Yes, it's the final area - the area where deadly Emperor Andross lives. Ee-elp. This area is actually split up into two sections and is quite tricky to say the least. On the hardest route, this level features a really nasty boss (the one just before Andross himself), so, er, be careful.
Upon reaching Andross, he morphs from a slab into a face. Shoot the eyes and you see a cube spinning. Shoot this and... And, so on, basically.
The Secret Worlds:
Yes, StarWing actually contains TWO secret worlds (well, what did you expect from Nintendo?) The first one - the Black Hole - is accessible by reaching the first asteroid belt, and going through the centre (gold) asteroid in the clump of 5 (or by shooting it at the last second). Do this on all 3 clumps, and a rather vicious face will appear. Fly into this to reach the Black Hole.
The Black Hole is a mysterious place, which is like a huge world of swirling dust and enemies. It features warps and loads of power ups; so collect a few twin blasters, a few bombs, and leave through one of the exit gates. Oh, and by the way, we've been dodging all the exits for about ¾ of an hour, and nothing happens. AHPGM?
To get to Out Of This Dimension, go to the second asteroid belt, and shoot the second very large asteroid which appears on the right of the screen. A bird will eventually hatch from an egg - simply fly into its eyes.
Out Of This Dimension doesn't actually appear on the map, but it's fun, so you can't really complain (Eh? - Confused Reader). After wading through the level (which features swirly faces in the background, and morphing 'things'), a slot machine will appear. Just shoot the lever on the right and a combination will appear. I was hooked, and really enjoyed testing out different combinations (Aaargh! Not only do games turn gamers into killers, they also turn them into addicted gamblers! - All the 'professors' in the world). Three identical
symbols will end the game (unless it's an Andross face, that is - whereby missiles fly out of the machine). Oh, and some combinations cause cash to come out of the machine, which replaces some of your lost energy.
It's true that StarWing is packed full of neat little surprises, and this is a definite plus in all of Nintendo's games. The game itself is just like any other shoot 'em up - it features power ups, loads of enemies, smart bombs, many levels, restart points, energy toppers, loads of bullets, end of level meanies and so on. But there is a big difference - the game's displayed in 3 dimensions! This means it's not just left-to-right and up-to-down, but in-and-out, too! Of course, this means that the bosses will be great, with awe-inspiring attack patterns - and indeed they are. I'll leave them as a surprise until you get the game, though.
People may complain about the game lacking depth, but as it was intended to be a shoot 'em up, that's fine by me. And I think a bit of strategy or exploration might have spoilt the game (seeing as it's purely action-based).
Another complaint would come directly from computer owners - PCs have had this sort of thing for years; and flight sims. now feature gouraud shading, texture mapping and what-have-you. A1200/4000 owners will soon have this sort of thing, too; so even with the Super FX chip, the game is lagging behind.
Talking about 'lagging behind', StarWing's not exactly the fastest game ever - it frequently jerks; but most of the time, it's just fast enough to be playable.
Although the game is large, it took me only a couple of days to complete it on 'Easy', another couple to complete it on 'Medium', and a few more to complete it on its hardest difficulty setting (and this wasn't solid playing either). This is not an opportunity for me to inflate my head, as I believe most experienced players could complete the game within a fortnight; and for £50, well, I didn't know whether I was happy or not to see the end-sequence.
Now if StarWing was on CD - wow!
Honestly though, I dislike criticising this game, because it's a breakthrough in gamesplaying for SNES owners, and such a fine game to boot. The music's great - really suitable and atmospheric, and although the graphics lack detail, they are appropriate, and the Mode-7 backgrounds plus bitmapped graphics work a treat.
Some precision is lost by the joypad control (give me an analogue joystick any day), but the controls are well laid out, and after a bit, you'll find yourself hooked to the game. And even though I've completed it, I'm still coming back for a quick bash occasionally.
So, congratulations on a job well done, Nintendo. (Ring any bells?)
If you complete the game when 'THE END' appears, don't switch off the machine. Instead, wait around 10 mins for a little surprise!
