Game Info:

Super Star Path
Developed By: DYA Games
Published By: DYA Games
Released: June 22, 2015
Available On: Steam
Genre: Shoot-Em-Up (“shmup”)
ESRB Rating: N/A
Number of Players: 1 offline
Price: $1.99

What’s one thing you take for granted in a shoot-em-up (shmup) style of game? Never. Stop. Firing. The ever-flowing avalanche of enemies requires you to hold down the A button for every level’s duration. There’s never a reason to let go of the button besides momentary muscle relief.

Super Star Path turns that logic on its head.

Every shot in DYA’s short, indie title literally does count. As in the old classic, Bubble Blast, and its innumerable variants, you fire at randomly-placed targets that detonate same-colored enemies that sit adjacent to it. The twist is, at the end of the line, when the color of enemies changes, surrounding targets crystallize permanently. No number of shots, no force in the galaxy, can destroy, let alone move, these frozen obstacles. I found it frustratingly common to die not due to the amount of enemies, but because of the placement of crystallized ones. You will die to enemies and their attacks, of course, though the trick is to create your own path through the waves of stationary targets.

Super Star Path

Strong Points: Ingenious concept, low price, light download, retro visual style.
Weak Points: Short duration, controls take some getting used to, sprite boxes feel a little off.
Moral Warnings: Mild fantasy violence.

It’s not always your fault if you get stuck with an impossible situation. Fixed defenses like flames and lasers kill monsters as well as you, and the rules of crystallization apply just the same. Occasionally, you will find the randomly-generated level unfortunately worked against you. Restarting is not difficult; there is no lives system and you retain all of your currency upon death.

Arguably the most positive impression I received while playing Super Star Path was the rate of fire between weaving through the level and encountering the level’s boss. Since every shot could sign your death warrant, the game is programmed to only allow semi-automatic fire: one button press, one shot. After you’ve cleared that section, however, full-automatic becomes available. Boss battles represent standard shmup fare, with a hint of bullet heck. I didn’t find the bosses terribly unique, but did not mind it; Super Star Path’s concept is innovative enough on its own that the levels’ climaxes prove a welcome reprieve and enjoyable reminder to fans of this genre. In fact, the two parts mix extremely well together.

Progression involves unlocking new ships to purchase. Each spaceship offers a different advantage such as immunity to certain attacks or hazards, or doubling gem income. Gems drop from destroyed enemies, more so from mobile ones that fight back. Three specific monsters carry a boost to later permanently upgrade a ship; three additional specific monsters drop large emeralds for completionists. And yes, I’ve accidentally blocked myself from accessing these specific monsters in levels, or worse, shot an adjacent monster that froze the special one!

Super Star Path
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 19/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 82%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 7/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 8/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Super Star Path’s story did not leave an impression. In all honesty, most shmups don’t. The gameplay is what you’re here for; any background information is often blitzed through regardless. The pilot’s voice-acting sometimes felt cringy, sometimes so cringy it sounded hilarious. Your ship's controls, while they work well almost all the time, very rarely sometimes felt slow or off. I attribute this to the boxy sprites and the hard unit collision they cause. I encounter this issue in older games; this aspect of the retro style I don't think needed reviving.

Morally, Super Star Path doesn’t raise any significant alarms. The pilot mildly curses maybe once in a while ("da**"). The deaths are comical, both for your pilot and the monsters. This game plays as violently as you’d expect from an old-school arcade like Galaga. The blown-up monsters have a very small window with very mild blood and gore. No sexual content to speak of.

In short, Galaga is a great comparison for Super Star Path. In brevity (it took me two hours to fully complete this game), innovation, and simplicity, Super Star Path shines as a sterling reminder of what indie games done right look like: fiendishly ingenious, inexpensive, and simple yet complete. Steam’s current asking price for any of DYA’s games is $2, more than fair for the straightforward fun they provide.

- Anax