Watch gameplay of this new indie shmup on Nintendo’s eShop.
Star Ghost is an arcade-style shmup on the Wii U that uses a simple two-button control scheme for its gameplay. Using the A button the player can elevate the ship or release the control to cause a descent as it continues to fly forward through stages. The ship automatically fires as it moves, which can be aimed in different directions with the left analog stick.
Star Ghost was made by Squarehead Studios, an independent developer founded by Rhys Lewis in 2014. Lewis is the former A.I. lead at Retro Studios, who worked on releases like Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (2007) and the two latest Donkey Kong Country games while at the company. David Wise, the iconic composer known for his music in the Donkey Kong series, created Star Ghost’s soundtrack.
The game costs $8.99 on the eShop and takes 134 MB to download. It features full Off-TV play from the Wii U’s GamePad.
There are 12 planets in Star Ghost, each with a different set of procedurally generated levels. Each stage maintains the same enemy and obstacle placement but the timing of when you encounter the level is randomized. The ship’s fire rate, bullet spread and traction field can be increased from enemy drops. Credits can be earned by killing enemies or gathering them in the stage and are used to buy upgrades. There are also viruses that can cause the ship to temporarily lose control of its weapons. Once infected the ship can reverse the virus and cause an explosion that destroys nearby enemies.
While Star Ghost’s visuals and controls might make it look and sound simple, the game is actually a real challenge.
There’s only one life in the game. Once the ship’s shields are completely depleted it’s game over if you don’t buy an extra life for 50 credits. Credits take time to rack up and unless you stockpile them by not buying any upgrades for the ship, you might not have enough to keep playing after death.
There are all sorts of obstacles and tight spaces to maneuver through that pose a threat to the ship’s health. Guiding the ship with the A button requires a lot of attention and quick precision. Enemies can be relentless and overtake the screen. Upgrades have to be smartly used and strategically preserved for harder areas.
Star Ghost definitely feels like a throwback to the arcades, trying to best personal high scores after improving your skills and reflexes.
Watch Tim play the first few planets in Star Ghost: