Platformers have become a tired genre. Gamers have been playing them for twenty-five years, and there really isn’t much that can surprise us. It’s all about iteration, personality and polish, and that’s boring. The Legendary Starfy, though, supplies the genre some much-needed lighthearted fun.
Tose is no stranger to making games, though you may not have heard of them. They’ve been doing work for major companies as a “ghost-developer” of sorts for years, and did the entire development of recent DS sleeper hits like Super Princess Peach and Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime. In recent years, Tose decided to put their name on just one series, and it was this one. The Legendary Starfy is actually the fifth game in the series, but the first to be released outside Japan.
In the game you play as Starfy, a “legendary creature” that looks a heck of a lot like a starfish. In the water, he’s a force to be reckoned with, performing spin dashes and moving like a flash. These areas are about speed and puzzle-solving, and feel like a cross between the underwater Mario levels and your standard Kirby stage. On land, though, Starfy is a limited creature with a modest jump, trying simply to navigate the area without falling. The dichotomy brings with it a much-needed variety. On top of that, there are Yoshi’s Island-style sequences where Starfy uses a “helper” to transform, moving in different ways and attacking differently as well.
The story is akin to a children’s show, with friendly characters saying simple things. It has charm, to be sure, but it’s not really a compelling reason to play. The graphics match the story: very bright and saccharine. The music? Yep, peppy and childlike. Of course, it’s a platformer, so the gameplay’s paramount. Here’s where the game shines. It’s inexplicably fun. It’s not particularly tough or challenging, but I challenge anyone to play it without smiling. Not only that, but there’s real replay value in finding secret areas. These places are simple, but usually interesting, and finding 100% of the areas is a true accomplishment.
There are extras, but you should probably ignore them. You can dress Starfy up in costumes, but it only shows up in the menu. There are stretches of levels you can play with a partner, but they’re short and disjointed, and it takes too much effort to make it worth it.
Is it a bit childish? Sure. Make sure to buy it for your kid, your cousin or your little brother. Then see if you can borrow it.
ESRB: E–Kid-friendly. Heck, just friendly.
Pros: Fun platforming action, variety.
Cons: Anyone will remember Mario and Yoshi and that they trump this