Most online games pit you against just a few others players, but StarDunk takes a different approach. Its competitions are held every other two minutes and include everybody currently playing in a race to score higher than the rest. We found this basketball-style game to be quite fun, but it needs more players to truly shine.
StarDunk is a mix of physics and basketball. Like in basketball, you need to aim the ball into the basket and there is a backboard to help you guide it in. The physics part comes in when you aim the projectile.
True to real life, the projectiles you throw in the game travel on a smooth, symmetrical arc. You are shown half the arc as a guide, and must use this knowledge to quickly eyeball where it will land. As you play the game, this will quickly become second nature.
Each ball you land scores you points. The trick to getting higher scores is lighting up all four tiles on the backboard, giving you a random power-up. These include multiballs and bonus points. Unlockable balls enhance these power-ups as well, giving you a few extra bonus points or more throws at once in multiball.
Each special ball is tied to a Plus+ achievement, most of which can only be achieved in an online match. Besides special bonuses for power-ups, each ball has a unique graphical look and three stats: size, bounce, and speed. There is even a Moki ball that is unlocked if you have also logged into Godzilab’s other game, iBlast Moki.
The online component to StarDunk is well implemented. Every two minutes, a two-minute competition will automatically begin for anybody playing online. During this time you must get the highest score possible. Once time is up, you’ll see the final scoreboard, as well as how you ranked against any Plus+ friends who also played in that round. Your ranking will also be updated live as you play.
Of course, massive online competitions aren’t quite as exciting when there aren’t many people playing. Over the few days we were testing this game, we saw about 15 people online at one time, at the most. Whether more players will join in over time is unknown, but at the moment we can only see a sliver of StarDunk’s true potential.
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One problem with many online games is that you can’t play without a connection. StarDunk has a switch to turn off online play, allowing you to play two-minute rounds just for fun. The downside is that you can’t get any achievements in this mode.
Godzilab’s graphical efforts shouldn’t go unnoticed, either. The particle effects and smooth frame rate, as well as use of shaders on newer devices, are extremely slick. The coolest graphical touch, however, is the rotating Earth in the background. This shows where in the world each online player is located, as well as his or her top score.
When more players start to adopt StarDunk, it could be phenomenal. Even with a smaller following, it’s a solid casual game with an unobtrusive and entertaining online component.