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Sigma Star Saga

Score: 88%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Namco
Developer: Way Forward Technologies
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ RPG/ Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Sigma Star Saga takes a radically different approach to both the Action-RPG and Space Shooter genres. This game seems to blend the two seemingly different gaming styles in a manner that should be fun for fans of either game type.

Sigma Star Saga's shooter game mode uses a classic feeling side-scrolling style where you zip through the level shooting everything that moves. This style reminded me of older games like the classic R-Type series. When not in your ship, Sigma Star uses large, highly detailed and anime-styled characters in an isometric universe of corridors and tunnels. As you progress through the game and meet new people, it is easy to notice differences between the main characters because of the amount of detail that went into each model. These differences range from the color and styles of the alien uniforms to the character's gender and even noticeable differences in their weight. Though the game uses a classic tried-and-true perspective, the characters and worlds are large enough to use all of the GBA's 2D rendering power.

The musical score and sound effects also help to bring this game to life. While roaming around the world away from your alien space craft, the subdued music helps you to concentrate on whatever quest or goals you happen to be taking part of. When you are beamed aboard your ship, however, the music ramps up and gets your heart racing as you dodge enemy fire and larger ships. The various weapons' fire and other sound effects also keep your ears busy and fit the game's style very well.


Gameplay:

Sigma Star Saga takes place in the distant future when the human race is under attack by an alien force. As Ian Recker, you are one of the top human pilots and the leader of the Sigma Star attack force. Unfortunately, the planetary defense isn't going all that well.

Recker is called into his Superior's office and is told that they have received intelligence laying out the Krill's future invasion plans, though the details are very sketchy. Recker must infiltrate the alien organization and find out which six planets the Krill need to take control of in order to finish their invasion. In a classic and standard approach, Recker is accused of being a traitor, thrown in prison and then gets recruited by the enemy (apparently the Krill haven't watched a lot of human TV or movies).

Early in your employ of the enemy, you are given a parasitic suit. This armor learns and grows as you fight. You are also assigned a space ship that also grows as you gain experience. Now you must work your way up the Krill ranks in order to stop their final assault on the human race.

This game is split into two modes, walking and flying. The walking gameplay has you roaming through hallways, caves, jungles and other areas talking to people or shooting bad guys (whether that happens to be Krill or human is a line that gets blurry from time to time). The flying aspect of Sigma Star Saga has you in control of either your ship or one of the ships that randomly beam you aboard. You will then fly through enemy infested areas (in a side-scrolling fashion) shooting lasers or dropping bombs on pretty much anything that moves. Both of these modes add experience to you and your ship. With this experience, you gain better health and a wider selection of weapon parts (more on weapon parts in the Game Mechanics section).

You will be faced with many choices during your mission. Do you trust your CO? Are the Krill as bad as they seem? What happens if you follow their orders completely? Even though you can't choose to not take the mission, all of your choices from that point on will effect how the game plays out, how quickly you rise in ranks and whether or not you've actually become a turn-coat.


Difficulty:

Sigma Star Saga is about average on the difficulty meter. As you progress through the game, you will encounter tougher and tougher baddies (both on land and in the air), but because it is RPG based, your skills and available weapons will grow and should keep you at par with (if not better than) your enemies. The ability to customize your own ship cannons is a big help when going up against some of the bigger baddies because certain combinations are better against certain ships than others.

Game Mechanics:

The most notable mechanic of Sigma Star Saga is its blending of the RPG and Space-Shooter genres. As you move through the various Krill worlds and gain experience, it isn't just your character's abilities that grow, but also your ship's capabilities. The more you play, the more weapon parts you earn and thus the more combinations of weapons you can use.

The gun parts come in three flavors: Cannon Types, Bullet Types and Impact Types. The Cannon Type describes what happens to the projectile when it leaves the ship. Does it scatter all around the screen or follow a straight line? The Bullet Type typically describes how much damage the weapon will do, while the Impact Type can do everything from shatter into other bullets, form walls or create shock waves. With 20 - 30 different possible options for each type, you have more than 15,000 combinations of weapons to help you save the Earth from the Krill invasion.

Followers of RPG's and shooters will have a hard time putting this game down and will find that it definitely deserves to be in their game library. If you are a fan of only one aspect of this game, then you might want to rent it first and see if it is something you will like. As for the rest of you, it might still be worth a rent just to see.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Windows Astral Masters Nintendo DS Animaniacs: Lights, Camera, Action!

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated