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PSP Minis were kind of dead on arrival. iTunes has them beat in just about every respect: lower price points, a wider variety of genres, and most importantly, the fact that there are more iTunes games released in one day than there are currently on the minis marketplace in total.

Can Stellar Attack’s old school charm bring PSP Minis back from the dead?

By combining puzzle elements of games like Zuma and old school shooter gameplay from Sinistar, Stellar Attack does a mighty fine job of revitalizing some old school spirit that the minis market desperately needs.

The premise is fairly simple – each level features at least one giant heat-seeking turret hell-bent on your destruction, and it’s your job to blast away color coded spheres to get to it. Each button is mapped to a corresponding color, which sounds pretty simple at first, until you add in the fact that there are both powerups and combos. As you can see in the accompanying screenshots, some spheres have special powerups inside of them that can help you on your quest to destroy the evil turrets.

If you hit the spheres with the perfect amount of shots (no misses or wrong colors), you can multiply your score. There are three game types: Modern (a gametype that gives you one life, but gives you a craft with a Halo/FPS style recharging shield), Core (lives are earned old school points style), and Attack (which features a timer that depletes with deaths and increases with victories). I really enjoy the Modern gametype – it really feels challenging and adds a fair sense of  desperation – unlike some shooters of old that dump you like a wet dish towel after getting hit once.

Stellar Attack features six different ships, which can feature one of two different control schemes. Out of both the Vector (tank controls) and Direct (move where you press) types, I most certainly prefer Direct. There’s something about a single analog stick control system that makes non-traditional controls completely unappealing – especially when accompanied by the game’s odd sense of inertia.

The firing controls also take some getting used to. As previously mentioned, each sphere must be vanquished with the proper colored beam – the triangle button is green, the circle button is red, the x button is blue, and the square button is yellow.

Now, I don’t think I’m alone in saying this, but the original Playstation has had the “green, red, blue, purple” color scheme for its controls for years now – why not have square shoot purple beams, and make everything a lot simpler? Perhaps it was an aesthetic choice, as the turrets are purple, but still.

Barring some confusing controls (where the PSP itself is partially to blame), Stellar Attack is worth the $4.99 asking price, provided you enjoy old school style shooters. I really enjoyed the puzzle elements featured in the game, and the production values are extremely high in quality when compared to the rest of the PSP Minis market.

Gamer Limit gives Stellar Attack an 7.5 out of 10.

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