SAGE 2020 - Demo Starbuster



[if you're using OBS you're gonna want to use Game Capture. Wish I knew why]

NOTE: Version 1.0.8 has a major issue, cassie skips the second half of Valkyrie Bay. If you have this version please use the link above

Welcome back

Starbuster is a fast-paced action platformer, where a droid and a lizard slash and grapple their way across the galaxy. Featuring a focus on fast paced combat, exploration, and weapon customisation. Rocket around, slap things, grab weapons and build your arsenal. You can't solve every problem by shooting at it but that shouldn't stop you from trying!​

This years demo introduces both protagonists, Alpha and Cassie, and sees them have to work together to escape being stranded on a strange world. The daring escape from Laboratory 19, the invasion of Union Habitat, the surreal calm of the crashed starship Petrov, and the eerie depth of Valkyrie bay.

Take control of Alpha, the latest creation of the insidious grey imperium. Defy your creators and make a break for freedom, nothing will stand in your way!​

Or follow Cassie and the Petrov crew, as they run from the ever-advancing imperial forces. Run from your problems and maybe crash a starship or two, what could go wrong?​


Ever just wake up one day and the whole world is shooting at you?

Featuring an infinite dash, chargeable sword and gun, and special weapon slot for missiles, slowing time and more, Alpha specialised in fast, decisive combat, ready to cut through entire legions of imperial cyborgs.

Move: Arrow keys
Jump: Space
Dash: Shift
Sword: Z
Gun: X
Special: C

Who needs gravity anyway

Equipped with a grappling hook, 360 degree aiming and a handy rocket punch, she's no pushover when it comes to beating up cyborgs.

Move: WSAD
Jump: Space
Aim: Mouse
Shoot: Left Mouse
Grapple: Right Mouse
Punch: Shift

[Controller support available]
[All controlls fully rebindable]

Extra controls:

Start/Esc: open menu/skip cutscene

F4: Toggle full screen

F1,F2,F3: Change resolution (1x,2x,3x)


Each character can equip up to 10 modifications, to alter their gun, melee, core abilities plus special moves. From the simple pulse laser to the devastating starbreaker beam, there will be a weapon to suit every situation. I've not counted exactly but there's about 30 different mods to find in this demo alone. Plus a number of collectable music cassettes just in case someone gets bored.​




Latest reviews

So I would absolutely pay money for this game. Love the art style, love the game mechanics, I actually quite like the characters and their interactions. I love Cassie's little backstory element of being a guitarist who struggles to play with her robot arm and is trying to save up for a bio graft to get back to it. That was adorable and lovely and the way you discover it by interacting with optional stuff in her room and npc's - peak game story telling, I love it. I do have some constructive criticism but I wanted to start with how excited for a theoretical finished product this demo gets me so it doesn't seem like the wall of text I'm about to drop doesn't come off as harshly negative. So, if there was an element of the game I simply didn't mention, it's because that was fantastic and doesn't need to change at all.

Overall I kinda wish enemies had drop rates. Call me old school, but the chance of a reward from clearing enemies just feels right to me. Also, I assume you put the mods as pick ups in the levels to make sure the player has access to them during the relatively short demo, but in a theoretical finished produce, maybe they can just all be bought. For whatever reason that feels like in would be the most satisfying in the long run as it would be something fun to work towards as a player. Though I found a few, (ahem - busted?) combinations, I like the mod system overall. I noticed someone suggest dividing the gun mods into categories so the mod system is less cluttered. I agree with this. I would also recommend having a separate button act as the "remove mod" button and have the back button just cancel you out of the sub menu.

Alpha feels really good to play. His movement and attacks are just amazing and work really well together. My main issue with his play through is that getting hit by something that causes damage didn't feel impactful ... Like at all. Maybe some screen shake or a more prominent sound effect or a more jarring animation to give that oomph so you get that "something took health off" out. Cassie had this problem too, but I really noticed it with Alpha more since his gameplay had me throwing myself at things. Other than that, great Job with Alpha, playing him is awesome!

As I checked over the other comments I noticed a theme with Cassie being very awkward to control. I must admit I agree. I actually remapped basically her entire control scheme to make it (I was playing on controller, so keep that in mind) The two stick bumper/trigger control scheme just didn't feel good to play. The scheme I ended up going with was left stick to aim, Right Bumper to shoot, right trigger to grapple. A for jump and x for punch. This felt significantly more natural and was more more enjoyable to use. Though this did limit the use of the aiming mechanic. Maybe a solution to this would make default pad controls my set up, but normally Cassie defaults to standard 8-positions with her shots, then add a button that lockers her left and right movement and gives her the free aim back.

