Starsceptre Review (iOS)

Developer: 8BitMagicGames

Platform: iOS (iPhone, iPad)

Price: $1.99 (App Store)

Updated 17.08.2017

In our original review of Starsceptre, there were some issues with certain aspects of the game. The developer has now released a big update, dealing with all of these issues. Looking at the new product, we feel that an updated review is needed.

One of the more important updates that Starsceptre recieved was the change to the shooting-mechanic. Autofire is now implemented, and it is oh, so beautiful. Our thumbs are saved from carpal tunnel and cramps because of the incessant tapping on the screen. It is also possible to toggle the autofire on and off if you so wish.

Another crucial change was made to the cutscenes, where the game would skip them after each level – making us lose a big part of the story. Now, they are coming right on queue after the levels are completed. There has also been an addition to the main menu where each cutscene has been made available – so you can watch the whole story in one go. Pretty neat!

As minor improvements go, we really like the additions to the main menu. Along with the availability of the cutscenes, the settings button is a very valued one in our book. Here, you can toggle the autofire, as well as adding or removing scanlines. Even though it’s minor, they really come in handy.

The game might not be perfect, but it has definitely made some great improvements. Considering the one-man business behind this product, it is definitely something to be proud of. We have decided to up the score to a 4/5 as a result of these changes.

Original review:

Starsceptre is a retro Shoot ’em up game by Richard Morgan, the man behind 8BitMagicGames. It was made solely on a programming app on the iPad, when Morgan was commuting to and from work. Seeing the result then, consider me impressed.

The story is simple – an evil race named Draxses is conquering planets, robbing them of their resources and enslaving their occupants. The Starsceptre is the only thing that can stop them, and with the help of Onalee, “the chosen one” to wield the Starsceptre, and Ensign Rook, the pilot of your spaceship, we must battle our way through the galaxy to defeat the Draxses.

back in time.png
“My game is all about skill and luck,” says Richard Morgan, “and as a gamer through and through I want people to win games on how well they play, not how deep their pockets might be.”

The twist in this game is that you don’t use traditional controls. To shoot, you have to tap the screen repeatedly, either with one or both hands. In order to move the ship, you have to move your device (in this case, my iPad) by tilting it to the respective side. Tilting the iPad towards you makes the ship loop backwards, and comes in handy for dodging – several boss fights require that you use this mechanic. Even though it takes a few minutes getting used to, one quickly adapts and it suddenly feels like a very natural way of playing.

The way the game is designed creates a highly immersive style of gameplay. However, even though the controls work well, they are perhaps too sensitive at times. The spaceship would flip repeatedly even though I did not order it to do so, which would ruin the flow of the game.

The game looks awesome by the way – it truly feels like you are in an 80s or 90s arcade game, and the music definitely fulfils this feeling. Starsceptre is by no means simple – easy to play yes, yet very hard to master. At the end of each level, there is a boss fight which requires certain tactics to defeat.

According to the developer’s home page, the game is being referred to as a “Tilt and Shoot” type of game, introducing a new hashtag: #tiltnshmup. Yeah, it’s got a nice ring to it.

Tilt ‘n’ Schmoop!

I don’t think the developer spent much time on the voice-acting and dialogue, which was not good. At all. Luckily, this isn’t a big part of the game, because the dialogue would often get so cringe-worthy that I found it hilarious instead (maybe that was the idea?). I also encountered some trouble launching the cutscenes, where the game would just skip them, leaving me empty-handed storywise.

“Infinite chances to save the galaxy,” is the catch-phrase of the game, and for good reason: there is no game over. If you die, the Starsceptre will rewind time so you can give it another go. This function works really well with the flow of the game.

The game also receives both thumbs up from me because there are no microtransactions at all, “offering the full game for a one-off cost of less than a cup of coffee. All updates and all updates will be for free.” In other words, what you pay is what you get, and that sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

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