GBA REVIEW: SIGMA STAR SAGA

Did you ever have a spinach and tobacco ice cream sandwich? Probably not, but at least you will admit that it's different. Being different doesn't necessarily mean good. Take me for instance; people tell me that I'm different - but I'm no good. Many of those people aren't alive now but that's beside the point.

Take Sigma Star Saga (dig the alliteration), it dares to be different but it doesn't take it much further. Just forcing a few genres together, in this case space shooting and RPG, doesn't guarantee success. The gameplay must be carefully processed and blended in such a way that we're left with what feels like one new hybrid genre. Like a choir, you want to hear all of the voices mixed together not a bunch of individual tones. Okay, who in their right mind wants to hear a choir other than in the soundtrack of a horror movie?

SSS combines side-scrolling shooting with RPG elements. Both elements occur separately as you toggle between them throughout the game. The game goes on way too long and doesn't cover much new ground. The only thing that breaks the repetition is the going back and forth between genres, which is basically the source of the repetition in the first place. I don't know if you call this a Catch 22, a paradox, or if it's a version of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principal. See, I don't have to be smart if I'm different.

I want you to contemplate one thing while you're reading the rest of this review: If it weren't for subatomic particles, there would never have been a Jerry Lewis.

Ian Recker takes center stage in this drama. He's enlisted to fight an alien race know as the Krill before they destroy six human-inhabited planets in the galaxy. As you probably already can guess, one of the preferred methods of combat is space shooting which takes place in a side-scrolling format. Piloting a space ship you will be able to upgrade weapons, armor and performance by shooting down enemies and collecting the experience bubbles they leave behind. There is lots and lots of shooting, most of which can't be avoided and you'll also have plenty of backtracking to do as you follow the storyline in an effort to complete your objectives.

The other method of defeating the enemy is to infiltrate them. Through interaction and exploration you will discover their secrets and send that information back to the Federation. You do this by donning a parasitic style of body armor that is composed of organic matter. It not only provides protection but it helps to disguise you from the Krill.

The shooting is fun but it goes on too long. Eventually you can level your ship up to the point of invincibility thereby taking the basic challenge out of the game. Until you reach that point however you will want to collect "Gun Data" which are essentially power-ups that can be combined with other such data to upgrade your capabilities in different ways depending on how you combine them. You can increase the power and speed of your cannon and even earn double the amount of experience points for each shot. Experimenting with the different combinations of Gun Data is arguably the most addictive aspect of the gameplay.

Using an anime style, the graphics are large and well defined. They aren't Earth-shattering but they get the job done. The enemy appears as detailed as blips on a radar screen during the shooting segments. The bosses help to make up for the overall lack of detail with larger, more imaginative crafts. Certain characters, backgrounds and textures repeat after a while as does the music. This game could have easily been cut in half, and should have been to maintain whatever level of quality that this game possesses. Once you play through it there's little incentive to replay it. The lack of a multi-player mode relegates SSS to the rental category.

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System: GBA
Dev: WayForward
Pub: Namco
Release: Aug 2005
Players: 1
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
2.5
GRAPHICS
2.5
CONTROL
4.0
MUSIC/FX
2.0
VALUE
1.0