Now onto the grapple hook. In theory, I love the idea of this, so much so that I almost want you to remove her double jump to give me more reason to use it, cause grapple hooks and swinging mechanics are so inherently fun in games like this. I adored the chain rod in Megaman Zero 2. However I must admit, it just does not feel good to use. Like with the getting hit issue mentioned earlier, it just doesn't feel right grappling onto something. The transition from shooting the grappling hook to actually swinging on it feels nonexistent in some subtle ways. Luckily I think it will take a very small amount of gameplay tweaks to fix that. 1 would be a distinct sound effect when you actually grapple onto something, another could be a small, 1 or 2 frame pause in her movement when the hook grabs something. Nothing enough to interrupt the player's flow, but enough to give the sense that something happened (that last one may be a terrible idea for reasons I haven't considered, but I hope it illustrates the idea I'm trying to get across.)

Also jumping off the grappling hook feels... Off. I want to believe I can use it to get some upward distance with a decent swing but that almost never seems to be the case. I don't have any specific tweak suggestions, but I wanted to bring it up.

The grapple attack is ok, but I almost never used it. but it gave me some ideas to make the traversal elements of the grapple hook more fun. Maybe instead of the grapple attack automatically happening when you hit an enemy with a grapple, you activate it by pressing a button when you are grappled onto something. If it's an enemy you get the grapple attack, but if it's a wall you send yourself flying into it. With a bit of practice in the right spots you could use such a tool to slingshot yourself around the levels, which would be all kinds of fun and give the player another interesting way to move about the levels, and (in a theoretical finished version) give speed runners some really meaty mechanics to work with.

Well, that's all I have right now. Sorry for the overlong essay. I just can't state enough how excited this game was to me and I really wanna see it go on to be an amazing full title. Upon finding a youtube video bringing this demo to my attention, I played it and created an account on this site specifically so I could give you this feedback You have something really special here and I hope you continue with it so I can throw money at you for the final project one day.
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I also think I need some better tutorial sections for how to use her grappling hook, the key with her is whatever momentum you have when you fire the hook, gets instantly redirected into whatever direction you're swinging in, so if you let yourself fall for a bit, then grab the ceiling, you go real fuckin fast cause the momentum just transfers like that. I just don't quite know how to demonstrate this in-game.

Oh and enemies are probably gonna drop stuff. Eventually I want certain types to drop mods specifically based off them (e.g. the troopers would drop a grenade mod), just haven't gotten around to re-working the drop system to the point where it actually like, works.
As far as the controls, I gravitated to what felt the most natural for me, but maybe later I'll replay her segment with the default control scheme and see if I can get it to click, if it does I'll let you know. But I'm glad you appreciate my feeback. Good luck with continued development. I'm rooting for ya.
It may feel more natural on mouse+keyboard, depending on what your tolerance is for that. Only weird bit for that one is it's shift to punch but it kinda works like a dash anyway.
Just binge played both characters and I'm really liking this. Cassie's controls are a bit odd and difficult to get used to so I would see her as a more advanced character to play. Really hoping for an unlockable character to add to the roster at some point. The lady bot perhaps? :3
I'd be lying if I said I hadn't considered her. She's meant to be a clone of Alpha though so she'd end up with the same moves probably. I think she'd be more interesting if she played through different stages and that's like, a whole other game to add ahahaha.
Could be that she is similar but uses the mods differently than Alpha does in some ways. ^_^
Starbuster intrigued me with the mention of the MMZ inspiration, and I was not disappointed. Great gameplay, beautiful pixelart, branching level design and sweet music, I couldn't ask for more. Alpha controls excellently and is a blast to play. Cassie had a learning curve, but that may have been because I used a controller (switching jump and melee from the face buttons to the shoulder and trigger. It's definitely the best way to make use of her grapple, but I did have muscle memory issues swapping between them). I'm also liking how the story is shaping up, Alpha and Cassie have some fun interactions and look to have a pretty wholesome story arc building. The writing in general I also want to compliment, both for being genuinely funny and for its brevity.

As for criticisms, being able to skip cutscenes would be nice for repeat playthroughs, or just having a no-cutscene mode. Also, dividing the mods into categories rather than listing every mod for that weapon would be helpful, especially since some cancel each other out. So, having a "Shot," "Pattern" and "Charge" slot for the gun, instead of having 3 slots. It would make it more obvious that you couldn't equip Incinerate and Cryo at the same time, rather than having players try that only to wonder why it didn't work. Finally, more character specific levels would benefit Cassie, as I found little use for her grapple after her intro level, especially in the areas without a reachable ceiling.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the Starbuster demo and eagerly await the full game. By the way, I love Alpha's design. Capturing both cool and cute in such a simplistic design is nothing short of amazing. I'd buy 6.
Oh you can actually skip cutscenes you've seen before, I think moving forward I'm gonna make it a "hold esc to skip" instead of that, but I spent quite some time on them and I'm an arsehole so everyone has to sit through them for now.

