Review Shooter

Star Hunter DX – Review

Star Hunter DX is named as such because you’re a space bounty hunter. The game is a Shmup/Bullet Hell/Fly Shoot Dodge ’em up so it fits the naming convention of the genre. Is it worth jetting off to the stars for? Let’s have a gander, shall we?

Boss

Fly Me to the Moon!

Luna Starr (see what they did there?) is backstabbed and left for dead by her sketchy-looking crew. She decides to order the dish that is best served cold and take them down in everyone’s favorite space tradition; a deathmatch in the stars. 

Being that Star Hunter DX is a Shmup there isn’t a huge wealth of story, lore, or anything narrative. There are interactions with the boss characters at the end of each stage. These are just pre-fight banter, much like the comments made post-fight in Street Fighter. This isn’t an issue because playing a Shmup for the story is like playing a visual novel for intense and intricate gameplay and combo mechanics.

Star Hunter DX - Explosions

Moon River

So let’s get into the nitty-gritty of it all. I’ll explain the mechanics of Star Hunter DX and if or why it’s worth a purchase when there are now a wealth of Shmups available on the digital game market. 

Star Hunter DX is a traditional horizontal shooter. It focuses more on bullet-dodging compared to environmental hazards. A close comparison would be Mushihimesama, which we recently reviewed, although that one is a vertical shooter or many of the doujin titles.

The first mechanic Star Hunter DX is eager to show off is the “Graze” mechanic which genre fans will be familiar with but newcomers made be unaware of. In Star Hunter DX you have a small barrier that surrounds your ship. If bullets fly through it, your score rises as does your bullet time meter. It’s the ultimate risk VS reward and easily one of the most satisfying additions to the genre.

Now as mentioned, Star Hunter DX has a bullet time mechanic. This is a fantastic addition that slows time down allowing you to dodge bullets with ease, but it also ties into the scoring mechanic again. If you activate it then destroy a ship, any bullet that has fired turns into a score collectible. This promotes risky behavior as you want the screen as full as possible to maximize score output, but there is the obvious danger there too.

Star Hunter DX - Bullets

We are all Made of Stars

In terms of shot mechanics, you have a standard spread shot and a stronger focused shot which also slows you down for more intricate maneuvering; The bomb is a giant 360-degree shield that clears out shots and deals decent enough damage. Your 3 different selectable ships also have different shots but as they are unlockable I’ll leave it to you eager astronauts to figure out the differences.

The game features six stages of pure Shmup action, with levels ranging from outer space to underwater planets. It’s the usual shtick for this kind of game and remains a consistent shoot ’em up throughout. While there aren’t any other gameplay surprises, what’s here is good stuff, especially for newcomers or toe dippers to the genre. Though it does miss out on some features, such as online leaderboards and extra modes.

Star Hunter DX -Boss

The Return of the Space Cowboy

Visually Star Hunter DX is a beautiful combination of colorful and minimalistic in the best way. Screenshots do not do the game justice with how good it looks, especially the underwater planet on stage 3 which just pops with vibrancy and sold me on the game’s visual style.

The enemy designs in the game felt a little dull for the most part, and I wasn’t a massive fan of the popcorn enemies but fortunately, the boss designs more than made up for them. Star Hunter DX has fantastic-looking bullet designs and each boss is designed to be both visually appealing and fun to fight.

The sound effects have that snappy arcade Hi-Score addiction feeding feel to them and the music manages to match the action quite well. While it doesn’t meet the lofty heights of Darius or some of the other best in the genre soundtracks, there are a few bangers here to accompany you on your mission.

Verdict

Star Hunter DX is a fantastic middle-of-the-road Shmup. There are curious omissions like no online leaderboards, no dedicated score attack mode and no robust training mode where you can practice tricky segments over and over. These omissions aren’t quite justified by the existence of an achievement list. This is still a good time, but just a little minimalistic in more ways than the art style. Unfortunately, that makes it a tougher sell than it should be.

WAIT FOR SALE ON STAR HUNTER DX

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Xbox One

If you would like to see more Shooters, you may be interested in our review of Cotton Reboot.

Many thanks go to Chorus Worldwide for a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.

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