Earlier this year, developers Beatshapers and TastyPlay released an arcade action-pinball game for the PSN called StarDrone. Beatshapers had the opportunity to show off StarDrone to attendees at IndieCade 2011 this year, where passersby could try out the game's PlayStation Move controls. Not only did I get a chance to go hands-on with the game and talk to Beatshapers' Alexey Menshikov, but I also got my hands on a special surprise.
The central idea of StarDrone is to control a starship drone across a pinball-style space environment, collecting items like stars, in order to proceed to the next area. The IndieCade build featured the PlayStation Move controller and the controls were very simple to grasp. Using the PS Move controller, the player must point and click at various beacon units in order to tether the ship to the hub and slingshot it in the right direction.
Having played a round of StarDrone in the past with a standard controller, I can say that the PlayStation Move controls were a breath of fresh air. Pointing at the beacons felt a lot more intuitive and movement was made significantly easier. The levels on display allowed for me to play around with the world and bounce off of walls repeatedly, as I explored the colorful outer space surroundings.
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Then came a special surprise. After trying out the PSN version, Menshikov brought me over to a remote corner and pulled out a PlayStation Vita. He had brought over a copy of the upcoming StarDrone Extreme, which is set to be a launch title for the new Sony handheld. StarDrone Extreme plays much like its console brethren, with players able to tether their ship to nearby hubs using both the front touch panel and the rear touch panel. The touch panel controls, particularly the panel in the back, had a couple of response issues, but nothing that overtly detracted from the experience.
Menshikov promises some new features for the Vita-exclusive StarDrone Extreme. "Right now, for PlayStation Vita, we will have exclusive levels," said Menshikov. "The Vita version will have a new menu and different level unlock system. While some levels are taken from the PlayStation 3 version, we will have exclusive content — new levels, new music, new art, and maybe new enemies." As I played through both StarDrone and StarDrone Extreme, Menshikov also told me that the challenge level for StarDrone Extreme will likely see an increase from its console version. Menshikov said that several of the game’s new levels would include more spikes, leaving less of a margin for error.
StarDrone is available now as a PSN title. Look for StarDrone Extreme to launch alongside the PS Vita in February.