Apparently, "Zool is not an ant," according to Gremlin. "He is a ninja from the Nth dimension" they continue. Why Gremlin insist so strongly that Zool is not an ant is anyone's guess, though I presume it could be an attempt to stop purchasers from pouring boiling hot water over their copies of the game (or something). Anyway, the down-side to this statement from Gremlin is that I won't be able to finish off this review with any ant-type puns like 'fantastic' or 'brilliant'. However, I also benefit. Why? Because I've managed to fill up a whole paragraph of this review, that's why! Hooray! (I think.)
Anyway, Zool - the ant, er, sorry - 'ninja' from the Nth Dimension, is the star of a game, also called 'Zool ' (funnily enough), and possesses a fair amount of abilities - more than Sonic, in fact. He can jump, run, walk, spin round with his blades, slide, shoot, duck, punch, and kick (and make a rather silly noise when he dies for that matter).
Obviously for an ant (sorry - 'ninja'), Zool assumes our world is much bigger than it really is, which must be a little confusing for him. Still, he reckons he's good enough to find his way through six levels (each divided up into three sub-levels) of our planet. Luckily for our Zool, there aren't any people walking around this particular section of Earth at this particular time, so there's no chance of any-one 'accidentally' crushing him to death; just jelly-blobs, violins, fruit, toys, candy-floss, and several other meanies parade the levels. Talking about the levels, you're going to want a list of them, aren't you? Well, yes, you are, actually. (You better had.)
Level 1: Sweet World:
The start-off level, and arguably the best, sweet world consists of jelly-blobs, smarties, cake, marsh-mallows, and other such sweets 'n' treats. Quite linear this level (which, for me, is a good thing), it also features a puzzle or two, and even though they're simplistic, they still add to the game. There's even a GamesMaster secret room, to tie-in with the program cheat! (Advertising nowadays, I don't know.)
The bumble bee at the end of the level is quite easy to kill - it just trundles back and forth shooting things at you.
Overall level enjoyment rating: 7/10
Level 2: Music World:
This level can be a bit of a pain. There are awkward, frustrating moments to the level, which require great precision and timing. Music World is built around nice touches, though - like pressing notes on the keyboard to produce different effects, and the spinning record, etcetera, etcetera.
The boss is a massive guitar, but a slight bug is apparent - you can only finish it off with your bullets, not your blades - otherwise it returns.
The level's quite large and - as mentioned earlier - frustrating. Not much fun after you've seen all the level has to offer.
Overall level enjoyment rating: 5/10
Level 3: Fruit 'n' Veg. World:
This level boasts quite a fair amount of interaction - you can shoot the carrots with the lemons, for example. Like a lot of the other levels, the design isn't perfect, but it's
reasonably enjoyable, and you'll have fun discovering some of the hidden passageways.
The boss is a tired banana (Quite - Reader). It's tricky to kill, and even more so because of the alarm clock which you have to avoid - how alarming. (Oww. My ears! - Reader)
Overall level enjoyment rating: 6/10
Level 4: Tool World:
Oh, how I just hate this level. It's big, maze-like, frustrating, and utterly boring. After the first of the sub-levels, you've just about had enough, but it gets worse, alright.
The drill at the end is just like the rest - a bit of a pain to kill.
Overall level enjoyment rating: 4/10
Level 5: Toy World:
Ah... now this is more like it. More linear than the other levels, but overall, very similar. You've probably got a little bored of the game by now, so it's just as well this level isn't too frustrating.
The boss is a robot thing, which is tough, and a pain to kill.
Overall level enjoyment rating: 6/10
Level 6: Funfair World:
Most of this level's just like the rest of the game, but there are a couple of neat bits. The hammers, for instance, bang on the 'higher you hit, the further the thing goes up' (I don't know its name) thing, and, inevitably, if you're on it, you go higher, too.
The real fun comes near the end of the level, where you get the opportunity to let Zool relax and have a game of Zool on the arcade machine provided - perfect for topping up those lives in time for the end of game guardian (and a brilliant idea to boot).
Overall level enjoyment rating: 7½/10