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Alternative Names

Densetsu no Stafy: Taiketsu! Dire Kaizokudan

伝説のスタフィー たいけつ! ダイール海賊団


TOSE Software



Release Dates

06/08/09 Nintendo
07/10/08 Nintendo
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Owners: 52
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Review: The Legendary Starfy

By DKII 29th Jul 2009 | 3,708 views 

Nintendo finally brings over its previously Japan-only platformer series, now in its fifth iteration.

The Legendary Starfy is the fifth game in a Nintendo-published platformer series that, until now, has not seen release outside of Japan. Developed by Tose, the Starfy series started on the Game Boy Advance in 2002 (after a cancelled Game Boy Color prototype) but until the series' fifth entry, Nintendo of America had always declined localization due to the series being "too Japanese".

The resulting localization has turned out a simple, but fun, platformer that is a blend of "very Japanese" and "Saturday morning kids' cartoon". Players take control of Starfy, now the legendary hero of Pufftop Kingdom after having saved it several times before. Starfy is, to put it simply, a big yellow starfish, and much of the platforming involves swimming around underwater. In The Legendary Starfy, the hero is snoozing away when a space bunny (astronaut outfit and all) crashes through the roof, chased by some shadowy figures, before falling down to earth. Starfy, being the hero and all, chases down after him, accompanied by his best friend, Moe the clam.

The story isn't very important for this type of game, but it might grate on some people in how much it oozes in charm and happiness. Bad things don't really happen, and even the nominal front-line bad guys aren't really bad people. The story is delivered primarily with cut scenes between stages, told in a lightly-animated comic-book style that's nice to watch but can drag on a bit too long at some parts. Some of the scenes are also repeated exactly later in the game as well. You'll also have some light dialogue when you encounter characters inside the levels, and can collect journal entries for some additional flavor, text, and personality development. There are some nice twists in the plot near the very end of the game.

While the narrative might not be very important for a platformer, the gameplay is just the opposite. While it starts off very simple and takes a long time to develop, by the end of the game you have a fun exploration experience. Most of your time is spent underwater, where you hold B and use the D-pad to swim quickly, and press Y to do a star spin to take out enemies and obstacles (but if you spin too many times in a row, you'll get dizzy and become motionless and vulnerable for several seconds). With mostly-free movement in the 2D plane and a generously large life meter, enemies become more obstacles than actual threats in the water, with a couple of late-game exceptions. The addition of currents that restrict your movement, destructible walls hiding secrets, and some one-off gimmicks such as knocking a boulder around to break down barriers adds some variety to the relatively simple formula.

Outside the water, Starfy becomes a bit less graceful, as one might expect of a starfish. Walking is painfully slow, but you can hold Y to dash - and see an amusing eyes-bugging-out animation at the same time - and press B to jump. Jumping while dashing, as is the norm in the genre, gets you a bit more height overall. As while swimming, pressing Y still performs a Star Spin, whether you're running along the ground or jumping to attack airborne enemies. Throughout the course of the game you'll unlock some new airborne abilities, including a double-jump, a slow-fall float, and a ground smash. The air-based platforming controls are a bit looser and more cumbersome than the water-based gameplay, but there's also a lot more depth to the level design and puzzle solving when out of the water.

As you progress through the game, you'll earn four transformations that turn you into a powered-up animal for certain segments of the game. The first one you'll come across is the fire-breathing dragon, which is good for destroying things but doesn't handle running and jumping very well. Another is the seal, which comes equipped with a powerful dash in which it turns into an ice spike. There's also a chicken that lets out a sonic scream, and a ghost that can pass through spikes and lay out flame-bombs to defeat enemies. However, since each of these special transformations is given to you for the portions of levels where you need it, and goes away once that segment is completed, they end up feeling like more of a side activity than a real power-up.

You start off with five hearts, and generally will lose one heart whenever you touch an enemy without spinning into it or touch some environmental feature that you might expect to cause damage (like a lava geyser). Pearls strewn throughout the level will not only refill your hearts, but they also act as the in-game currency. The pearls are mainly used to purchase new costumes that you can put on Starfy (which is only visible in a 3D model at the top of the pause screen and has no gameplay effects).

The levels are broken up into eight distinct themed stages in the main game, each with four main levels and three secret ones. You'll have your typical fire/ice/air themed stages, as well as a space theme and a sunken ghost ship, among others. The stages generally have their own gameplay gimmicks, such as the sky stage where you'll find yourself swimming through rainbows. Each level has a couple of secret treasure chests to find, which can contain heart gems (combine three to raise your maximum number of hearts by one), costume pieces, and journal entries. There are 102 chests in all throughout the game, though finding all of them does not seem to confer any special reward or bonus. In addition to the treasure chests, three levels in each stage contain a "star door" which has a quick microgame to be completed - win a race, collect pearls, beat some enemies within a time limit, and lots more. Successful completion of the task will unlock one of the stage's three hidden levels, each with their own allotment of treasure chests to find. These microgames are actually a fun diversion from the main game, and don't last too long as to detract from the overall experience. Some of the secrets can't be found until you earn abilities from later in the game, requiring a small amount of backtracking.

