Super Stardust Delta
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|Super Stardust Delta|
PlayStation Store icon
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Designer(s)||Amar Djouad, Henri Mustonen|
|Programmer(s)||Jere "XMunkki" Sanisalo, Markku Velinen|
|Genre(s)||Shoot 'em up|
Super Stardust Delta, known as Star Strike Delta in Japan, is a twin-stick shoot 'em up video game for the PlayStation Vita handheld console. It is part of the Stardust series of games developed by the Finnish company Housemarque and was released on 19 January 2012 in Japan, 22 February 2012 in Europe and on 22 February 2012 in North America.
Using the PlayStation Vita's dual analog sticks, players control a starship orbiting a planet. The planet's orbit acts as the playfield, filled with asteroids and enemies for the player to destroy. In the main arcade mode there are 5 planets, consisting of 5 phases each. At the end of each planet the player encounters a boss.
The ship has several different weapons, smart bombs, a temporary shield, and a speed boost system. The ship has two projectile weapons of opposite polarities (Ice and Fire) that can be switched between on-the-fly. While one is effective against a certain type of enemy, it can be almost useless against another so players must quickly adapt to situations, constantly choosing which weapon to use against what. Each weapon can be powered-up over the course of the game by collecting tokens (dropped onto orbit from destroyed enemy craft/asteroids). The ship is also able to collect and deploy smart bombs, which usually clear most of the playfield. When deploying a smart bomb players can choose the desired effect - Black Hole, Missile Strike, or EMP bomb. PlayStation Vita's touchscreen controls Missile Strike, rear touch opens Black Hole, and motion control (shaking) deploys the EMP Bomb.
Other unique features of Super Stardust Delta are that the view can be tilted to see round the planet, and the ship's speed boost system has a slo-mo feature that enables players to navigate the ship with more precision while boosting. Super Stardust Delta also has more game modes than any of the preceding titles in the series - 11 unique modes all in all, each with its own unique challenges and scenarios. The different game modes are "Arcade", "Planets", "Endless", "Bomber", "Impact", "Twin-Gun", "Crush!", "Disc Slide", "Orbit Bomber", "Rock & Roll", and "Trucker". The main game modes have three difficulty levels to choose from; "Casual", "Normal", or "Hardcore". Many of the game modes let players choose whether to play the game with the "Delta" or "Pure" control configuration. "Delta" configuration allows gameplay with new features, with players using the touchscreen, motion controls, as well as button controls to play the game, enabling the Black Hole and Missile Strike smart bombs, as well as the speed boost getting the slo-mo feature. "Pure" configuration features simple button controls only, doing away with the Black Hole, Missile Strike and the speed boost's slo-mo feature.
Super Stardust Delta boasts global leaderboards via PlayStation Network.
The problems to overcome during the development of the game were basically two: rendering performance on GPU and simulation on CPU. Managing those two problems allowed the game to run steadily at 60 fps. To deal with the rendering, Housemarque optimized the shaders to be as light as possible, and came up with quite creative solutions for some effects. For example, the Black Hole effect was embedded in the same pixel shader as the rendering for the "game grid" (planet orbit/playfield), so the pixel power from the GPU could be utilized more efficiently.
To solve the CPU challenge, Housemarque made a totally new custom gameplay architecture, and all gameplay code was made to run multithreaded, utilizing a fiber based system to switch the active simulation tasks and make sure that all cores were fully utilized. Separating the rendering and gameplay this way, means that in Super Stardust Delta most CPU cores are calculating the collisions/frame updates for the whole frame duration.
A downloadable content (DLC) pack was available on launch day on the PlayStation Network. The "Blast Pack" gives players the following four new game modes. "Endless" puts players' skills to the ultimate test as they battle ever-increasing waves of enemies and asteroids. "Bomber" tests how long players can survive when armed only with bombs and no other weapons. "Impact" tests how long players can keep their boost up - boosting through objects increases the boost meter. In "Twin-Gun" mode the player's ship has not just one but two cannons they can control simultaneously using the control sticks, motion controls are used for steering.
The game boasts four different soundtracks - three of which are made by Ari Pulkkinen, who also provided the soundtracks for Super Stardust HD and Super Stardust Portable. The soundtracks are "Delta" (the new PlayStation Vita soundtrack), "Arcade" (original Super Stardust HD soundtrack), "Orchestral" (a DLC soundtrack for Super Stardust HD), and "Retro" (old retro music from Stardust games of the 90's - composed by Risto Vuori).
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