2 out of 5- A good effort. Borrows its style from Mega Man and 90s Sega Genesis games, but lacks the same kind of tight design that made the classics of that era great. I look forward to its sequels.
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How Metroidvania is it? High Fit. The map is practically useless, but the game world is large with lots of reasons to backtrack (including being required to progress.)
Primary Challenge: Ranged Combat
Time to beat: ~5 hours
Review Info: Legends of the Universe - Starcore was played on Steam.

More Info

Developer: LunarCore Games
Publisher: LunarCore Games
Sub-genre: Metroid-Like
Features: Map System, 2D Platformer, Ranged Combat
Difficulty: Low
Linearity/Openness: High Gating - No Handholding
Platforms: Windows, Steam
Release Date: 2016/07/25
Available Languages: English

Store Links

    Steam    

Buy Legends of the Universe - Starcore if you like…

  • Campy Robot Hero Stories
  • Music beats like a 90s Sega Genesis games
  • Fast movement (with wonky hit detection)
  • Overpowered weapons that trivialize encounters

▼ Review continues below ▼

I was giddy as a schoolgirl when I first started this game up, but that could have just been the contrast between this and the last game I played. Legends of the Universe – Starcore (which I’m just going to call “Starcore” from here on) starts off with fast pacing and a lot of promise. Part of what made me laugh out loud was the sound design; Starcore heavily uses synthesized percussion for its soundtrack, and your hint companion sounds like an old Jazz Musician whenever he says “Hey… Listen” – I thought it was part of the music at first. But of course this game has style, because it unabashedly rips a lot of it from Mega Man, a series which had a character designer so good that people were willing to follow him straight into the garbage bin. But, what could have been a passably fun game is bogged down by a lot of game design decisions that should have been caught in play testing or eliminated through expert planning.

For the most part moving around the game’s world is fluid and fun. Moving horizontally is a blast, especially once you get the speed boost upgrade. I spent most of the game flying through levels and jumping on enemy’s heads with exhilerating velocity. As soon as you have to move vertically though you gotta waaaait, and it feels so slow by contrast.

But that’s really just a nitpick. Where the game falls apart for me is some of the level design decisions. While I appreciate the labyrinthine structure, the map system is completely inadequate to support it. In fact, it actually worked against me in my final play session. Because of life I was unable to play for almost a week, and I simply forgot what I had been doing. I was in the middle of a quest to destroy the Starship’s primary systems, and though the game shows you a checklist whenever you destroy a part, it doesn’t store that checklist anywhere you can reference it. While a quest log of some kind would have been convenient in this situation, the lack of one really isn’t my complaint. My problem was that in my efforts to brute force where I was supposed to go, I checked the map of each area for the red box that indicates where the boss was. Having checked every red box room, I had wandered longer than I wanted to and started looking outside of the game for advice. Ultimately I realized that each system had an achievement attached to it, and I figured out where I was supposed to go by looking it up on the store achievement page. As it turns out, the one system I hadn’t destroyed yet was located in a boss room that was not marked red like the rest of the others.

And this kind if conveyance issue caught me a few other times as well. Early in the game if you don’t complete each area in a specific order, you might not have the power up needed to exit other areas, meaning my normal approach of “Sequence Break Every Metroidvania” was punished with having to Alt-F4 and reset the game. It’s the kind of thing that would be easy to do if you design your levels stream of conscious style – but that approach to level design doesn’t really work very well in a Metroidvania (at least not without a diligent playtester to be your “editor”.)

The game’s simplistic combat also doesn’t really help my opinion. It works, but Mega Man it is not. Early game enemies go down quickly enough that their basic patterns aren’t really a problem, but at some point halfway through the game they all get an HP upgrade that makes it much more efficient to take damage and run through them during the i-frames rather than deal with them.

There is a lot to like about Starcore, though I’ll admit that my love for the Mega Man series makes me want something like it to succeed. The story is cute in a childish cartoon sort of way and I love the general style – the game design just needs a bit of work to make it a recommendable experience. I think LunarCore Games’ heart is in the right place, and that they have a lot of potential. It’s just not realized in Starcore.

Based on the game’s ending though, there’s more to come, and I actually look forward to it. Hopefully in whatever LunarCore makes next though there’s a good recap, because this one is pretty skippable.


Final Score

2/5

Scoring system overview


Metroidvania Breakdown

Combat
– 2

Enemies tend to stand and deliver, providing little challenge and eventually become boring bullet sponges - including the bosses

Platforming
– 2

Movement is fun and fast, but collision detection is weird, especially when jumping through platforms

Exploration
– 2

A nice big map would be fun to backtrack into, but the map tool is lacking when it's really needed

Puzzle
– 1

There's one ''puzzle boss'' out of the blue, but that is pretty much the extent of it

Story
– 3

Overarching story is passable for this kind of game

Graphics
– 3

Mega Man style aesthetic does its job well enough

Music
– 3

Funky beats and record scratches bring me back to the 90s

Replayability
– 1

Nothing to bring you back


Want a second opinion? See what other reviews say:

Steam Reviews
All Time: Mostly Positive
(76% of 71 Reviews)


TBD Metacritic
Read critic reviews