Old RPG Review #12: Startropics

NuMetalManiak There is absolutely nothing wrong with not liking something as long as you aren't overly hateful about it, and I'm not overly hateful about this RPG. I've played it though, and didn't like it, so on with this review. Startropics is an action RPG for the NES released in 1990 for North American and European systems.

Gameplay: It plays kinda like Final Fantasy in the overworld, but the dungeons are kinda like Zelda. The overworld and towns do not have much about them, you don't fight anyone out there, just go in between locations. The dungeons are where the action takes place. Like Legend of Zelda, you fight enemies and you have a heart system for health. Also you have a lives system, like in some platformers. And you also jump on platforms. The character's choice of weapon is a yo-yo, given at the start, but it's range is short. There are some upgrades for it though, so that's a thing, but you need to have a set amount of hearts to use it. There are other weapons, but they are pretty difficult to use properly. Startropics sets itself up into chapters, which are explicitly shown as you go from chapter to chapter. It's pretty linear, but what can you expect for the NES.

Two complaints I have about Startropics which really bring the gameplay down a lot are very powerful enemies and very awkward controls. The bosses in the game can instantly kill you by just touching you; this is easy to see for some of the later ones. There are also several jumping parts in the game, like a platformer, and just about every liquid surface you see is fatal to your character. Yes, even water. There's a prevalent water theme going around, so a lot of the dungeons have water, and your guy just can't swim. Now onto the awkward controls. This is the main reason I hate this game so much. In the dungeons, you use the D-pad to move around, but the guy seems to move only when he's on square tiles and seems to move awkwardly. Also, you have to push in a direction in order to jump a gap. The controls made the game very, very difficult to play.

As for the dungeons themselves, they are pretty intricate. There are some puzzling moments, some fights against mini-bosses, some trap rooms, some trap rooms. Basically, anything you can possibly find can be in these dungeons, and not for the better most of the time. Enemies are quite varied, and this variety proved quite dangerous when playing, coupled with awkward controlling. The only way you can expand your heart meter is by completing dungeons, kinda like Legend of Zelda, but health refills are pretty scarce apart from magic potions. One final thing about dungeons is that some of them might have "fake exits", ones which immediately take you back to the overworld without any progress, so you have to start all over again. Very frustrating. I recommend playing Startropics with a map handy so you don't get so discouraged on the game. Grade: D+

Character: Your characters name is Mike Jones, a blue-shirted teenager who journeys to find his missing uncle. An alright character overall. There's nothing too out of the ordinary about him. What I don't like is that he looks really fat when on the overworld, but skinny while in the dungeons. Grade: C

Plot: So Mike has to find his uncle who is missing. He finds talks to some people on the islands shown in the game (some are very aptly named, like C-Island right at the beginning), and then gets certain types of items to help him on his quest. He learns that his uncle was actually abducted by some alien creatures. He gets help from a submarine robot named NAV-COM and sets out for various other islands. Mike continues the journey getting more items and clues as to where to go next (there's also one crossdressing segment), and even meeting a few intelligent but friendly creatures along the way. Just before the final area of the game, you find your uncle at last, but it isn't over yet. You now invade the alien spaceship in hopes of finally confronting the alien leader, Zoda, and defeat him, then return to your home island for a nice happy ending. Overall, the plot is pretty short and simple, get your lost loved one in a long journey and defeat the evil. It's made simplistic since it's for the NES. Not bad. Grade: B-

Music: Nothing really stands out music-wise. The overworld theme is pretty basic, and it gets pretty old after awhile, and the dungeon themes aren't too decent. Grade: C-

Overall grade: C-

Startropics is very difficult to complete. You can use the term "Nintendo Hard" to describe it, much like you would any other NES game. But this game is hard because of it's awkward controlling and very mean enemies that can totally kill you easily. Not to mention dungeons with fake exits and fatal floors. It's probably not worth playing. Maybe if your curious about playing NES games then it can be good, but I'm not into it at all.