After the success of the first two Densetsu no Stafi releases, TOSE obviously wanted to knock one out of the park with their third and final Game Boy Advance Stafi title. To say that they were successful would be a huge understatement, as Densetsu no Stafi 3 offers up the type of platforming experience that most of us normally only dream of. The game takes everything that was great about the first two releases and raises it all to a whole new level of playability to form the game that many Stafi fans consider to be the pinnacle of the entire series, even to this very day.
The basic goal in each area of Densetsu no Stafi 3 is to navigate through the various levels completing tasks given to you by the other underwater creatures. Along the way you'll have to deal with a constant bevy of enemies trying to stop you from completing your task. At the end of each level is an Exit Portal that has a rotating set of balls around it. You basically try to enter the portal at the moment when this rotating ball is closest to the star on top. This scores you additional pearls which in turn add health to your meter. Once you've entered the portal, it's on to the next level.
In Densetsu no Stafi 3, you still have all of the same game play moves from the previous release, including the double jump, super spin, and slam, but this time you get to also play as Stafi's pink sister Stappie. Stappie comes complete with her own unique set of game play moves including a Wall Jump and Crawl move. You'll need her help in order to traverse some of the tricky spots in certain levels that Stafi cannot navigate through. There will even be times when you'll have to quickly switch back and forth between the two in order to help each other out in certain areas.
There are 10 areas in Densetsu no Stafi 3, each containing four levels each. At the end of the fourth level you'll have to face off with a boss before proceeding to the next area. While the levels themselves are amazing, it's the boss fights that tend to be the absolute highlight of the game. Not only are the bosses insanely hilarious in design, but they feature some of the most intricate attack patterns that really make you put in the work to figure out how to beat them.
The vehicles also make a return in Stafi 3, and this time there's some new ones to toy around with including a Pogo Stick, Rocking Horse, and Submarine. After you've beaten the game you can even go back and add upgrades to your vehicles in order to open up two new vehicle-based levels in each area to use them in. Of course beating the game also opens up two very challenging bonus levels in each area that will really test your platforming skills. Ultimately it's this bonus material that ends up adding in tons of replay value to an already lenghty and rewarding platforming experience. Heck you even get a cameo appearance by another famous Nintendo platformer character.
As with any Stafi title, the play control is spot on perfect. Stafi and his sister are both very responsive as far as control goes and it's quite easy and intuitive to pull off their host of special game play moves, even in a pinch. The level designs are by far and away the best the series has seen to date and show just how much the game has evolved in the short time since the first release. There's also five brand new mini games to play that provide a nice little break from the standard levels throughout the game. Add in a heaping dose of replay value and you have one of the most in-depth platformers available for the system.
The visuals in Densetsu no Stafi 3 also get an upgrade from the previous release. Not only is there a lot more detail in the backgrounds, but the color usage is even more vibrant and varied between each area. The careful blend of sharp and pastel colors gives the game a dynamic visual presence and the developers have also managed to make even levels within the same area vary enough to keep things fresh from level to level. Even the enemies and bosses show a wealth of detail in their overall design. The developers really pushed the Game Boy Advance's hardware with this final Stafi release on the system and it paid off in the end.
As if the step up in graphics quality wasn't enough, the developers even found time to compose a brilliant and catchy musical score for the game. Some of the tunes sound familiar, but for the most part the soundtrack is made up of quite a large number of original compositions, each distinctly different from the last. While the sound effects ultimately remain pretty much the same as the previous Stafi releases, the new musical score is more than enough incentive to plug in a pair of headphones and truly enjoy the incredible musical creations throughout the game.
Densetsu no Stafi 2 took the series to new heights, but this third title in the series still blows it away. It's bigger and better in just about every single facet and is easily one of the most playable platformers available for the Game Boy Advance system, or any other system for that matter. While the game's still a bit on the easy side during the first half of the adventure, it's still one of the best platformers ever created and a testament to how its developers manage to keep the series evolving at such an incredible pace. If you love platformers, you absolutely must own this game. It would be difficult to say that any video game is absolutely perfect, but this one's pretty damn close.
Wow. I can't wait for the review of the fourth.
Someone beat me to it.
Hmm, I've never imported games before, but I'm starting to think I should start seriously looking into it for the Stafi games (and Rittai Picross, if that never makes it over here).
Outstanding! A perfect ten! It doesn't get any better than this or does it? I wonder if the fourth game will measure up to this? Great review Corbie!
This game looks amazing. Thinking bout importing for the first time myself. Kinda glad they changed the name to Starfy in America. Stafi kinda reminds me of an infection .
Densetsu no Stafi 4 was reviewed a good while back by Thomas. It scored an 8 which is about right. It's good, but not quite on par with Stafi 2 or 3.
Bah! I'm still skeptical of Stafy but its growing harder and harder...
Corbie, may I ask, is this NOT underwater?
Also, you were 3 stars off with your review.
@Corbie: Oh, my bad. I didn't check this site at that time.
@SMZombies: How could you be skeptical? Have you SEEN Stafi? <3
I completely agree with the score, this was easily the pinnacle of the series. I felt 4 was good, but it got a little repetitive to me somehow. I've played the Japanese version of The Legendary Starfy and though it's no Stafy 3, it's tons of fun and preferable to 4. Here's hoping the GBA titles get translated some day.
All these Starfy reviews are making me anticipate The Legendary Starfy more and more.
Dang it, my NL pledge states that "All non-downloadable games scoring a 10 must be purchased. All downloadable titles scoring 9 or higher must be pruchased." Hreat, now I have to import this. But before I do, question to Corbie:
@Corbie: Does this game run on US systems (either DS or GBA)?
Yes, the GBA and DS systems are not region locked. You can play imports on them just fine. I should know, I do all the time.
Who language be a barrier if I imported it? If it is I can only hope we'll see it imported and translated on the DSi Virtual Handheld.
Is The Legendary Starfy a port of the 4th one or a 5th one?
Though I agree with Kittsy, You DID want to give this a 7, didnt you?
The Legendary Starfy is the 5th game in the series.
Great, hope it improves on the 4th then. Thanks Corbie.
I herd wario was in this. Is he?
Wario is all throughout level 8. And it's got a tie-in with the Wario Land game play.
Wow! This increases the anticipation for the DS version
What was the 4th game then?
I truly agree that Stafy 3 is the pinnacle of the series. The gameplay is the same as with previous titles, but having Stafy's sister Stapy as a second playable character is even more interesting. The stages are more diverse and challenging, while the new minigames are a blast. Being the final GBA Stafy title, the game boasts excellent graphics and a fantastic soundtrack. It’s also awesome that Wario made a cameo appearance in this game, along with his forms and music from the Wario Land series. Nintendo and TOSE did such an outstanding job with Densetsu no Stafy 3. It’s not only one of the best platformers ever made, but truly a brilliant GBA masterpiece!
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