Super Stardust Delta

I've always thought about the various Stardust titles more as tech demos than games.

Back in the Amiga days of 1993, the series was all about futile console one-upmanship, while its belated PlayStation 3 rebirth was merely an excuse to show off a shiny new 3D telly.

But when it came to seriously playing, Housemarque's Asteroids-on-steroids always veered a little close to hardcore brutality for my liking, and I never felt compelled to break through the pain barrier in the way that I did with, say, Geometry Wars.

With Super Stardust Delta appearing in the PS Vita launch line-up, it feels like the Finnish veteran has finally made the series fully accessible to mere mortals who fancy a quick twin-stick retro blast. At the same time it fully caters to those of a more masochistic bent.

Real space

This instant accessibility not only helps to ease you through the basics, but it effectively means you'll be ready to take off your casual training wheels and experience the real Super Stardust Delta when you're good and ready.

As with the slick PS3 remake, Super Stardust Delta's 'destroy all the asteroids' premise couldn't be much simpler, with left stick letting you steer and right for letting you shoot. You can alternate between your fire and ice weapons with the R button, or boost with the L button.

Beyond that, you can rely on good old fashioned buttons to deploy your smart bomb, or opt for the new Delta controls and give your Vita a satisfying jolt when you're in a tight spot. Exclusive to the Delta system is a Black Hole ability, where you touch the back of the device to pull enemies into a deadly vortex of doom.

Within a few rounds, the gloves are off, the screen soon filling with a hellish onslaught of space debris and determined sentries keen on ending your cosmic career.

As you might expect, the battle to stay alive depends on good old fashioned skill (luck) and judicious use of power-ups as you inch towards the climactic boss battle at the end of each planet's five stages.

Like everything on the Vita, the visuals are truly PS3 quality, with a rock solid frame-rate even when utter chaos is ensuing. It might be a resolutely retro game at its core, but that doesn't stop it from being a technical showcase in its own right.

Tilt to live

With only five planets to conquer, Super Stardust Delta doesn't exactly outstay its welcome, but with five excellent mini-games to unlock and online leaderboard bragging rights to shoot for it's the kind of title you'll come back to repeatedly.

Indeed, there's every chance you'll be obsessing over the tilt-based Rock & Roll mode, or delicately avoiding the red enemies in the touch-based Disc Slide.

Crush! mode, meanwhile, experiments with innovative dual touch panel mechanics, by letting you literally squish opponents, while Orbit Bomber has a less than successful stab at shoehorning gyroscopic controls into a basic 'protect the planet' blasting mission.

When Super Stardust Delta isn't trying too hard to show off the Vita's many control options, you're left with a supremely polished twin-stick retro shooter with stunning visual, and at a price that makes it hard to resist.

Super Stardust Delta

Housemarque proves what a great home the Vita is for twin-stick shooting thrills with this enduring classic
Kristan Reed
Kristan Reed
There's no such thing as 'not enough time' in Kristan's world. Despite the former Eurogamer editor claiming the world record for the most number of game reviews written before going insane, he manages to continue to squeeze in parallel obsessions with obscure bands, Norwich City FC, and moody episodic TV shows. He might even read a book if threatened by his girlfriend.