Starr Mazer Kickstarter Promises Unlikely Fusion Of Genres

Have you ever wanted to take some of your money and invest it in a “retro-sexy point-and-click adventure shoot ’em up in space”? Then have I got the Kickstarter for you: Starr Mazer.

Point & click adventures and shmups seems an improbable combination on the face of it. Some of you might be thinking of that Futurama “shut up and take my money” meme right about now. Others might be skeptical about the potential gimmickry that comes with fusing two entirely disparate genres together.

To both responses I say: hold on. Let’s take a proper look at this.

I won’t deny I’ve reservations about how broad the appeal is of a game that intends to transition between one of the most relaxing and contemplative styles of gameplay and one of the most intense and unblinking. From the information on the Kickstarter page it seems clear that the shoot ’em up parts of the game will be frenetic, almost bullet hell affairs. That’s not a style of game for the faint-hearted – or for those who prefer to take their gaming slow and steady.

On the other hand, the Kickstarter is barely a quarter of the way in and it’s almost half funded already. So perhaps people really are crying out for unusual combinations like this. Playing a lot of games makes you appreciate novelty all the more when you do come across it, and this is certainly one of the more novel fusions of game genre I’ve encountered in a while.

There’s more to like than novelty, mind. The developers are describing their approach to how the game unfolds as “Open-Middled Gameplay”, with authored episodes that can be entered and departed at a variety of points (which reminds me a little of how elderly space adventure game EV Nova’s storylines worked). Actions and choices should have ramifications down the line, and we’re all over that sort of thing these days. The plot also seems like it might offer some juicy space opera, which is a big plus in my book.

The shmup levels will involve some degree of dynamic assembly – which I realise makes my bullet hell comparison a little whiffy. If its levels ain’t meticulously assembled, it ain’t bullet hell, as someone didn’t say that one time in Space-Texas. Still, dynamic levels should offer decent shooter variety – with an extra spicy note if the promise of thematic and behavioural consistency between certain enemy types proves true.

If you’re interested in Starr Mazer then space-mosey on over to the Kickstarter and prepare to transfer credits into its space-wallet. Space-sorry for the space-prefixes. Space.


  1. LogicalDash says:

    Snatcher had some shoot ’em up bits that sucked, as I recall.

  2. Anthile says:

    Looks like you forgot the tags.

    • qrter says:

      Especially the one that reads Seemingly Random RPS Kickstarter Endorsement.

      • Donjo says:

        Endorsements usually don’t contain “reservations about how broad the appeal is of a game that intends to transition between one of the most relaxing and contemplative styles of gameplay and one of the most intense and unblinking.”
        Example: An endorsement, testimonial, a promotion or advertisement for a product, say, washing up liquid, would be unlikely to contain any kind of hesitancy or doubt. It would be unlikely to state ” “Now hands that do dishes can feel as soft as your face with mild green Fairy Liquid – but is that a good thing? Are the chemicals in Fairy liquid that make your hands soft actually bad for you? Never mind the environment.”

        • John O says:

          Sorry, this shouldn’t have been a reply. But while i’m here, i think mentioning it is kind of an endorsement already. Not that i care.
          –>original post:
          Does this really have to go with the “pixel style”? I understand people like pixels, but i don’t think that means that every game is better with chunkier pixels. I like the art style with this one, seems competently drawn with nice color choices and all, just made hard to read by downscaling things. At least make it optional. Oh well.

  3. CarthAnne says:

    I like shoot em ups. I like point and click adventure games. I like 80’s schlock. Bring it.

    And what’s wrong with a little variety between levels anyway? Don’t any of you guys ever get bored of playing games that are practically just pointing at and clicking on the same enemy over and over again for 10 hours?

    • corinoco says:

      No, they’re MEN.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      To me no. When I play a point and clicker it’s because I’m too tired or hung over to be bothered with anything else. I want as slow a game as possible where I can just relax, enjoy a storyline and some funny dialogue. Throwing me into a shoot em up when I am in the mood for a point and click game is precisely the last thing I want a game to do.

    • The First Door says:

      Oh good gravy, yes! Not just with shooters, either, although they are pretty bad for it. The Ubisoft-style also bores the pants off me these days. ‘Oh, goody. Another thing to climb with a mechanic which is much, much, much less fun and interesting than the PoP: Sands of Time one from 12 years ago. Woohoo!’

