Life has never been easy for the Uchujin. First they spend their lives underground, and now they find themselves trapped in outer space! It’s up to you and your team of space-faring rescue heroes to bring these poor little critters home. Based on an obscure arcade title from 2002, Star Trigon brings all the fun and challenge of this intergalactic rescue operation to your home computer.
The king of the Uchujin has just moved into a new castle and is throwing a palace-warming party. Things got a little out of hand (like palace-warming parties often do), a few accidents occurred, and the next thing you know the king’s family and friends have been scattered across the universe. Luckily the king’s friend Dr. Z has invented the Star Trigon Action Rescue Net, or S.T.A.R. Net for short. His team is set to take to space, with you on point, to rescue all of the lost Uchujin!
The gameplay in Star Trigon is deceptively simple and delightfully original. Only one button is required to play. Your hero will start the game orbiting a small planet. Press the button and he’ll exit that planet’s orbit, moving in a straight line. Your goal is to aim him into another planets orbit. Successfully moving from planet to planet will create single lines that join them. Join three in a triangle pattern, and you’ll create a net. The big picture? Create nets around the floating uchujin to rescue them.
Of course, like all games that are deceptively simple to learn, there’s a good deal of challenge in there to master. At first, getting the timing right takes a bit of work. You’ll find yourself flying off into the vastness of space for the first little while as you’re finding your groove. Once you’ve mastered that, the levels become larger, the uchujin more numerous. Eventually they even begin moving and travelling by ship, making it harder to save them with your stationary nets. Other factors, like a variety of characters with different play quirks, and nets disintegrating when not expanded, will keep you on your toes as you progress through the game.
Star Trigon was developed by the same team as the adorable arcade classic Mr. Driller, and a lot of that personality shines through. The game even seems to be a part of that universe, as both Susumu Hori (the lead character from Mr. Driller) and Taizo Hori (the lead character from Dig Dug) are both available as playable characters later in the game. But while their more popular title Mr. Driller suffered from repetitive gameplay, Star Trigon has done an amazing job of keeping things fresh despite using a single gameplay mechanic.
In addition to the evolving challenge, the adventure mode is frequently broken up by mini-games that will see you doing everything from hopping planet-to-planet on a candy hunt to intricately devised maps to clear the uchujin from. This, combined with a set of achievments to unlock as you progress through the game, will keep you coming back time and again. Thankfully there’s a fair bit of game here, and with the level of challenge in the later levels it may take you awhile to complete.
While the gameplay was fantastic, there were a few design choices that made the game feel like a chore at times. The text speed during the story segments was mind-bogglingly slow. You’d need the patience of a saint to want to sit through these and actually follow the story. I had that patience, and I’ll let you know right now it’s not worth it. They story is light and fluffy and just enough to tie things together. If you could have enjoyed it at a proper pace, it would have been a fine fit. Instead you’ll likely find yourself hitting that one button and getting right back into the action.
But even that’s not as easy as it should be. Every time you die, the level needs to cycle through a "Mission Failed/Mission Starting" sequence that’s a needless waste of time. Instead of getting back to the game in five seconds, you’ll be waiting 15. It may not seem like that big a difference, but when you’re losing lives frequently in the higher levels it really gets the blood boiling.
It’s really quite a shame. If it wasn’t for these few poor design choices that keep the framing around the game from being as fast as the action in it, Star Trigon could very well be one of the best arcade downloads of the year. It has a simple concept that anyone can understand, an incredible level of challenge that even the most seasoned pros will appreciate, and an original concept that’s just as fun as it sounds.
For similar games, try Out of Your Mind.