Eastasiasoft continue to supports porting a variety of shoot em ups, bringing cheaper arcade games to new audiences. Some work better than others but Wings of Bluestar is one of the best ones yet, providing multiple ways to play its decent game mechanics. My recommendation comes with a massive caveat, which I’ll get to but the game is a joy to play when it firing on all cylinders.
Wings of Bluestar has two characters with their own ships and way of playing. Zarak has a ship with a main gun and the ability to add two additional lasers onto your ship. These fire heavy damage directly ahead and whilst the main gun can be upgraded to add more bullets and a wider spread, Zarak is all about attacking. Aya doesn’t have lasers. Instead she has rotatable additional guns which means you have less power but 16 directional coverage. You can shoot behind, above and below whilst Zarak needs to be quickly moved into position. Aya also comes with a shield that can take damage from bullets hitting her face on. They both offer very distinctive playstyles. On easy mode Zarak is better as he just mows everything down. Medium, hard and hardest modes saw me gravitate to Aya though because many levels have descents and I wanted to shoot below me.
The game comes with 8 levels full of different enemies and some lovely background animations. It feels like you are in an anime at times and the mechanoid art direction of everything is chunky but consistent. Bosses are much more bullet hell (again, points for Aya) and this is where your special weapon can be helpful to for smashing through bullets, turning them into points. Bosses have patterns and whilst they aren’t the biggest challenges out there, do switch things up a bit. Game overs will come often though as you start with 3 lives and 3 credits. This can be expanded in the shop where risk stars that you collect in game as currency can be spent for additional credits. I was completing the game at 8 credits but it felt like you could go beyond that. Also unlockable were boss rush mode, a sound test mode and a whole behind the scenes art gallery. There is a lot of love that’s gone into Wings of Bluestar and whilst I didn’t test the 2 player mode personally, the fact there is a mode is great too.
With my PS4 and PS5 versions there is a rather huge bug though. When you first play the game, everything is fine but whenever you die and start a new game, Wings of Bluestar cannot cope. It suddenly slows into a Matrix slow motion as if the game is confused and the entire game runs at less than half speed. Your movements, the bullets, the enemies – everything. It’s all in the slow motion. I thought I’d knocked a setting or something and in the end rebooted the game and it was fine until I died, started a new game and the same thing happened. This issue affects both PS4 and PS5 versions and renders it not unplayable but certainly not as intended. What is even more odd is that from stage 4 onwards, the game magically wakes up again and reverts back to normal speed. Until this is fixed I recommend closing down the game after every single run but its mighty annoying and needs a patch.
It is a shame that the technical issues cause such a dramatic effect as if that can be fixed there is a decent shoot em up here ready to be recommended. 8 stages, 4 difficulties, co-op, arcade and story mode (with some awful translation to be fair) are all here with unlockables to find. It’ll keep you going for a good few hours. Fans of R-Type will enjoy this R-Type lite. It just needs that patch.
Review copy provided by Eastasiasoft. PS4 and PS5 versions tested.
Wings of Bluestar
The second playthrough slowdown issue aside, there is a very good shoot em up here to enjoy.
Each characters ship plays differently, offering replayability.
Plenty of stages and modes to enjoy.
Decent graphics and music with plenty of unlockables to explore them.
Second playthrough slowdown reduces the game to half speed, making it a very odd experience.
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