(GBA / Game Boy Advance)

Densetsu no Stafi (GBA / Game Boy Advance)

Game Review

Densetsu no Stafi Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Densetsu no Stafi kicks the series off in grand style.

Before the Densetsu no Stafi series made an appearance on Nintendo's DS system, it started off with three amazing Game Boy Advance releases. The game creatively combined platforming elements with underwater puzzle solving game play to form one of the most unique and engrossing games available for the system. Densetsu no Stafi marks the first release in the series and while it doesn't quite have the length or depth of the later Stafi releases, it still features the same unique charm the series has become so well known for and provides the perfect starting point for those who are looking to get into this amazing series.

The variety in the game play of Stafi is what makes the game so difficult to put down once you begin playing it. You'll have to navigate the many levels of the game and complete certain tasks given to you by the many sea creatures you'll come into contact with. While most of the instruction is in Japanese, the animations themselves will generally give you a good indicator of what you need to do in order to advance further into the level. Most of the time this consists of locating lost treasures, rescuing sea creatures who've been taken hostage by Ogura's evil minions, or traversing the maze of doors and corridors throughout each level.

As you progress through the game, you'll pick up additional moves for Stafi that you'll need in order to gain access to many portions of the later levels. These range from more powerful spin moves, to the ability to glide in midair. You'll even get a chance to take control of a vehicle in certain areas that adds a little variety to the already solid game play and gives you a reason to go back and play through the levels again. It's worth noting that there's not nearly as much platforming in this first release as found in the sequels, but don't let that scare you off. There's still plenty of enjoyable game play to go around and the heavier puzzle-solving influences tend to make this one even more fun to play.

The game's unique combination of platforming and puzzle-solving give the game a very enjoyable balance of things to do in each level. The game even mixes things up quite a bit and tosses the occasional boss fight into the mix to keep you on your toes. This is where the game really starts to shine, as the bosses are not only quite humorous to look at, but the challenge of figuring out how to defeat them is equally fun. There's even some really fun mini-games to offer up a change of pace during certain levels. When you couple all of these game play elements together, you get a platforming experience that will feel both familiar and fresh, all at the same time.

Visually Densetsu no Stafi is the least flashy of the series, but that doesn't mean it's a slouch by any stretch. As with all the Stafi releases, everything around you is vibrant and crisp. There's no limit to the sheer amount of colorful scenery you'll come into contact with throughout the game. It's also a nice touch that you never hardly see the same type of area twice, as the developers have done a great job of mixing things up with all of the various surroundings. There's a little scaling and rotation thrown in here and there, but it's more of an afterthought than anything. It's still safe to say that all of the visual charm and personality that the Densetsu no Stafi games have become known for is still present and accounted for, even in this first release.

Musically Densetsu no Stafi is actually a fairly strong Game Boy Advance effort. All of the tunes in the game are upbeat and seem to fit the light-hearted theme of the game perfectly. The sound effects range from mediocre to over-the-top silly, but as you'll find out when you play future versions of the game, they're always used consistently throughout the series. The music does seem to repeat a lot, so the only real drawback with the cutesy soundtrack is the fact that it can become slightly repetitive after long playing sessions, especially if you find yourself stuck on the same level for a significant amount of time. Luckily, most levels doesn't last so long that the track will be permanently burned into your ear drums. Much like the visuals, this first game in the series sports the weakest soundtrack of the bunch, but ultimately manages to be a solid musical effort.


If you haven't played any of the Densetsu no Stafi titles, you really owe it to yourself to give this unique platformer a try. The games might be a little on the easy side for veteran platformer fans, but it's a fun ride just the same. There's a lot to be said of the type of charm and personality that these games exude and couple that with the fact that the games feature such a solid control system and what you have is one of the most enjoyable Game Boy Advance adventures around. If you're new to the Stafi games, this one is the perfect place to get your feet wet. The game might start off a little slowly, but when it picks up, the addictive nature of this game really shines through and will send you off in search of other Stafi releases to play after you've finished this little gem.

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User Comments (12)



WolfRamHeart said:

Very nice review Corbie! I'm really eager to play the newest Starfy game but maybe I should consider tracking down the older games first. They must be hard to find though and probably expensive too. Is Starfy similar to other Nintendo platformers like Kirby or Drill Dozer?



Corbs said:

These games are not too hard to find and not very expensive really. Grab #3 if you can, it's the best. Play-Asia ran a special on them where they were all $14.95 and $19.95 brand new and I grabbed all three of them. They've since sold out.

The game play is a bit similar to Kirby, but the underwater physics in many places make it even more fun. Plus there's still plenty of out-of-water platforming as well.

This first game is a bit on the easy side, but a nice start if you're looking to get your feet wet with the series.



Objection said:

Are all the GBA games pretty accessible to non-Japanese speakers? I would assume they were since you've obviously enjoyed them all, but I try not to assume.



Damo said:

Why were western gamers not given the chance to sample this? Thank goodness for the region-free nature of the GBA!



Corbs said:

Yeah, there's not much Japanese in them, and as I stated in the review, the illustrations make it easy to decipher.



Stijnco said:

I have Stafi 3 for GBA even if I don't understand the japanese, it's a really good game and that's what it's all about.



Mario_maniac said:


Why couldn't Nintendo localise these games starting with the first one? I don't wanna have to import them.



J_K said:

Because NOA has been classically blind to what would sell well in this country and have been making bad decisions on internal localization since the NES. Advance Wars originally was Famicom(NES) Wars. Custom Robo was a N64 game initally and on handhelds too. Super Mario Bros 2 on the NES was felt to be too hard so we got the recreation of Doki Doki Panic (then later Japan got Super Mario USA which is out SMB2.) There's ultimately a long list of quality franchises they turn a blind eye to here that can and will work.

I always wanted Starfi and never could get ahold of it. At this rate I'll probably just get the DS title and go from there as I don't have a GBA jack/system anymore.



Knux said:

Great review Corbie! I have a Nintendo DS Lite,so I'll pay Play-Asia a visit in the future.



Slapshot said:

Yeah the games are great.... some of my fav import titles that I own. Easy to navigate without knowing Japanese and most important its fun as heck... all of them. Cant wait to get the new one to actually know whats going on in the games as in story line. Cant wait.

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