If you’re familiar with Starfy at all, you might recognize him as the yellow, start shaped assist trophy from Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Not many know he has a successful handheld game series.
The Legendary Starfy is a short-lived series of handheld adventure puzzle platformer games for the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, featuring the titular character, a cute star-shaped prince named Starfy (or Stafy, depending on which version you have) swims and jumps, and sometimes soars his way through the levels to return lost items and defeat bosses. It’s been likened to the Kirby series in terms of gameplay, but with more emphasis on swimming.
A Rocky Start for the Legendary Starfy
For what appears to be a pretty fun, cute game, it had a pretty rough start before it made it overseas. Only one of The Legendary Starfy’s five games has been localized – The Legendary Starfy for the Nintendo DS in 2009.
The first domestic game, Densetsu no Stafy, was originally slated for a 2000 release on the Game Boy Color, but was cancelled since the Game Boy Advance was on the horizon, delaying the debut of the little star for 2 years. The updated Densetsu no Stafy debuted on the Game Boy Advance in Japan in 2002 and was met with an overall positive response by gamers, selling almost 300,000 copies in about 3 months.
With such a positive domestic response, there were of course talks of localizing Densetsu no Stafy. Tose, the game’s developer, was generally for the idea, but Nintendo of America turned it down on the basis that it was ‘too Japanese’ and full of references an American audience wouldn’t understand.
A sequel, Densetsu no Stafy 2, was released in Japan about a year after the first game in September 2003, garnering a similarly positive response and the same amount of sales. Its sequels, Densetsu no Stafy 3 and Densetsu no Stafy 4, continued to do well, especially after the added features of multiplayer modes and its transition to the Nintendo DS, but there was no import made.
Finally, in 2009, the fifth series was localized for both North America and Australia for the Nintendo DS, and got its official introduction at a launch event at the Nintendo World Store in NYC as The Legendary Starfy. The game was thought to be ‘accessible’ enough for non-Japanese audiences, and would do well due to the general positive reception of the Nintendo DS. Thankfully, Western audiences seemed to like The Legendary Starfy overall, from the gameplay to the worldbuilding and story, which was also previously thought to be too complex for Western audiences.
How Do You Play The Legendary Starfy?
The games are basically platformers, but the primary mode of getting around is swimming, as it’s set mostly underwater. Starfy has a set of moves that allow him to surpass obstacles – spinning deftly through rock walls, which also allows him to get rid of enemies, but can momentarily stun him if he spins too soon after the last spin. He can also push obstacles both on land and underwater, and run and jump on land. Usually, the goal of each level is to help a character find some item they lost and return it to them. Starfy also has a health bar represented by 5 hearts – 5 chances to get hit without getting a game over.
At the end of each stage, there’s a boss level where Starfy has to defeat the boss and get in a certain number of blows before the boss gets a chance to defeat Starfy himself.
Densetsu no Starfy
The story behind the original Densetsu no Stafy has Starfy accidentally dropping one of three precious treasures, the Magic Jar, while carrying them in Pufftop Palace in the sky, causing it to fall into the ocean and bring calamity upon the kingdom. Starfy is cast out of the castle by a large storm and falls into the sea below.. He’s rescued by a kind old crustacean named Old Man Lobber, who recognizes him as the prince and gives him information about the Magic Jar, revealing that it was keeping a maleficent creature called Ogura sealed. Starfy must then retrieve the Magic Jar and journey his way back to his home.
Densetsu no Starfy 2
Not too after the events of the first game, Starfy returns to his Palace, but Ogura, trapped in the Magic Jar, releases his children into the sky This once again causes earthquakes and thunderstorms that this time cause the Magic Jar to break, releasing Ogura, who makes off with Starfy’s mother. Starfy and his friend Moe the Clam fall into the ocean, where Starfy must complete similar tasks to the first game while he and Moe gear up to fight Ogura and his children and get Starfy’s mother back.
The gameplay differs a little bit; Ogura’s 10 children serve as bosses for each of the world’s final stages. This game also included mini-games and can use different forms of transportation and even to help us some animal friends from the previous game.
Densetsu no Starfy 3
Just when Pufftop Palace is back in a state of peace, yet another thunderstorm shakes Pufftop Palace off its foundation, and shatters the Magic Jar via a lightning bolt, yet again freeing Ogura. Understandably, Moe the clam is frustrated with having to yet again go after overdraft, so Starfy’s sister Starly spurs the team on down into the ocean and gives them a hand with defeating Ogura.
This game retains a lot of the same structure and features of the last games.
Densetsu no Starfy 4
For the 4th game, we start not at Pufftop Palace, but a nearby palace called Amy Kingdom.,As the Pufftop Palace family sleeps, Amy Kingdom is under siege. Their precious heart-shaped Monamool Stone is stolen – not by Ogura (for once), but by a devious Serpentine spirit named Degil. Princess Mattel comes to Pufftop Palace in search of help in retrieving the stone. Since this is the first game made for the Nintendo DS, Starfy has a similar handheld console that looks like it and is part of the story.
The main cast from the last game, consisting of Starfy, his sister Starly, and Moe, is once again at the center of the plot as they go after Degil to retrieve the stolen treasure.
Gameplay remained mostly similar to how it’d been on the Gameboy Advance, but the Nintendo DS Dual screen feature allowed players to see a map of the area they were navigating. The player still controls the characters via the d-pad, but the touch screen is used to play the bonus stages, navigate menus, and so forth.
The Legendary Starfy
For its international debut, The Legendary Starfy decided to do something a little different when with its plot. Starfy’s sleeping in bed when a rabbit wearing an astronaut suit falls through the of Starfy’s room, followed not too shortly after by The Terrible Trio, some pirates who are after Bunston, the astronaut. Starfy fights off The Terrible Trio but realizes that Bunston has escaped into the ocean, and follows him down there, starting the game.
Bunston has amnesia, and can only recover his memory whenever he comes in contact with shards of a crystal. The game’s goal is to collect the crystals to fully restore Bronson’s memories while fighting off The Terrible Trio.
The player can don little costumes like ghost, dragon, or chicken in order to use special abilities. Due to being on the Nintendo DS, there’s also Wireless Co-op play capability during boss fights and in certain areas using Starfy and Starly.
Despite the game doing pretty well in North America in addition to Japan, the legendary Starfy was the last entry in the Starfy series to date. Fans have wanted a follow up, but nothing has materialized. Some theorize that because the game is very similar to the Kirby series, its popularity was usurped, and some even felt like it was a rip off.
Starfy does appear as an assist trophy in Super Smash Bros brawl, demonstrating his trademark Spin Attack. Much like how he gets stunned when he spends too much, Starfy can trap opponents with his spin, but he’s very weak and can be knocked away easily, but if he explodes he can deal some damage of his own. He also appears as a regular trophy.