SophStar (PC)

Brazilian developer BananaBytes are taking on the world of Shmups in this ever growing resurgence. Do they have what it takes or does this experience just Byte? 

SophStar is a vertical “Shmup” sporting a graphical style distinctly 16 bit with plenty of colour, big explosions and colourful objects to collect. 

The game features a combo system scoring you on how quickly you dispatch foes, many scoring items to pick up and a rather generous extend score which with a little practice should see players getting through the first couple of stages with minimal effort, as is law once Stage 3 hits you’ll sweat regardless of entry skill level.

SophStar is really responsive and benefits from having a great set of control options, a shot button, sub weapon, teleport and two buttons that quarter or half your speed for tricky bullet sections, all really intuitive especially for fellow Shmuppers.

The teleport ability is one of the main differences in SophStar from its genre buddies and it’s a fantastic addition, while different for every ship it’s ideal for getting in and out of tough situations and especially with the rather aggressive bosses, zipping out of tough bullet sections at the press of a button is outstanding and the cooldown is just right so you aren’t afraid to use it but won’t sit there abusing it. 

The game looks like it would have been right at home between Soldier Blade and Blazing Lazers on the home of Shmups itself, the TurboGrafx 16.

The music is phenomenal and does a great job of dragging you back to those glorious TurboGrafx 16/Mega Drive/SNES days with its toe tapping beats and furious speed. 

The game does seem to have quite a substantial story with really well drawn sprite based cutscenes, these are fully skippable and because of the genre totally non essential to enjoyment, think of them as a pleasant extra that you can choose to go along with or just skip to the shooting and don’t ask questions. 

While the first stage starts out rather pedestrian in its design the second stage has you navigating what seems to be the inside of a volcanic planet and it’s onwards and upwards from there in terms of level designs and set pieces. 

The game has 9 different ships to choose from, all with distinctly different visuals, different shots, sub shots and teleporting skills, it caters for every playstyle and really adds to that all important replayability trying to 1CC the game with each ship. 

Alongside that there is an extensive “Cadet Training” mode which offers challenges to try and push you into playing the game in different ways, it’s fairly meaty, not done too often and an absolutely phenomenal training inclusion here. 

You’ve also got a Score Attack, Endless Mode and Timed Challenge very similar to Caravan modes of ye olde times, to say SophStar is packed with modes and choices of how to play would be an understatement.

To say SophStar is a great title wouldn’t really do it justice, it rings in memories of iconic Shmups and provides so much content that there really isn’t anything negative to say about the game. 

SophStar is the best Shmup I’ve played in a long time, it’s addictive gameplay, fun scoring content and plethora of modes really make this the IT Shmup of 2022.



The new standard for the genre

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