The Stardust series began life on the Amiga back in 1993, long lying dormant until the 2007 reboot Super Stardust HD hit PlayStation 3 consoles. Super Stardust Ultra brought the arcade fun of HD over to the PS4 last year, and it’s now been ported once more to implement PlayStation VR functionality. Though the result is the most involving Super Stardust experience yet, it’s hard to get excited about a game that’s already well and truly done the rounds.
Invasion mode commendably maintains the fundamentals found in the core game, smoothly transitioning genres to place you in the first-person cockpit of a hover tank.
Whilst it’s cool to see asteroids jettisoned into your peripheral vision from all directions, and look deep into the vastness of space, VR is far from integral to the bulk of Super Stardust Ultra (though that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering its origins). Oddly, for a pretty sedentary experience, the tracking can drift off centre and you’ll occasionally need to turn in order to keep up with the action. Whilst this wasn’t a major issue for us, thanks to playing in a handy swivel chair, if your seat is fixed, you may find yourself needing to reset your position often.
Luckily, no such issues persist with the new Invasion mode. Though, unfortunately, despite being the premier reason to own this version, it plays a sad second fiddle. Invasion commendably maintains the fundamentals found in the core game, smoothly transitioning genres to place you in the first-person cockpit of a hover tank to resume the fight at ground level.
It’s brilliantly responsive to control with the DualShock 4, thanks largely to PSVR’s compulsory high frame rates. Combine accurate, head tracked aiming and you’ll soon be whipping around the small arena painting airborne targets for homing missiles, keeping ground troops in your gaze to maintain automatic weapon fire, deploying EMPs and more - all whilst feeling like a multitasking badass.
The combination can get a tad intense, however, which can lead to feelings of nausea. Obviously comfort will differ from person to person, but the effects were far from ghastly, allowing us to finish Invasion on the initial sitting. Not that there’s an alternative to powering through it in a single sitting, mind, as you can’t save your place and come back later. Whilst the option would’ve been a pleasant quality of life feature - especially when breaks are encouraged, sternly so if you’re feeling discomfort - the fact it can be completed well within the hour mostly excuses its absence.
If you're looking for a solid game that would stand firm in the absence of virtual reality, Super Stardust Ultra VR has your back. If you're looking for something to showcase your new tech, which you probably are at this point, it’ll leave you wanting. That fact immediately devalues the proposition to existing fans of the series, though if you’re new, there are worse ways to invest the budget asking price.