Originally released on Apple Arcade, on-rails shooter Air Twister has finally made its way onto consoles.
Why should you care, you’re probably wondering? Well, it’s because Air Twister is designed by Yu Suzuki of Space Harrier and Afterburner fame, amongst others. This is a game with pedigree. It’s just a shame, then, that it does little to push the genre forward. Gameplay-wise, Air Twister is woefully basic.
Taking control of a flying princess, your goal here is to travel through 12 stages, blasting enemies as you go. Tap the fire button and you’ll shoot projectiles straight ahead. What’s more effective, however, is moving over enemies without firing to lock onto them first. Then, when you do fire, you’ll release a volley of missiles destroying multiple enemies at once.
Flying into the screen, the trick here is effectively taking down enemies while avoiding their fire. It can be troublesome at times, especially with the screen getting rather busy. Some stages have obstacles for you to avoid, too, though not as many as we’d have liked. While there are some dramatically varied backdrops here, enemies are frequently shared, meaning the action gets repetitive relatively quickly.
Starting out rather breezy, the difficulty of Air Twister really picks up at about its halfway point. This isn’t a game you’re supposed to beat on your first go. In a modern twist, things do get easier over time thanks to a variety of upgrades that can be purchased with Stars earned in-game. Via an adventure map, you’ll unlock health upgrades, new weapons, a slo-mo feature and more, making your continued exploits that bit more manageable. There are a wealth of cosmetic items to unlock, too, allowing you to make your flying princess your own.
Whether you’ll keep plugging away at Air Twister to unlock everything, however, is questionable. The gameplay doesn’t really change all that much despite all the unlocks available – it just gets easier. But even then, playing through the same stages time and time again gets tiresome, especially with your basic moveset. It would have been nice if there were more gameplay elements here, such as being able to dash or interact more with the environments you travel through. As it is, there’s just not much incentive to keep playing.
There are a range of additional modes, though, including one that inexplicably just has you clicking on sequential numbers. There are daily and weekly challenges, too, with rewards for completing them. So, those that do find themselves enamored with Air Twister will find plenty to do.
In terms of presentation, Air Twister is likely to be a hit or miss affair. Its visuals are bold and colourful, but there are signs of the game’s mobile roots. Even more divisive will be the game’s soundtrack. Created by renowned Dutch artist Valensia, its very much inspired by the likes of Queen. We quite like it, but we get the feeling that some will consider it out of place.
Air Twister isn’t a bad game – far from it – but it does nothing to genuinely impress. It looks quite nice, has a love-it-or-hate-it soundtrack, and a wide variety of modes, but the core gameplay here is disappointingly basic. So, while fans of the genre might get some enjoyment out of it, it’s hard to recommend on the whole.