The Red Star is one of those games that most serious video game players should have but not for doing anything radically different. For the most part it is a rather basic top down beat ‘em up game, or that it even does not look that great, it would have been impressive if it was a PS1 game. The thing that makes The Red Star a good game is that everything is done in such a solid and understandable way. Even with this strength it still does seem to suffer a little from the transition from the PS2 to the PSP.
The way that both the shooting mixes with the brawler aspect makes the game itself warrant a look. All of the characters in the game come equipped with guns that they can use to take down enemies from a distance. The guns overheat when used too much, which pretty much forces the player to close the distance and use melee attacks. The weapons can be upgraded to fit play-style, and while some enemies can only be taken out with a melee attack it almost always seems guns are best for any other situation.
The game controls remarkably well. Being a shooter/brawler clone it would have been nice if there was a second stick on the PSP to fine aim while shooting enemies from a distance while the lock on mechanic is more functional than most on the system. Taking the spirit of other side scrolling shooters, the controls are simple and responsive enough that when a mistake is made it is simply the player’s fault; you cannot blame the game’s controls here.
The only real problem with the gameplay is that it does find a way to get overly hard very quickly. The game starts off so difficult that most players will die on the tutorial level, but maintains a playable pace for some time. After advancing the game a few chapters, the difficulty becomes overly brutal, almost suddenly. This wouldn’t be nearly that bad if it wasn’t for the lack of checkpoints in the levels, so one death means that the entire painfully difficult stage needs to be cleared again. In game, where random enemies can be almost as difficult as mid-bosses, this can make a stage that should last 10 minutes take hours.
All of this, even some of the more odd difficulty faults, feels more designed than anything. The Red Star is more of a throwback to older games that didn’t make excuses for difficulty spikes, and simply expected players to learn the right way to play. That said, most people have probably moved on from the grinding difficulty of the NES and SNES days.
The price for the game isn’t terrible at 15 dollars. While it would have been nicer if it was a little lower, namely around the 10 dollars a new copy for the PS2 version costs, the game does have enough in it to keep a player entertained at that price. Hopefully the fact that there is another, cheaper, version of the game out there won’t distract too many people from picking it up.
The Red Star is a great game, just one that wasn’t designed for most people to get excited about. It is difficult, doesn’t look that great, and is a little bit more expensive than it should be, but if you can look past all of that it is worth the cost of admission. Sadly, most of the people that can look past that may have already gone out and bought it when it came out.
Not As Good As: Playing it with a PS2 controller
Also Try: the PS2 version
Wait For It: Hopefully a sequel
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