It seems like classic puzzlers are being ported faster than you can slam a tetromino down. Here, we have a wonderful long-lost gem that features a colourful cast of characters, so grab a broom and let's start sweeping!
To my surprise, one week after I reviewed Crossroad Crisis, Star Sweep showed up on the PlayStation Store. That's two of my Top 10 Obscure PlayStation Puzzle Games back-to-back. Anyway, this puzzler is quite a lot different. You play it by moving a cursor over the playfield to toss coloured columns (that get barfed up by star-pig-fish-things) wherever you want. It's a refreshing change from the generic falling blocks formula. Instead, the field slowly gets pushed up by rising pieces and even giant boss blocks from time to time. The columns are single-coloured one-by-three pieces that have a star at one or both ends. As soon as two stars of the same colour touch, both corresponding columns disappear. Therefore, to maximize your score (or chances against an opponent) you need to perform chains. Thankfully, the gameplay is simple enough that anyone can learn how to do so given the right amount of practice. Once you learn the tricks of the trade, it feels great to start being able to beat tough opponents and get high scores.
One thing I love in any game is when the developers take the time and effort to create a lovable cast of characters. It's great to play as ten cute chums who each have their own back-stories and personalities. They even make the gameplay more enjoyable; especially when you factor in the brilliantly colourful visuals and great retro music. Speaking of which, the soundtrack is phenomenal. It's reminiscent of the 16-bit era with plenty of cheerful catchy tunes that'll make you tap your toe as you carefully plan your next chain. Overall, it may not look like much, but all of the little details add up to make Star Sweep one delightful puzzler.
Star Sweep consists of plenty of modes that may not offer endless replay value, but are different enough to keep you playing for longer than the average puzzler. That being said, the menus to choose modes are clumsy and awkwardly labeled. For example, the main menu features both "start" which allows you to select a mode and "practice" that automatically takes you to a tutorial. Why not have "practice" be a mode in the "start" menu? In this menu, you can choose from "one player mode" which is an arcade mode, "story mode" that is only for one player, "vs. mode", "attack mode" that consists of six different challenges, "bonus1 mode" where you can view characters, and "bonus2 mode" which is the same as story mode except every enemy is replaced by a different coloured alien. It's confusing and difficult to navigate but there's also a lot of fun to be had once you discover what's there.
As you play, you constantly collect star dust points for accomplishing certain tasks. This adds a layer of satisfaction to every little achievement particularly when you start unlocking additional content for your efforts. However, seeing as the core gameplay is so incredibly basic, it starts to wear thin after a while. This is especially true when you run out of fresh single player content. After you get a substantial amount of star dust and try every mode the game has to offer, you'll probably be satisfied enough to shut it off. The good news is that even after you stop playing, you're still left with a positive feeling for having experienced such an enjoyable game.
Star Sweep is a unique puzzle game that's sure to find a welcome home in any puzzler enthusiast's library. If you love simple yet satisfying gameplay, cute characters, and awesome retro music then you should definitely pick up this star-studded game.
- + Rewarding chain-based puzzle gameplay with plenty of ways to play
- + Cute characters and great retro music
- + Collecting star dust points is satisfying
- - Simplistic core gameplay wears thin after playing for a while
- - Clumsy menus are difficult to understand
- - Brief single player experience