STario Land preview

Serious, thoughtful gaming makes its excuses and leaves as Top Byte Software prepares to release a simplistic, fun platformer

Drawing heavily on the influence of newer console games, Top Byte's latest platformer follows the adventures of a skilled labourer on a treacherous journey through a land strewn with strange creatures and enormous amounts of cash. The classic values of 'something to kill, something to collect' are in evidence as a cute hero bounces around the screen.

STario Land's fun lies in its simplicity. You control a character that can walk, run, jump and crouch to make his way from the left-hand side of the horizontally- scrolling world to the right, and all you really have to master is the way he moves. The obstacles you come across are either puzzles to solve, scenery to climb or dexterous manoeuvres to make, but the inclusion of a swarm of bad guys who hurt you on contact turn every piece of colourful scenery into a challenge.

These STario Land screen shots are undoubtedly going to get some people excited about exactly how the console market influenced this game. Indeed, these graphics don't look all that unfamiliar. I can only stress that this game is still in development, and uses sprites that will not appear in the final game, for obvious legal reasons.

Bad news for violence fans – you don’t to shoot anything. Though you can obtain the ability to bounce thunderbolts at the more unapproachable evils, the majority of the slaying involves jumping on your enemies' heads. The cash, of course, don't have only needs to be jumped through.

Initially the movement of the main character may cause a problem. You can spot a beginner a mile away, sliding off the end of a plat- form or totally misjudging a jump, due not only to STario's two running speeds but also to an seemingly unnecessary amount of inertia. As you play, though, you'll develop the fluidity and timing that makes STario such a joy to play, becoming smoother and less awkward as you get used to the feel of the game. STario's weighting is about right, the speed matching the parabola perfectly (in other words, the character doesn't look like he's swimming when he jumps).

Spinning coins rotate tempting STario into a feeding
frenzy. How to get those coins beneath him,
though? You certainly can't fit through that gap.

The yellow blocks hold goodies that can be revealed by
jumping into the block from beneath. nudging that cash out.

The emphasis in STario Land is on enjoyment. The graphics con- firm that this is a game with a sense of humour, and the bad guys go from the sublime to the plain silly. From tortoises to typewriters (I think), just about everything imaginable roams the cheerfully coloured landscape. The linear nature of the game means you don't have to make big decisions, navigate maps or get lost - just get to the right any way you can, and have fun doing it.

It was at that moment that our eyes met. Everything
seemed to freeze as the large green frog fell to earth
- before cracking his skull open.

The speed at which you can move makes even the
flattest, most featureless landscape a challenge to navigate.

Whatever it ends up looking like, you can expect a reviewer wibbling about traditional gaming values in a few months. STario Land is mindless, hassle-free, simple fun, and I think you're going to enjoy it a lot... stf


One of the most successful industries in the home entertainment sector is the console industry. It started with Atari, and has been making money ever since. Atari is still in there with the Jaguar, although the half-hearted attempts to push this obviously talented machine suggest a slight lack of enthusiasm. When we dig into the past, other machines come to the fore, such as the Master System, the NES, and more recently the SNES and Mega Drive.

Far from pushing back the boundaries of home entertainment, the consoles carved out their niche with a unique style of gaming, headed by a tidal wave of new, cute platform games. Though, in essence, the platform game has been around since the dawn of time, the wave washed up general style points new to the gaming scene. Platform games picked up in speed, side, and detail.

Ingenuity on the part of the designers taxed the player's reflexes, skill and speed, and the new wave called for a great deal more thought, attention and learning than cider games.

For some reason, this unmistakable game design has never made its way back to the computer it started on - until now. STarioLand is speed a game designed with and dexterity in mind.


ST Format Shrine
Page last updated: 05 November 2011
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