An upcoming indie game for the Wii U brings a developer back to a Nintendo platform.
Star Ghost, a side-scrolling shmup with 12 procedurally generated stages set in space that features music from David Wise, will launch on March 10 exclusively for the Wii U eShop in North America and Europe.
The game is developed by Squarehead Studios, an independent company founded by Rhys Lewis in 2014. Lewis previously worked as the A.I. lead at Retro Studios, known for the Metroid Prime series and recent Donkey Kong Country games.
Star Ghost’s soundtrack reunites Lewis with David Wise, a composer known for his classic work on the Donkey Kong franchise and most recently Tropical Freeze (2014).
Movement across the levels is controlled using only one button by holding or releasing it to guide the ship. Shooting is done with the left stick that can also be held to increase firepower. There will be ship upgrades and new attacks to unlock. Viruses can take over the ship that prevent it from firing its weapons but can be reversed into smart bombs against enemy ships.
The game’s storyline is about the player defending Astron against heavy attacks from the Metagon Empire. Levels are filled with asteroid fields and pieces of exploded planets. Commentary over gameplay will be provided by Michelle Sundholm, a Portland, Oregon-based voice actor.
Star Ghost will cost $8.99 to download. It will also feature Off-TV Play with the GamePad.
Lewis previously worked at 3D Realms on what became Duke Nukem Forever and at Rare as a programmer on Banjo-Kazooie (1998) for the Nintendo 64. He also spent many years at Retro Studios on Nintendo-exclusive games like Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (2007), Donkey Kong Country Returns (2010) and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.
Lewis left the Texas-based Retro Studios in 2014, returning to the U.K. to start his own company in his hometown of South Wales.
Star Ghost’s main gameplay mechanic of using just one button to fly the ship was based on the rocket barrel and mine cart sections in Donkey Kong Country Returns, according to Lewis. Lewis designed those sections while at Retro Studios and believed they were also the right style for a shmup.
The game is based on a previous title called Star Drift that Lewis released for iOS and Android in March 2015. Star Ghost is a similar game but with expanded gameplay features and different mechanics designed using a controller. Lewis called it the game that Star Drift wanted to be, a release that’s developed deeper for the Wii U.
Watch Star Ghost’s trailer: