as an iOS-app. You fly through some levels while destroying enemies with limited controls, that’s it. This game design makes it hard to still enjoy it after the first hour or so since it’s repetitive and quickly becomes nothing more than a grind for a higher score. There’s nothing wrong with these kinds of games, per se, but they’re not easy to recommend to most console players.
Star Ghost offers some colorful visuals and solid gameplay, although the latter is a little shallow. There’s no doubt that some people will enjoy this game, but I think that most of the others won’t find anything of value in this. It’s also a shame that this version is exactly the same as the Wii U version, so there’s no reason for fans of that version to buy it again for the Switch.