This horizontal shooter features more than a few gimmicks. The exact figure is up for debate – some are more predominant than others, while shoot’em up veterans may feel like some of its ideas are on the verge of becoming commonplace within the genre.
We can probably all agree that the ability to concentrate fire at a sacrifice of speed is a gimmick; the kind you may expect to find in a typical Japanese shooter. It’s an ability that gives you that extra burst of firepower, used only during those fleeting moments when you aren’t being pelted with bullets. Although it vastly reduces manoeuvrability it can get you out of many sticky situations, requiring skill to use effectively.
Alternatively, there’s a laser beam weapon that eats into limited energy reserves, best used for dealing damage to large targets.
Missions roll out in a modern, non-linear fashion, using a not particularly gimmicky 3D cockpit view as a mission select screen. Dialogue between crewmates takes place here, filling in the story. The titular star is the last sun in the galaxy, now under threat from an alien scourge out to control its power. You’re the last line of defence – a trio of ships with slightly varying stats, out to stop an entire galactic army.
Ship stats improve after every mission, dolled at random by ‘re-rolling’ available options before a mission starts. This gives Final Star a very slight RPG slant. Gold and scrap metal can also be used to bolster armour and gain new weapons – improvements that moderately increase chances of success.
Missions can be played in any order, with three or four of varying difficulty usually available. There are also repeater missions which bestow great rewards but become more difficult after every successful run.
Without a doubt, the 3D cockpit is home to the biggest gimmick of all – a puzzle mini-game, entailing matching up identical gems while keeping skull icons apart. It’s a place to grind for new gear, essentially, awarding one new upgrade per stage. It proves to be a slow-burning affair that couldn’t ever hope to stand on its own, but it still acts as a decent distraction.