Super Stardust HD was one of PS3’s earliest download-only hits (along with that adorable rubber duck game Super Rub A’ Dub), the first game to get trophies and a bold opening statement from developer Housemarque, a studio that went on to make the quite fantastic Resogun. As twin-stick shooters go, you’d be hard pressed to find a bad one made by Housemarque – and Super Stardust is one of their best – yet this PS4 version of that compelling early PS3 title is sadly a rather straightforward port.
For anyone that didn’t know, Super Stardust is – as mentioned above – a twin stick shooter, but rather than a simple top-down scroller, you control a spaceship that traverses a spherical gamespace as it attempts to save one of the five planets on offer via the medium of blasting asteroids into tiny fragments whilst avoiding the constant threat of being smushed by said asteroids and various other hazards and enemies. In short, it is a gorgeous-looking, highly addictive score-chaser that has a timeless appeal in pure gameplay terms. It was the case with Super Stardust HD and by golly, it remains equally true with Ultra.
These kind of games are extremely prevalent nowadays and that is in no small part to the impact of titles such as Super Stardust. It follows a formula that has roots in some of the earliest arcade games (Super Stardust was actually an old Amiga game before its PlayStation rebirth) but modernises it with eye-catching graphics and twists on the twin-stick shooter that Housemarque have continued to add to in later titles. Those arcade roots are the reason the series will age well: Score-chasing is still a hugely engrossing video game habit.
The problem then? Well, Super Stardust Ultra is almost identical to its PS3 sibling, even down to the rather flashy visual style which sadly now pales in comparison to stablemate Resogun’s digital firework collaboration of explosions and lasers. There’s all the DLC that was released for the original version, including Time Attack, Survival, Endless (basically stay alive until you can no longer avoid obliteration via the ever-quickening obstacles) and the challenging Bomber mode that disables your weapons and only gives you one life and the use of bombs. It’s a lot of content and with the co-op and versus modes there too it should justify the price tag, especially for anyone who jumped ship from other console brands or those whom it passed by the first time round. But, If you’ve played Super Stardust HD on PS3 and/or Delta on Vita before then there’s little new to recommend about it. I’d suggest checking this out down the line when it’s not full price and in truth, if you have Resogun already, then that renders SS Ultra a fundamentally great but ultimately pointless addition to your PS4 library.