      • SigmaCAT says:

        Oh god. PoPSoT was twelve years ago. I’m not even twenty yet and am hurting still.

  4. corinoco says:

    If there was ever a game that would blend perfectly with point and click, it is Star Control 2.

    Star Control 3 was disappointing, being one of the early “Look! A CDRom!” games.

    Someone please make Star Control 4 as a Shmup/PnC.
    What? Oh you are, in all but name? Right, carry on then!

    • jrodman says:

      While I dearly loved star control 2, and shooted it up with the best of them, it’s not exactly what I’d call “bullet-hell”, which I can’t personally abide.

  5. gwathdring says:

    Hmm. I think my concern here is how elegant the transitioning feels. Plenty of games are essentially a glorified micro-game collection that ties the bits together so they feel like one more complete game. They may be hard pressed to pull that off here.

    But I suppose there’s nothing WRONG with having two games that alternate or what-have you if both are equally strong or if the one that takes more of your time and effort is the stronger one.

  6. Phasma Felis says:

    Every attempt I have ever seen to add action sequences to an adventure game has ranged from mediocre to wretched. (I’m thinking of the fighty bits from Full Throttle as the merely mediocre high end here.)

    Why is that, I wonder? Can this effect be beaten?

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      I think it’s usually down to the fact that the engines used in adventure games are hardly high end as they don’t need to be. They don’t lend themselves to any sort of action game, so it ends up clunky and basic.

  7. El Mariachi says:

    Major Havoc mashed up a space shooter with… well, not a point-&-click adventure, but a maze/platformer thing. I think it was a little too complex for arcade audiences at the time; I can’t think of any earlier game that changed modes so drastically.

  8. Ahtaps says:

    A while ago I found out what a “Mazer” is, so when I heard about a game called “Starr Mazer” all I could think of was a wooden drinking utensil flying through space, dodging lasers and chasing the odd bounty or two. I’m not really sure about the mix though, it didn’t really work for me in Jade Empire (Not a point and click, but a walky talky game nonetheless). If it’s more like Solar Winds with planetside adventures though then I’m all for it.

    • Harlander says:

      Oh man, Solar Winds! I loved that back in the day.

      This sounds like something to keep an eye on, even though I don’t get on too well with bullet hells

  9. Ejia says:

    Sigma Star Saga tried to mash together a JRPG and a shmup. I can’t say it was entirely successful, but then they used shmup levels as random encounters you can’t avoid and that is all sorts of maddening.

  10. CeeKay says:

    It’s hard not to see the passion and love this team is putting into the game. It’s beautiful and pretty original even for this nostalgia fueled, indie game generation. Reading through the Kickstarter and watching the video absolutely fucking sold me. I will definitely be supporting the project and giving the game a fair shot on release no matter what I hear about it.

    The pixel art here really is beautiful. I looked at the artist’s bio and followed the link to her homepage just to see what else she’s done. I never go that far.

    Also, getting a huge Space Dandy vibe from the main character but the whole setting and style and palette are reminding me a lot of Space Dandy as well. This is not a bad thing in my book.

  11. tomimt says:

    While I like how the game looks, which is rare with these modern retro pixel games, I can easily se how this can end up as a game that disappoints fans of two different genres. I don’t really know how much this kind of polar opposite genres overlap in fandom, but this has a genuine threat of ending up being an adventure that won’t fill the needs of adventure fans and a shoot’em’up that doesn’t fill the needs of shooter fans.

  12. teije says:

    Space Rangers (all versions) is a mashup that worked wonderfully, despite some of the parts being less than stellar. Space combat, trading, resource gathering, awesome text adventures (hilariously and badly translated from Russian in the first one), pretty bad planetary RTS missions, and an arcade style shooter.

    Somehow they those parts, some dubious, meshed to create an excellent gaming experience, warts and all.

  13. Stragman says:

    Looks promising, although we face again the same hero and damsel in distress stereotypes… (YAWN!!!)

  14. geldonyetich says:

    Looks gloriously over-the-top. I hope this one reaches the finish line, it would be a fun romp.