There are a lot of additional modes that have been slowly added to the series with each new iteration.  New to this game is a limited form of local cooperative play. In boss fights and some of the levels, you can connect wirelessly to another DS and play cooperatively, with the second player controlling the pink starfish sister Starly - only one copy of the game required. Starly has some unique moves - the ability to crawl, spin through low passageways and do wall jumps - but also can't pull off most of Starfy's moves. This local co-op is pretty limited, but still fun where it exists and is completely unnecessary for unlocking anything in the game - you just have an extra ally for defeating enemies and the ability to collect some extra pearls. The main downside is that a single player cannot choose to play as Starly in these sequences - it is always the DS being invited to play who controls Starly.

Completing the game's main storyline will unlock a ninth stage, where you play as Starly up in Pufftop Kingdom, defending it from the shadowy invaders who are looking for Starfy and the space bunny. These levels are fun, but without any chests to find or secret levels to unlock, the level design is pretty linear and even easier than the regular levels. You'll also get a toy machine - you can put in a few pearls and unlock a random character/enemy catalog entry - and a boss speed battle, where you take on all of the game's bosses in sequence in a time trial. Completing this trial in under nine minutes or so - a rather difficult task, especially compared to the ease of the rest of the game - will unlock a 10th stage. This final stage contains a series of cramp-inducing speed runs through new levels, many of which require near-perfect platforming precision at parts in order to exceed the goal times. Finishing all six speed runs in the required times unlocks a difficult new final boss, though there's no reward for defeating it.

You can unlock five minigames during your play as well, which can be played alone against computer-controlled opponents or wirelessly with up to four players. These minigames are pretty shallow and not much fun overall - taking only a minute or so for each without any reward or carryover to the next minigame - but they aren't a large focus of the game and can be pretty much ignored if desired. There are a number of extras accessible from the main menu in the game as well, such as Moe's talk show (which feeds you a few extra lines of dialogue, depending on how far along you are in the game), but these don't add very much entertainment value and have no impact on the rest of the game.

The visual presentation is mostly a great-looking 2D art style, with some occassional 3D elements thrown in. The character design is very anime-like for the characters, and the level backgrounds and objects have a cartoonish-look that doesn't get too outlandish. The music is pretty generic - it doesn't really stand out but doesn't get annoying or grating either. However the same cannot be said for the sound effects which, while very sharp and effective at punctuating the action, can also be annoying and too high-pitched at times. Overall, the presentation really just screams "for kids" rather than the "for everyone" that Nintendo usually tries for. There's also one annoying flaw in the game design when swimming around underwater, as when you swim downward your character is placed too close to the bottom of the screen, making it difficult to spot upcoming enemies (the same problem does not exist when moving in any other direction). Fortunately, the game is easy enough that taking the occassional damage from unseen enemies rarely makes a difference.

The Legendary Starfy starts off pretty slow and easy, but the level design and gameplay picks up in its variety and personality about halfway through. Most of the extras don't seem to offer much added value, but the treasure chest hunt and secret levels and stages offer a lot of tangible goals to work towards that are fun to achieve, even if they don't offer more tangible in-game rewards. If you just want to blow through the main 32 stages, you can probably do so in as little as three or four hours, but completing all 70 stages, finding all 102 treasure chests, and collecting all of the costumes will run you more in the neighborhood of 10-15 hours. The minigames and multiplayer are mostly a missed opportunity to add some more long-term replay value, but the local co-op works well, when it's available.

Overall, Nintendo has brought a quality platformer over to the US.  While it doesn't measure up to the company's and genre's standard bearers of Mario and Kirby, The Legendary Starfy is still a fun experience if you can handle the younger slant of its presentation. Since the game has been selling more in the Americas than in Japan so far, hopefully we'll be able to see more of this series in the future.

VGChartz Verdict


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Sales History

Total Sales
1 28,775 n/a n/a 28,775
2 18,299 n/a n/a 18,299
3 13,215 n/a n/a 13,215
4 9,861 n/a n/a 9,861
5 8,837 n/a n/a 8,837
6 12,850 n/a n/a 12,850
7 5,332 n/a n/a 5,332
8 4,129 n/a n/a 4,129
9 3,830 n/a n/a 3,830
10 3,055 n/a n/a 3,055

Opinion (32)

Goodnightmoon posted 09/01/2015, 09:52
This is the cutest game on Ds, love the graphics and the gameplay, very funny, love it :)
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spurgeonryan posted 11/03/2012, 06:18
Thanks IxisNagus.
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spurgeonryan posted 11/03/2012, 06:17
That is correct Ninpie.
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Tammi posted 02/11/2011, 01:51
Great game!!
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Venox2008 posted 04/07/2011, 06:08
very awesome game! :)
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killeryoshis posted 30/05/2011, 04:22
I come back over a year later and see that sales almost doubled legs indeed
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