SAGE 2020 - Demo Starbuster

This is straight up my favorite videogame right now, even in demo form. I eagerly look forward to how this game shapes up with time!

So far I've put in about 30 hours worth of attempts at speedrunning the current SAGE 2020 demo. 20-30 more hours of untracked time was spent just dinking around with the physics or re-exploring all the areas to chat with NPCs and interact with environment details and flavor descriptions in the Petrov. My first blind playthrough session was roughly 4 hours long learning the basic gameplay mechanics, how mods worked, how to interact with NPCs, and boss patterns.

While there isn't a _lot_ of lore in the demo as it currently stands, there's plenty enough to give a sense for what this setting is like, a general sense of tone, interesting questions to consider about all of Petrov's main cast and their relationships, the scope of traveling around the galaxy while just trying to survive and get by, and some interesting points to speculate about what measure is a human, what makes a god, and what is the role of robots and AI in a far future where they're left to develop and refine themselves indefinitely.

Alien designs are varied and range from appealing to the mildly grotesque. Most of the combat currently in the game is against misbehaving automated machines, large battle-ready automated vehicles, and cyborg murderers seemingly built with the brains of humans who had already died. The cyborgs have a surprisingly versatile attack kit which covers closed range and long range attacks, while the other machines have a fairly simple behavior set that seems to imply what their function would otherwise be in a non-hostile state.

Also the game mechanics are cool. Cassie can swing around by dropping and grabbing ceilings to build momentum, jumping and grabbing the ground to launch herself, and do weird grapple stuff on walls to YEET HERSELF INTO THE SUN. Cassie goes fast and works out and punches stuff and can SLAM HER FOOT INTO HER ENEMIES AT HIGH SPEED. I like that!!

and alpha is plays like megaman zero but without the bad parts
if i die before the game is complete give cassie a balloon plz
but if i don't then do it aynway

I FREAKING LOVE THIS GAME. Easily looks like it might be a better game by the end than any of the individual games that inspired it.

anyway, bust a star why don't you

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Damn. What an awesome game. 9/10. The only reason im giving 9/10 is because its only demo. This game world building, fight intensity, characters, story is almost on the same level as games like "Under tale", "Blasphemous". I will have to play the whole game to really realize the what it ends up being but for what it is atm, its pretty awesome.

You would be shocked that when I first time finished this game (was playing as droid). I couldnt believe that the game finished. I thought I had downloaded the whole game. Went to webpage again, downloaded another file. Finished the whole game within 40 mins almost and then I was so shocked as to why it finished. Came to this webpage again only to realize that this is a demo lol. I am this much invested in this game :emoji_laughing::emoji_laughing::emoji_laughing:.

Btw. Can you provide me discord link? I want to stay upto date with your game. Its so damn awesome. If there is no discord server. I highly recommend you make one. It will help many fans of this game like me to stay upto date with your game.
Proto
Proto
Yo glad you liked it, certainly a weird length for a demo ahahaha

We don't have a public discord set up yet (I'll do it as some point just haven't really figured out what to do with it), but if and when that happens I'll probably post about it on the twitter https://twitter.com/Starbuster_Game
I really love this game, man, i wish this game will be for Mobile too... i wish one day.
Btw i really like the story, the two main characters and the song, I almost have all the song so i can listen them anywhere I go.....
This game is awesome!

Great Job Starbuster Team!!
The instant I saw the scroll-up art with Alpha, I knew exactly what I was getting into. This game has amazing controls, nice speeds, and just flows really well. It has a hell of a potential if it was worked into a full game.

Great job Starbuster team!
This game is fantastic, its one of the smoothest 2D platformer's I have ever played, The sprite work and animation is incredible along with the game running at 144hz (not sure if tying the game to the monitors refresh rate was intended but thankfully it does making it feel fantastic to play). My only issue is the text confirmation being on enter is a bit of a pain to reach when playing on a keyboard, having it set to the jump key by default would be a better choice
man this game rocks its such a bobkiss however it has some problem and i know what you are about to say
haaaaaaaaaaaa problem in a demo how dare you
I know but demos also can make the game better with some criticism sprinkle in so here is one
I found it to be extremely annoying to pause the game and go to mod to change e guns and stuff also why the gun section has three slots yet all of them for different parts of the gun mod there is the type of gun which is obvious and then the double shot slot ? and the effect like freeze fire etc for your guns ? i didn't know what slot is for because all of them look and act the same look at the melee parts all of them makes sense because they all do the same thing for the sword but i think you should have a separated slots for gun shot type effect type also why i have to pause the game to change guns and stuff i mean casita or whatever her name was needed a pause change because she is the one that mostly uses guns because there is not in game gun swap which also you should somehow put a swap button like megaman l and r buttons huh kinda ironic to talk about megaman here anyway also this is partly my problem but ...... I kinda don't like the character design and the humor especially when the lizard girl makes an anime face god I hate that I don't know why but I always disliked anime crap also the music is beautiful yet it makes the game relaxing instead of SUPER FIGHTING ROBOT ALPHA MAN its kinda oh yeah i can dance which there is nothing wrong with that but but i kinda start to get bored by the music huuuuuuh
anyway this game is awesome it has the sword fighting of meagman zero that i ever wish for and the awesome contra gunplay with some slow dawning problems and unappealing character design and humor at least for do your best my friend turn sad gaers into happy gamers with your ass kicking game


