Developed By: YS.Net Published By: ININ Games Categories: Rail Shooter, Arcade Release Date: 11.10.23 Price: $24.99 *Game Download Code graciously provided for the purpose of review
Heavens do I really need to just bite the bullet and get an Apple device one of these days. There’s so many games that catch my eye like Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls, the Frogger titles, Fantasian, and the subject of this piece of “literature” Air Twister. I assume you know who Yu Suzuki is, right? AfterBurner, Virtua Fighter, OutRun, Shenmue, and last, but not least Space Harrier. He’s the pioneer at Sega pushing 3D. He left Sega quite a bit ago, but he’s still been toiling away at YS.Net, his own development studio. Most of their work is smaller titles, but they did finally release the long awaited Shenmue 3, as well as their first true original IP Air Twister, which now comes to consoles courtesy of ININ Games, a favorite of mine.
How does one describe Air Twister? So imagine Space Harrier, but in 3D, and with a lock on system like Panzer Dragoon, now mix in a bunch of customization, minigames, and perhaps the greatest, while also least fitting soundtrack of all time. And with this, you get one of my favorite game, with absolutely no hyperbole. This is my game of the year for 2023, and I am not fucking kidding. At all.
Levels are short, challenge is arcade-like, and you can probably beat the game within an hour at most if you last. Sounds like my kind of game. This is probably the biggest hint that Air Twister started as a mobile game. Well, that and the absolute insane grind you need to do to unlock everything. This is no problem for me however. A daily playthrough sounds good, right? This is how speedrunning and expert runs start, isn’t it?
Calling the replay value a grind is kind of unfair depending on how you play or enjoy your games. You get stars and points from your performance or doing challenges. These stars are used in the Adventure Map. Customization in the forms of outfits, hairstyles, maybe a cap or shades. New weapons that function differently? You got it. You can even unlock new abilities like slowing down time to help out with tricky spots or accessories to shield from damage. You’ll unlock new challenge stages and minigames. A tapping minigame, mellow combat-less floating games, a super hard extra stage with it’s own unlocks, boss rushes, arcade modes, you name it.
On top of all of that, you also add to the World Guide. If you ever needed the vast, extensive lore of this fever dream, it’s all here. Weapons, enemies, creatures you ride, the lead Arch’s…meals? It’s wholly unneeded, but at the same time, is erupting with charm. You can also rewatch the game’s cutscenes and listen to it’s soundtrack. Oh, where do I begin with that…
I had never heard Valensia before Air Twister. I have been missing out. Is Power-Pop the right genre? Progressive Rock? Whatever it is, it’s majestic and it’s one of Air Twister’s biggest draws for me. Levels, bosses, the main menu, minigames, it’s everywhere and I honestly to god want to just collect the discography now. Imagine a new-age Queen for lack of better words. And that their latest album is for a weird mobile game by a developer who’s arguably? past his prime. Bullshit, this is a rebirth of his career.
Oh, this is where I talk about negatives. Right. I want to say I can’t because this is the perfect kind of game for me, but the Switch version in particular could be better. It’s not bad, it’s perfectly acceptable. Hoewever, the other versions look and run better. Much better. Unless you really need the touch screen, I’d recommend going for the PS5 edition. Graphics are muddy on the Switch release, which made some things hard to really focus on, and made me almost think the cutscenes were compressed pre-rendered cutscenes. Not exactly the best look? But it’s nowhere near unplayable. Not even close.
I did find a particular bug? at times. Some times a level will start and the crosshair used to lock on to enemies just isn’t there, meaning I cannot lock on to enemies. I’m not sure if this is a bug or intentional for doing good enough, but it’s annoying and the game does feel like it needs that crosshair for certain waves.
This seems like the perfect game for me. I’ve been hooked since starting it…and I can’t put it down. I still need to beat Mario Wonder and other games I have an obligation to cover, but I keep getting pulled back. I will be buying the Strictly Limited Games physical release, especially for the included soundtrack…though probably the PS5 edition.