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Starshot: Space Circus Fever

Rated E for Everyone

Platform:

Nintendo 64 (N64)

Publisher:

Infogrames

Developer:

Infogrames

Released:

June 1999

ROM Size:

96 megabits

Players:

One

Genre:

3D Action/Adventure

Save:

Cartridge (4 slots)

Optional:

None

 

 

> Final Rating: 2.1 out of 5.0

Introduction

From Infogrames' development team in Paris comes Starshot: Space Circus Fever. Although the game was available in PAL format (meaning available in Australia and Europe) six months before coming to U.S. shores, it probably should not have come to America at all. Starshot: Space Circus Fever epitomizes shoddy programming and boring game design.

 

Although admiration should be given to Starshot: Space Circus Fever for trying to be original, the game and story are too scatterbrain and weird to be enjoyable.

Gameplay & Control

As the story goes in Starshot: Space Circus Fever, the once-mighty Space Circus has fallen on hard times to its competitor, Virtua Circus. Wolfgang Von Ravel's ultra-modern Virtua Circus is capturing all the business on planets across the universe. He's digitally capturing the natural wonders of space—the Milky Way, the Big Dipper, the rings of Saturn—and making people pay to see them. It's up to the completely dispensable Starshot to save space's beauty and to save Space Circus from bankruptcy.

 

The story can be clever at times, but most of the time, it's just plain boring with a lack of humor. Worse, you're forced to wade through countless text boxes that further the story and explain game concepts. Spoken gibberish accompanies the text, but it quickly gets old and doesn't work as well as in Banjo-Kazooie.

 

Starshot is joined on his quest by Willfly and Willfall. Willfly is the name of the small rocket that hovers behind Starshot. Fuel is required to use him to fly. Willfall is a small robot that follows Starshot around like a shadow, keeping him company and participating in conversations. They will visit the planets of Tensuns (a tropical island with ten artificial suns), Primitron (a natural and man-made jungle), Killer Expo (the self-proclaimed "ultimate" shopping mall), Technomum (a planet populated by perfect machines), and more.

 

The first planet, Tensuns, gives you an idea that things to come aren't going to be so good in Starshot: Space Circus Fever. The first things you'll notice are the terrible frame rate and the horrible camera. This combination means you'll only be able to play the game in short increments because you'll get nauseated or a headache. Of course, you probably wouldn't want to play it that long, anyway.

 

Let's talk about the main screen. Starshot can pick up green life points that serve as his health. Each hit against him takes off one life point. The maximum number of life points is eight. Starshot's method of attack is to shoot stars. Each blue star picked up equals two shots, and he can hold up to 50 of them. Starshot needs to pick up mega fuel points in order to reach different planets. Each red icon is worth one point. Finally, with the help of Willfly, you can fly by picking up flight time. Each yellow capsule is worth two seconds of flight time, and the maximum flight time is 40 seconds.

 

The default control scheme in Starshot: Space Circus Fever has one glaring problem: camera control. The Control Stick solely is used for movement. Then the A button jumps, and you can tap it twice while remaining still to fly. The B button fires one star shot at a time. And the R button is used to talk or pick up objects. For whatever reason, the developers decided to control the camera with the Z button. So you have to hold the Z button and then move the stick to rotate or tilt the view. The A and B buttons zoom in and out when the Z button is held down. You also can hold Z and press start to bring up a map. To put it simply, this method of camera control absolutely sucks.

 

This doesn't mean the rest of the control is off the hook, however. Because of the jittery frame rate and jerky camera movement, it's tough to aim shots and to jump between platforms. This can be very frustrating.

 

Gameplay in Starshot: Space Circus Fever is what you'd expect: standard platforming action. Level design, however, is extremely boring. Clever traps are nowhere to be found. Interesting enemies don't exist. Puzzles are rather limited. The environments are bland, confusing, and poorly planned. When you couple these facts with the lacking control, a poor frame rate, and an inconsistent camera, it makes for a rather trying gameplay experience.

 

Starshot: Space Circus Fever doesn't contain too much in the way of options, but there are a few intriguing choices. For instance, you have the choice to play the game in English, French, or German. Another option is the ability to choose a standard 4/3 screen format or a 16/9 letterbox format. The game also has built-in EEPROM support with four save files, so you don't need a Controller Pak to save your game.

Graphics & Sound

The game's sickening frame rate, not to mention the bothersome camera, already has been discussed several times. Other problems with the graphics in Starshot: Space Circus Fever include too simple polygon design, lots of fog, dull textures, clipping problems, less-than-stellar animation, and poor menu interfaces. Is there anything good about the graphics? Not really, other than the attempt at original character design. Nearly everything that could go wrong did go wrong, which is especially bad for a game released two years after the system came out.

 

Not much good can be said about the sound, either. The sound effects are often out of place and often are very annoying. The character gibberish already was mentioned. The sound effects aren't just what you would expect sometimes, and no kind of circus-like atmosphere exists. The stereo music can seem out of place, too, and does nothing for the game. In fact, it's annoying.

Conclusion

Starshot: Space Circus Fever is certainly one of the worst titles in the second generation of N64 games. The gameplay might have been saved with a solid frame rate, good camera programming, or exacting control. As such, though, the combination of every negative factor equals one putrid package. Be advised to avoid this one at all costs.

 

Graphics:

1.9

Sound:

2.1

Control:

2.3

Gameplay:

2.0

Lastability

2.6

OVERALL:

2.1

 

DOWN THE ROAD

Not available.

 

Review by: Scott McCall

First Reviewed: May 17, 2000

Appendix Added: N/A

 

 

 

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