There was a short time there when I’d go into a GameStop, swing by the Nintendo 3DS section, ignore all the 3DS titles in their big and bright white boxes, and start sifting through the shelves with countless envelopes that only contained DS games–no box, no manual, just a loose cartridge. These were often extremely cheap, usually a couple bucks at most, and my true goal was to find a copy of Suikoden Tierkreis, but alas that hasn’t happened yet. Still, I’d grab anything that looked remotely interesting, and so I have a strange conglomeration of DS games in a Ziploc bag. Every now and then, I pluck one out and give it a try, for better or for worse, which brings us to The Legendary Starfy.
The Legendary Starfy series are platformers, focusing more on swimming than running and jumping around. That makes sense when you consider you are playing as a starfish. Still, you do go on land, and the controls are par for the course when it comes to running, jumping, and landing on platforms. However, when in the water, players can only move Starfy around using the control pad alone; if you want to make Starfy swim faster–and who doesn’t?–you must hold the B button down. The games are usually composed of multiple stages or worlds, with each stage split up into four sub-stages. Boss characters are found at the end of each world’s final sub-stage, and most of the other sub-stages are centered around retrieving a lost or stolen item for another character.
The Legendary Starfy is essentially an aquatic spin on Kirby, mixing up a lot of the same mechanisms and gameplay styles as Nintendo’s pink puff-ball, as well as throwing in other classic gaming influences for good measure. The game is bright and colorful, bouncy as heck, friendly, reminding me of things like Plok for the SNES and Ristar for the Sega Genesis, and those are good things. The game itself definitely feels targeted at a younger audience, and that’s okay; I’m not against a platformer that provides a lighter challenge–sorry, Celeste fans–interested more in telling a zany, fast-moving story. There’s quite a lot of chatting to read too, as Starfy has many friends, and they like talking.
Let’s talk about that story for a moment. Starfy ends up accompanying a shape-shifting space rabbit on his quest to recover pieces of his crystal spaceship, along with his memory in the process. This leads to a hodgepodge of silly or simply unexpected elements, such as transforming into a fire-breathing dragon or squawking chicken, as well as the ability to swim upwards through rainbows and giant raindrops. Along the way, he’ll meet lots of friends and foes, and even do side quests for some of them, like find red pearls for Herman or racing against Fork. Your in-game case lets you review all this, and there’s also a journal to read, as well as The Moe Show, a talk show hosted by a clam. Yeah, you heard me. Plenty of other things to poke at too, it’s brimming with extra content.
Evidently, The Legendary Starfy is pretty big in Japan, with plenty of merchandise to go around for the little yellow dude in Japanese retail stores, such as plush dolls, pencils, birthday balloons, and casino cards. It only came over to North America in the form of the fifth game. Anyways, Densetsu no Stafy is a manga series produced by Shogakukan and Nintendo, and it is based on the game series, specifically the first and second titles. Oh, and this little starfish shines bright elsewhere, showing up in games like Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga, Super Princess Peach, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and an unlockable costume in Super Mario Maker.
I do like dressing Starfy up in different costumes–right now he’s rocking a rubber-ducky ring and sunglasses–but I do wish that these outfits were reflected in the main game’s sprite, not just the 3D model section. Oh well. Maybe one day we’ll see this star-shaped echinoderm on the Nintendo Switch, not just in Japan, but here in North America too. I think he’s up for another adventure.