Saturday, September 17, 2016

AA Look - Final Star Force

Okay so this game, Final Star Force, I don't understand the deal with it. Things just sort of happen, and then it ends. Usually I use the intro part of the review to ask inane questions such as: "If this is the Final Star Force, then where's the First or Second Star Force?" Instead, I simply don't care. This is a nonsense shmup. There are several stages, each capped with a boss, but it's not their bullets that kill you, it's the stupidity of it all.

Death is just a much a part of STGs as yin is to yang. Before you succeed, you have to fail, sometimes constantly. With enough persistence and skill, you reach beyond your limits, and achieve greatness. Final Star Force is a really easy game, so clearing it isn't satisfying. However, you're still guaranteed to die several times, just because of ridiculous crap.

First off, let's look at dodging. Normally it's an essential tool in order to survive 2D shooters. In Final Star Force, it's kind-of helpful, but you're probably better off just throwing out a bomb. Even something as simple as a five-bullet "wave" pattern is cause for alarm. If you focus on dodging, you might collide into another enemy. Besides, this game doles bombs out at a constant rate. It's so ridiculous that if I play another shmup after this game, I toss around bombs like I'm expecting to get more within the next second. Granted, you get points for grabbing them, when you have a full-stock, but you won't miss a mere 2000 points.

Enemies appear in standard formations, and generally don't change too much, over the course of the game. It's a good idea to memorize their behavior - a better idea is to ignore this game entirely - and focus on destroying them quickly. However, it's much more of a hassle to memorize what enemies appear when. Typically what happens is that you don't know what to expect, so you get blindsided by an enemy appearing from the corners. Even your awesome weapons can miss one or two tiny enemies.

Recovering from a death isn't too bad, in terms of the actual game. The default cannon (which you should almost never have) is awful, and its bomb isn't much good outside of escaping bad situations, but you can get a power-up after a brief moment. However, you as a person are less likely to recover, simply because the death was to something dumb. I don't know whether it can be attributed to the massive slowdown during bosses, auto-fire, or the weather in Ohio, but this game will eat your bomb inputs. I've had to button-mash just to guarantee the bomb will come out, and it's frustrating as all hell.

The difficulty of this game is very inconsistent. A lot can go wrong over the course of each stage, thanks to a combination of fast moving enemies, and their hard to gauge appearances. The bosses on the other hand are large, slow, cause absurd amounts of slowdown, and can be pitifully easy, or completely dumb. The third-to-last boss has a first "form" where four large foes drown the screen in bullets. If you don't have a couple bombs here, you're probably doomed. However, the second "form" of this boss is probably easier than the first boss. The second-to-last boss does nothing but fire a huge circle of bullets every few seconds. The final boss is a laugh, as long as you don't get trapped by its fire. There's another boss (I forget which), that drops its bottom half after being dealt so much damage, this can kill.

When you die in this game, you're probably not going to think "I've got to do better." You'll probably just think (or yell) "Bullshit!" That's how this game beats you. It can't really do it with enemies or bullets, so it sits and waits for opportunities. All Final Star Force needs is 3-5 moments to dick you over, and then it wins. I wouldn't bother with giving it the satisfaction.

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