I’ve never been much for vertical shooters. Unless you count Galaga amongst them (and you really shouldn’t), there have been very few that clicked with me.
Maybe just Ikaruga.
With that in mind, I approached Starseed with some trepidation. The game was introduced to me by its creator, Shane McCafferty, who — full disclosure — frequents the same coworking space I do. I’ve played and enjoyed some of his previous work, including the truly unique WordForward, and was inevitably curious to hear about what he was working on next.
The short answer is “Uridium,” but it would be hard to make that seeing as somebody else had already made it 20 years earlier. Still, like any good developer, McCafferty isn’t afraid to mine his childhood passions for future inspiration. He had always wanted to make a shooter, but refused to do so unless he could get it right.
After playing around with an early build, Starseed easily meets the high standard Shane has set for himself.
“I worked for ages on the control,” McCafferty told the TouchArcade forums earlier this year. “The game was JUST a ship on a blank screen for weeks until it felt right.”
Each level takes place in three stages; the approach on a space station (which plays very much like a standard shooter), the attack on the station (which had previously appeared rotating in the background), and the escape from the now-destroyed station’s debris.
The ship itself (dubbed, as you can probably guess, “Starseed”) is organic in nature. As you progress through the game the ship changes shape and weapons, evolving stage after stage.
Talking with Shane, we chuckle about how the game accidentally feels Canadian, sharing its name with a hit single by Our Lady Peace — a one-time chart-topping Canadian band those of you outside of our borders have probably never heard of. But while the game’s title might be a funny coincidence, McCafferty’s love of music shines through in Starseed. Not just in its great soundtrack, but also because all of the space stations you’ll attack are named after metal bands.
Even if Shane’s Starseed doesn’t feel quite as Canadian as its coincidental namesake, it does feel distinctly retro. This is his love letter to Uridium. If you have fond memories of that era of vertical shooter and want to see how smoothly it translates to a mobile device, you won’t have too long to wait. Starseed will be available on iOS this summer.