Should I be excited about… Starwhal: Just the tip?
Martin’s innuendos penetrate this review deeply, but take a deep breath and you’ll get it all
Once upon a time, somebody told me that the concept of a “couch multiplayer” was dead. He said that, because of services like Xbox Live and PSN, there was no future for split-screen co-op, joining your friends in the same room to play a game. Well, you know what? **** you, buddy.
I never gave up on the idea of split-screen (couch multiplayer) and neither should you. Even on a system as unfriendly towards the genre as the PC, there are a few great titles that ensure you’ll be meeting up with friends and happily gaming for hours. One of these titles is called Starwhal: Just The Tip.
Obvious(and amazing) innuendo’s aside, Starwhal doesn’t offer a lot in the way of variety, and there’s literally no story line. The gameplay is extremely basic, requiring only three buttons to use, and the graphics are fairly minimal. Sounds pretty bad, right? WRONG!
Starwhal: Just the Tip from Breakfall, a group of indie game designers, was conceived during a 48 hour game jam and refined from there. It has a simple premise; you play as a narwhal(Never heard of them? That’s OK, they’re like the love-child of a dolphin and a swordfish) and you need to use your pointy nose to stab the other narwhals in the heart, while ensuring they don’t stab yours. Like I said, a simple premise.
But don’t you dare mistake “simple” for “easy”. The game only requires three buttons to control your starwhal(Those are just like narwhals, only IN SPACE) and those buttons are Up, Down and Forward. There’s also a Taunt button, actually, which in most fighting games would have your character shout out some specific, derogatory line to your enemies. Being a narwhal, though, you just squeak in Starwhal. It’s kind of hilarious.
The games physics are deliberately wacky, lending an insane mix of ballet and wall-slamming to every match, and there’s a great feature where, when a horn comes close to piercing a heart, the entire game slows down. It can lead to incredibly close moments, filled with relief, elation and general happiness. I played Starwhal recently with two friends. We hooked my laptop up to a big TV, two of us used the Keyboard(With WSAD functioning for one player, and the Arrow keys for another) and I connected an Xbox remote. And honestly, it was the most fun we’ve had in a long time. We played every map in the game, one after the other, and the laughs never stopped coming.
Speaking of maps, there are ten; three different zones, each with it’s own colour scheme, and the zones are broken down into various duelling arenas. No two are quite identical, and while some are incredible plain and allow for straight up, balls-to-the-wall excitement in the fights, there are others that add obstacles and tunnels and generally change the shape of the arena.
The game’s single most amazing feature, though, is the Starwhal customization. You can choose what colour your starwhal will be; Red, blue, green, pink, you name it. Furthermore, you can also customize it’s head and it’s body – it gets pretty hilarious. On the head, you can place a top hat, or devil horns, or replace its nose with a lightsaber, or even Solaire’s helmet from Dark Souls – it’s under the Sun Bro option(You can also wear his armour, which is fun). On your body, you can be a burrito, angel wings, the Blue Shell from Mario Kart or even have a rider.
Now, the riders are the best things ever because the Achievement Hunter guys are all there, and I love them. It adds an extra special something to engage in deadly Starwhal vs Starwhal combat with Michael or Gavin riding you, like a majestic stallion.