It took Yu Suzuki centuries to release his last dream project, and the teasing and experimentation that led to Shenmue 3’s final release spanned more than a decade. It’s crazy, then, that his next dream project — a return to his ’80s arcade roots, and a definitively styled Space Harrier spiritual successor — was revealed and released in a month’s time. What’s even wilder is that every bit of the Air Twister is as much a Suzuki joint as the epic Shenmue 3, and it’s a bit of a shame that it arrives with a lukewarm response because it’s clearly the work of a master.
In fact, it’s the work of the masters from the ground up – forgive the stifling enthusiasm, but how to meet the rare new game of Out Run, After Burner and the pioneers behind Virtua Fighter – see Suzuki to that basic feeling What an exciting yet exaggerated move to become famous in the arcade. It’s an ’80s revival, and in my arcade-obsessed mind, it’s as exciting as Top Gun Maverick, although it’s clearly a more modest project.
Air Twister is an orbital shooter with the simplicity of Space Harrier while incorporating some of the features introduced in many games inspired by Suzuki’s 1985 original. It’s a quintessential tap shooter where you lock with touch and feels similar to Panzer Dragoon to the new control scheme.
All in all, it’s a bit messy, and movement can also be controlled by tapping and holding a dot, which means things can get messy at first (you can play on the mat, but sadly it barely untangles ) . This isn’t a precision shooter though, and it became clear after a while that it’s more about locking in the Air Twister’s rhythm – it’s a bit like Rez, inviting the dance of the fingers to describe the incoming waves, Makes you feel a bit like the conductor of Air Twister’s action-packed rock opera.
It’s this style that really stands out in Air Twister, with developer Ys Net borrowing Space Harrier’s surreal fantasy landscape (along with some evocative sound effects, complete with a husky call of “Get Ready!” before each stage). ) and making it everything is grander. Air Twister’s soundtrack does a lot of the heavy lifting here, with eccentric Dutch pro-rocker Valensia delivering a simple outrageous soundtrack that helps the action soar with all the raw pomp and glamour of the Queen classic.
That soundtrack, that style, and that Suzuki swagger makes the Air Twister delightful, though it’s certainly more of a curio than a classic. This is an exclusive to Apple Arcade, and while the service offers some definite benefits, there are often traces of a less healthy mobile experience in the progression system and unlocks. Like other Apple Arcade games, Air Twister isn’t affected by microtransactions, but it does suffer from some of the same bloat and gating that modern games have — you earn stars each time you play, which you can then use to unlock Additional health or providing buffs to Charisma and Defense, so action may be hindered.
That’s all well and good, but the Air Twister’s simple movements feel like it can’t handle the weight placed here. The long progression system does forgive the regular return to Air Twister, though, and I still haven’t gotten over the excitement of having a brand new Yu Suzuki action game in my pocket ready to play on a whim.
It’s an irresistible ’80s Sega – or in other words, it’s full of vibrancy and color that marks its arcade output at its best, and there’s really nothing wrong with it. Air Twister’s quick response to the core appeal — like every good arcade game should have — and it offers a feel that’s instantly recognizable from games like Space Harrier and After Burner. Granted, it’s not quite as sensational as playing one of these classics on an all-encompassing taikan cabinet, but Air Twister’s bombastic operatic nature helps make up for it all. It’s not exactly a masterpiece, but there’s enough ancient magic to shine through that it’s not worth it.