also no swears because when he said ass i was like what why anyway bye good luck don't let wario eat your garlic peace
Proto
Proto
NO ANIME ALLOWED
A
ahmed the kurd straanger
Oh hmmmm thank you for replying also well you put some sort of swap button
A
ahmed the kurd straanger
dude i have ideas for a upgrade system think of it triple uppercut prese up melee 3+
Words truly do this demo no justice. So instead, I made a ballad for this incredible game, man it's fun.
The enemies are cannon fodder and have telegraphed panterns, but the bosses really make you think and strategize; I remembered from my ally in my first playthrough I had 3 small medkits, so I used them to help me during the mechanical sea serpent.

And now the ballad, from the perspective of Alpha-1 Prime-0 [rough draft] :

Created by the Federation without the day of Light, thrust to the rebels where I'm programmed to think, to act, and to fight. Rebel fighter, from Federation built; I am both the start and the end of this War. Woke with no memories, a gun in my hand. When everything falls and yet here I stand. As I light up my saber, here I proclaim I am the Prime, and Alpha's my name! War, after war; "What am I even fighting for?! Will I fight forevermore??" The federations design, but with a sympathetic heart has made me more than the sum of mechanical parts, built to kill, yet they gave me a will inside my core; and I made my choice when I woke from the dark. Watching the city I tried to get to wash away from me, cities are built on technological graves, setting off alarms I am forced to wonder if I'm "toeing the line" or if I'm insane, but I will still fight if there are lives to save. A federations design with a sympathetic heart, more than the sum of my core: war, after war, what am I fighting for? Joining the rebellion, here I claim: I am the Prime, and Alpha's my name! Here I shall proclaim that I'll save the day.
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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.
Bug
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.
Questions
1,
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?
Proto
Proto
Huh, can't say I've had that missile issue reported elsewhere, I'll have a look into it. Know about the ricochet bullet they were super last minute on my end.

Charge abilities are planned, had a few lined up for the demo but just didn't get the time to add them properly.

The charge slash in particular is gonna be useful for reaching otherwise inaccessible areas so that's not out of the question. There's a few spots only accessible with those but I didn't put any mods or anything in those as I felt it might be a bit unfair for this kind of demo.

Most specials are being tweaked. A fair few of the mods shown here are meant for much later in the game, I just threw them in cause I thought they were fun.
There is a lot of talent behind this game, I can't wait to buy it, the mechanics, the controls, the art and the music are excellent. my congratulations for this great work, greetings from mexico
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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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Proto
Proto
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.
D
DJReverse
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.
Proto
Proto
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
Proto
Proto
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.
K
Kaylynn
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.
Proto
Proto
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.
Played this game last year. i like cassie's new mechanics as a contrast to Alpha but i still perfer alpha's controls as a playstyle I'm used to. hopefully the mods will be nerfed for later levels since they're OP but really fun! like a tease for what's in store. Cassie and Alpha has potential to bounce dialogue like they have really good chemistry. thank you for making story modes for the 2 separate. I hope the rest of the levels are separate for each character or maybe like an encore mode for cassie for example. TLDR; buff enemies or nerf mods, still nice though
Proto
Proto
Oh yeah the mods are broken, I threw some end-game ones in because they're just fun to screw around with. Eventually these will be much harder to come by, perhaps requiring you to have to sell or combine other mods.
This is an incredibly well polished demo. I'm not usually a fan of Mega-man X style games but this one was really fun.

The layouts had some diverse paths but always flowed well enough that I never felt lost, or that I was repeating sections. The Upgrades I found were both fun and useful. The bosses were simple enough but it was only the start of the game so I'd hope that later levels would up the challenge.

Only real problem I had was that putting the Bullet-time effect on the B button by default had me accidentally fat-fingering it at the wrong time. But I rebound it to Right Bumper and never had any issue again.