Legend of Starfy 3 (Game Boy Advance) Review

By Adam Riley 02.06.2006 1

What do you get when you cross Mario and Kirby? One heck of an ugly character, most definitely! But anyway, a few years back Nintendo and Tose created a series of platform games that play similar to both those characters’ titles, featuring a cute little starfish called Starfy. Cubed³ takes a look at the third entry on the GBA to see whether we should look forward to its DS début or not…

You may never have heard of poor little Starfy. Originally destined for the Game Boy Colour, his first release came on the GBA instead and you may have actually unwittingly seen him in two popular Western releases over the past few years. Hidden away in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is a poster featuring him and in Super Princess Peach, also developed by Starfy's developer TOSE, he makes a cameo as 'Starfish, the prince of some land'! Anyway, in this, his third GBA outing, he is joined by his younger sister, Starpy, who just happens to be pink in order to distinguish her from the yellow Starfy.

Unlike many of the shoddy Third Party offerings on the GBA, this game looks like a final generation SNES platform game, as opposed to something knocked together in a few weeks. Careful attention has been put into how the characters appear on-screen, complete with their own (albeit sickeningly cute at times) personalities being expressed wonderfully through their meticulous animation. The stages played through are full of vibrant colours, all used to great effect, with good use of parallax scrolling in the backgrounds and small extra details here and there that is akin to Nintendo's best. And it all comes with no clipping or slowdown issues! Playing this on a Game Boy micro was an absolute treat, as it even looks better than many DS efforts so far.

Whilst in the New Super Mario Bros. DS review it was mentioned that the tunes are 'good but rather forgettable', the same is definitely not true here. The music used throughout Starfy really does strike the right notes, with peaceful, lilting tunes emanating from your speakers one minute, and then hectic, pounding synth, with a catchy backbeat thrilling your ears the next. However, whilst the soundtrack easily outpaces that of NSMB, there is a drawback in the form of the sound effects, which strangely all seem to sound slightly off-key. But with so many good pieces of music, this can be easily overlooked. Crack out those earphones!

So the game's protagonist is of the aquatic variety, a four-pointed starfish, two acting as legs, the other two as arms. Oh and he has a cute facial disposition as well, as with any truly loveable Nintendo character. Already those haters of Kirby will be ready to turn their noses up at this, and if the idea of another saccharine adventure does leave you with the beginnings of gastroenteritis, then strap yourself down as it only gets more twee for here on in. Just as the Mario series switches between over world locales and underwater scenarios, so does Starfy, with even some cavernous and outer-space stages thrown into the melting pot for good measure. If you think that this is nothing better than a mere clone, then you are terribly mistaken as this is TOSE's baby and it has been nurtured to almost perfection...yes, 'almost perfection', putting it on a par with the Italian plumber's efforts. Shocking, yes?

The game is not simply played through using Starfy alone, though, as this time his little sister comes in to lend a helping hand. This element adds to the experience so well due to the fact that each character has slightly different abilities. For example, later in the game Starfy gains the ability to dash against oncoming strong water currents, whilst Starpy is able to crawl under long stretches of low space (Starfy can only slide under a very small low gap). This means that the game becomes rather Metroid-like in that certain areas cannot be traversed or even accessed without waiting for the automatic switch that happens when specific triggers are approached. And this is in addition to the standard holding down 'B' to dash on dry land and 'A' to jump / 'A' to dash underwater and 'B' to spin attack at enemies. There are even sections where you talk to particular characters that will not let you pass by until you have worked your way around the current level either completing a set task (rescuing animals, for example) or collecting special items from treasure chests.

There really is so much variety in Starfy 3, with another couple of examples including players having to control a mad sheep that screams at spiky platforms to make them flat, or enjoy a bounce-fest as you have to take Starfy on a pogo contraption to launch him up to very high platforms. It is not just 'cute', it is absolutely crazy at times, in a very good way as it keeps the game from becoming stale! There are also tactics required, so gamers wanting to rush straight through levels will not be able to do so. For instance there are crumbling platforms that are not similar to those in Mario, but the same as those in Super Princess Peach (also made by TOSE and lifted from this series). Peach had to use her slow walking to cross them in that case, and here players must jump and hold that button to float through the air, gently landing on the platforms before quickly doing the same to get to the next one. A lot of skill is involved throughout, despite the game's simplistic appearance. Losing all your hearts can happen in moments of complacency and the Game Over screen can be a subsequent annoyance. Collect enough star points during levels and you can keep your health up long enough to reach the end. No blind runs here...

The game is not a walk in the park either, as there are eight worlds, each broken down into four separate stages that are surprisingly expansive. The levels are not basic left-to-right short bursts against the clock like those found in Super Mario Bros., but instead long, drawn out, non-timed levels that encourage exploration. Amidst all the fun, though, are troublesome bosses that test your dexterity on many occasions. Okay, this is by no means the most gruelling game you will ever play, but it is also not as straight forward as some of the Kirby or Wario games we have been treated to over the years. And, thankfully, the language barrier barely proves to be a stringent obstacle. Plus there are mini-games that can be accessed for up to four players and many different costumes to purchase and play around with. Oh, and watch out for a cameo from Wario toward the end of the game!

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Playing through the third Starfy game really does make you wonder why Nintendo has yet to bring this exemplary platform series to the West. With great characters, charming visuals, a very pleasing soundtrack and enough platform antics to challenge Mario, Starfy is definitely worth picking up on import! Keep your fingers crossed for the DS game being translated...






2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   


I wish the little Starfish would be launched in the West. I've just got LoS4 on the DS and it's just as good as this game.

Nintendo, what are you playing at?!?! :roll:

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

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