Already looking to overhaul mod slots, the complicating factor here is there's more than three categories atm so it's not as straightforward as just having dedicated slots.

I really want to try and lean into each character having different routes through levels. VB was done to test if they could both even exist in the same space. Ideally there may be a few more levels unique to each character but we'll see if I can actually do that without dying first.


I only tried Cassie in this but had a great time. There's a lot to be said for game design that lets the player have fun instead of challenging them with incredibly difficult platforming or enemies at every moment, and having a grappling hook and all her other moves worked really well for that. If anything maybe a little too well... there were some swinging hook gimmicks or something like that toward the end of the demo, but I didn't feel any great need to interact with them, I was so mobile on my own. My triple shot, rapid fire, ricocheting bullets were likewise so powerful they tended to slow the game down a little. But hey, using them was a lot of fun! The characterization was also surprisingly good throughout, Cassie had nowhere near a generic protagonist personality and showed a surprising amount of depth across her various interactions. I did keep accidentally skipping lines of dialogue by pressing the key again, though, thinking it would make the line finish printing instead of skip it.
I love MMZ and this game brings tears to my eyes =')

I am an English Translation student and I would love to translate your game to Brazilian Portuguese, just for the experience and portfolio, I'm not charging anything. Could you give me an email so we can discuss this matter?
Damn, I got hooked on this game. The Xbox controller controls are a little clunky, but I got used to them. The world and characters of this game are so interesting. It leaves me wanting more.

My only gripe about the gameplay is that sometimes it's hard to gain the momentum to crash through glass.

The presentation in this is great, as well. The music, sounds, and backgrounds all impress.
I haven't Enjoyed a 2D-Hack and slash Platformer this much before, It's hard to believe that this is FAN made game. this has a lot of potential. I like the included 2 character with different play styles, I have played a lot of Alpha couldn't say the same for Cassie tho.
1. I have encountered a performance Bug, During the Final boss of Mission 0, When the boss lands his missiles If you go to the pause screen at a certain frame, The frame will decrease drastically decrease. In my experience I was running the game at around 60 fps but when the bug accorded my performance drop to 1-2 fps. Note : My Laptop is considered a Low spec. 8gb DDR3, Core I5, Intel Hd graphic 4000.
2. Not sure if this was a visual bug or not but, If u stand and face directly to a wall and you should your buster with an equipped ricochet mod, the projectile will be stuck with in a wall.
Do you ever planned with adding unique charge abilities to the Saber as well? like you did with the Buster?
2, I see a potential use of movement abilities with the Rocket Uppercut and the Charged Saber dash, Do you intend on using these abilities as a way to unlock Special Items, Secrets, Mod, Etc.?
3, As from my experience with the Special of Alpha Bar, It has a rather quick recharge this could turn down the game difficulty a bit by just spamming the specials but is needed because it also uses some saber skills, Do you plan on nerfing the recharge rate or reduce the skill cost consumptions?

PS : I Would pay good money for this game.
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I'm playing this game from Lenovo Probook 645 laptop and it seems that my Ipega 9088(PG9088) Bluetooth gamepad is not working. Please work on gamepad compatible and the in game settings for Gamepad. More power to the team. Wishing you all the best. ORA ORA ORA!
Just finished playing the demo, and I gotta say WOW. It just completely blew me away. Not only are the main characters really well designed, but the music is enchanting and the backgrounds are so well made. I loved the personality each side character had, along with some of the conversations you can have with background npcs. Each boss is really unique, and it was fun to try to find their weak spots. Moreover, I loved playing as Alpha. His move set is so familiar to the Megaman Zero playstyle that once I found a pattern to hack, slash, and shoot through the enemies, I was non-stop killing machine. I also thought customizing the color pattern is a wonderful add-on. Playing with Cassie was a bit different though. It took me a bit of time to find a keyboard set that worked, but once I did, going through each level as her was really cool. I really thought the addition of her underwater gauge and ability to swim was a really unique feature that made my playthrough with her completely different than the one with Alpha.

My largest trouble with Cassie's moveset was finding a way to use one hand to coordinate her punch, while another would be shooting and grappling. The mouse and keyboard dual compatibility also had me confused at times.
While navigating the pause screen as Cassie, I often tried to select the Inventory (and other options) by clicking rather than scrolling with the keyboard controls. Even though I still haven't gotten used to it, I'm sure over time maybe someone could. I also encountered one (minor) bug in the zero mission of Cassie. After I picked up the package with Cassie (I believe it was the Big something ), I died at that level. Since it sent me back to the start when I respawned, I had to replay the scene and was given another Big Item, which did not disappear even after I talked with the character who requested it. They took one of them, but the additional item remained with me throughout the rest of the game. Aside from these minor problems, the game was really enjoyable.

I would love to see how this project continues, and like many others are saying, am definitely willing to pay for such a game!

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