Act: Demonstar: SM2 [by MKing]
Game Review: DemonStar: SM2
Release: Oct 2003
Developer: Mountain King Studios Inc.
System Requirements: DirectX 5, 200mhz cpu, 32MB Ram, Win95,98,98SE,ME,2K,XP
Price: US $24.95
One of the biggest challenges in writing these reviews is trying to avoid repeating myself. How many different ways are there to say, “this game has options standard to the genre” or “the graphics are crisp and colorful”? Unfortunately in this review I know I will be repeating myself because I’ve already reviewed the game in question before. Well…sort of.
Demonstar: Secret Missions 2 is the latest release from Mountain King Studios and is the third in their Demonstar series of high quality vertical shoot-em ups. If you want to know how I feel about Secret Missions 2 simply go read my previous review of Secret Missions 1 because the games are identical!
The ship designs are the same, the level variations feel the same, the sound effects are the same – even the hellish difficulty level hasn’t changed. I’ve played both games side by side and there have been no perceptible additions or subtractions in the evolution from Secret Missions 1 to Secret Missions 2.
The same high-quality (albeit low resolution) graphics as found in the previous version are here with a staggering amount of ships and objects on screen at any given time. If you read the marketing blurb I guess this is a new enhanced engine but I never really noticed those enhancements.
The sound effects seem to be identical to the Secret Missions 1 but I think the accompanying background music has improved in quality some.
All of the same praise and complaints I had with the first installment are still here. The game is extremely challenging and even though there are only 8 levels, they are big levels. Unless you are a hardcore arcade gamer you probably won’t finish this game in one sitting. Still a top-notch shooter!
The options layout and amount of control are once again identical, that is to say they are outstanding. Still, they didn’t change anything so I dropped it by 1 rating point, as perfection is the first stage of obsolescence!
I gave the first installment an 8 for concept and there I was rating how well they modified the classic arcade shooter to the PC. Here I am rating the concept based on the strategy of producing an add-on pack and releasing it as a full product. This series is in serious risk of stagnation if the developers don’t take the time to evolve it.
Demonstar: Secret Missions 2 is just as fun as Secret Missions 1 - though there still haven’t been any concessions made for the newbie gamer. This is a hardcore shoot-em up and those without a background of hanging out in smoky arcades listening to Duran Duran may find it especially challenging.
On one hand I can understand the developers wanting to stick to a formula that works – the Demonstar games, as I’ve said before, are probably the best shoot-em ups being developed for the PC today. Why mess with a good thing?
On the other hand a certain amount of evolution is expected between titles and shareware developers don’t get off the hook just because they have smaller teams. What Mountain King Studios appears to have done is created an add-on pack for Demonstar: Secret Missions 1 and released it as an entirely “new product” for the full $24.95 price tag.
If it appears that I’m being unfair (after all I should be reviewing the game at hand and not the developer’s tactics) let me put it this way – if you haven’t played any of the Demonstar games then you can buy Secret Missions 2 and be satisfied that you have the best in the series. If you already own Secret Missions 1 then I can’t see enough in this “new” version to really justify the price. Just replay the game you already own and you won’t miss anything.
Added: October 22nd 2003
Reviewer: Kyle Nau
Related Link: Download DemonStar SM2
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