Super Stardust Ultra VR

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Super Stardust Ultra VR Game Poster Image
Classic space shooter re-release gets VR mode, little else.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Illustrates benefit of remaining calm, collected in hectic situations.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players assume role of a pilot who does nothing but shoot, destroy everything around him. He never talks, so his motives, rationale are unclear.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, but challenge is intense. Depending on selected mode, players may not last even a minute before being destroyed.

Violence

Players use plasma cannons, rockets, bombs to blast rocks, ships, non-humanoid aliens from both top-down, first-person-cockpit perspectives. Defeated enemies explode, disappear.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Super Stardust Ultra VR is a downloadable top-down space shooter that puts players in the cockpit of a ship. Players use sci-fi weapons (plasma cannons, rockets, and more) to attack robotic drones and millipede-like aliens, which blow up and disappear when destroyed. Apart from the arcade-like violence, there's no objectionable content. Parents should be aware that virtual reality equipment makers don't recommend VR experiences for kids under 12 due to the potential impact the technology may have on younger players' physiological development.

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What's it about?

SUPER STARDUST ULTRA VR is essentially a special edition of 2015's Super Stardust Ultra with a new VR mode thrown in. The core experience remains largely the same: Players control a ship that glides over the atmospheres of spherical planets being bombarded with asteroids and aliens. Movement is controlled with one joystick, while firing various weapons -- plasma cannons, a gold melting beam, an ice spitter -- is controlled with the other. Triggers are used for bombs and speed boosts. There are nearly 10 play modes to choose from; some put players on a timer, while others restrict them to attacking only with bombs or slowly charging boosts. The new VR element lets players move their heads to look at nebulas and stars floating around the planet. It also enables a bonus ground-based mode where players find themselves inside the cockpit of a ship using head movements to aim at their attackers. In all modes, players are able to challenge friends on the PlayStation network to beat their performance.

Is it any good?

If you already own the previously released space shooter, there's really no reason to pick up this game. The only meaningful difference between the two is that Super Stardust Ultra VR packs in a short little ground-based mode with a first-person virtual reality perspective. But there are other PlayStation VR games that provide a similar cockpit-style combat experience with much more depth plus features like online multiplayer.

That said, if you've never played Super Stardust Ultra, you own a PlayStation VR kit, and you generally enjoy simple top-down space shooters, then the Ultra VR edition might be worth considering. The core mechanics governing the frenetic top-down action are satisfying, and there's no shortage of game types to experiment with should you grow bored of the primary arcade mode. Plus, the fast-paced space-y electronic music is a perfect match for the action and will likely stick in your head for days after you finish playing. As in the original game, players are locked into a more or less fixed aerial view of the planet, which means the VR perspective doesn't really add much. But at least the headset blocks out the rest of the room and helps make the experience a little more immersive.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about technology addiction. Virtual reality is a novel technology with which some people may easily become obsessed, so how does your family create rules on when and for how long kids should be allowed to use something like PlayStation VR?

  • Talk about war. Games often present conflict in black-and-white terms, with players given no reason to fight their enemies except that they will be attacked and destroyed if they don't, but do you think real soldiers ever feel in the dark about why they're fighting? Should soldiers ever question their orders?

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