Whether hardcore gamers like it or not, mobile, casual, and free-to-play gaming are here to stay, and with them a horde of new monetisation options such as in-game purchases and level packs.

With the popularity of the App Store engulfing the likes of the 3DS eShop and PSN on PS Vita, many people have suggested that Nintendo and Sony need to be more flexible with the pricing of games on their respective stores, allowing developers to offer cheap additional content and free-to-play titles.

After PSN's slight stumble with Treasures of Montezuma Blitz, StarDrone Extreme has also failed in its attempt to bring casual pricing to the PlayStation Store. The game itself is entertaining enough, but there's no way we can condone its insistence on paying to skip levels.

A star is born?
StarDrone Extreme is like a curious mix of pinball and puzzler. You direct a ball as it rolls around in space, mopping up stars, collecting shattered gems, and aiming to reach the goal in the quickest time possible.

You do all this via nodes. If you touch and hold the screen near a node, your ball circles around it, allowing you to aim where you want to it fly off. Let go and the ball continues on its voyage, hopefully towards the mission's objective.

There are a few different missions, from grabbing every star to reaching the end post-haste. However, the real emphasis is on puzzling, as you throw the ball down narrow corridors filled with explosives that you need to avoid and coloured gates that you need to open with key cards.

There are loads of bonuses to collect, explosions to blast through, and destructive powers for your ball if you can bag yourself enough stars in quick succession. It's exciting at times, and there's plenty of variety in level design to keep the concept fresh.

Once you've worked your way through the game you may also want to go back and do it as quickly as possible to grab all the gold medals. It'll take you a while to get to this point, however, as StarDrone Extreme gets very difficult as you reach the halfway point. Those looking for a challenge will find one.

StarDrone Extreme isn't constantly entertaining, however. While the levels are always well-designed the gameplay itself sometimes becomes quite bland and repetitive.

The controls feel awkward at times. It can feel a little bit like finger Twister as you try to look through your digits to check out the map in the corner of the screen.

StarDrone's biggest flaw, however, is its insane greed. If you get stuck you can choose to skip the level for a price. Indeed, to unlock the skip feature at all will set you back an extra 79p. You have to pay for the luxury of paying.

If you're finding the going tough you have to pay more money to unlock the rest of the content - despite already having paid for it. The fact that the DLC costs the same amount as your average iPhone game makes it even more ridiculous.

StarDrone Extreme is a decent game, but its in-app purchases cast a dark shadow.

source: pocketgamer