Air Twister is the latest game from legendary developer Yu Suzuki and YS Net. Initially released for mobile and Mac in 2022, Air Twister is now hitting the Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series. What is Air Twister you’re asking? Well it’s an on-rails third person shooter that is, in many ways, the spiritual successor to Sega’s legendary Space Harrier series.
Air Twister is, of course, a lot more than a Space Harrier inspired clone. It’s inspiration does range further afield with hints of other Sega games like Panzer Dragoon clearly making an impact. It also contains a variety of gameplay modes, skill trees, challenges and customisation that appeals to the modern gamer sensibilities of both collecting and completing it all while still feeling like a title from glory years past.
That said, it’s difficult to not describe Air Twister without bringing up Space Harrier because, well, that’s the game its closest to. Air Twister uses the exact same design as Space Harrier, replete with references to that classic arcade game. You spend your time flying around the screen, shooting into it as enemies and environmental objects come towards you. Pretty simple. Modern technology, however, means that Air Twisters levels are anything but an endless, static plain you’re flying across.
They twist and turn and dive, making use of modern technology to provide a rollercoaster ride of an experience. All while throwing you across a variety of fantasy inspired environments to keep that visual factor going. One minute you’re riding a flying swan across a bone filled desert, the next you’re riding a flying elephant across a giant garden that looks like something out of Alice in Wonderland.
Visually Air Twister’s levels are inventive, fun to look at and playthrough. Enemies, outside of the bosses, aren’t as inventive, with more than a few of them looking like their Space Harrier inspired counterparts. Boss designs are fun and varied, though the mechanics themselves rarely deviate from shooting glowing bits on their bodies while avoiding attacks.
Panzer Dragoon makes an appearance in the games auto lock-on system which is always active and the best way to deal with enemy waves and bosses. It’s during combat and the many extras that displays Air Twister’s mobile origins with touch screen design. It’s been calibrated quite well to controllers but there are more than enough moments that would work better with touch screen controls. Thankfully, you can choose between the control schemes.
The games twelve stages are primarily designed for high score shenanigans and earning stars. Stars, earned from defeating enemy waves, adds to the games longevity. You can use them to buy new weapons, more health, lore, music tracks, special abilities, extra abilities and some of the many, many cosmetics that you can customise Princess Arch with.
Rounding out the twelve level campaign is an overworld map detailing the games lore and where you can buy all of the extras. Along with that are numerous extra game modes, such as Boss Rush, Arcade Mode, a puzzle mode and a whole bunch of extra stages, all ranging in difficulty modes.
Initially Air Twister is incredibly easy, but successive runs seem to up the difficulty considerably, with some of the extra stages becoming a significant bullet hell test. There are also daily and weekly events, such as logging in or killing a certain amount of enemies. Completing these rewards you with more stars or more cosmetic items.
This is where Air Twisters longevity comes into play by appealing to your “Gotta collect them all” nature. Princess Arch probably has more fashion items than the enemy has units! And unlocking all of the weapons, accessories, outfits and surprisingly lengthy world lore that its simple invasion story would make you think, is going to take a fair amount of time.
If Air Twister has any faults it’s that it can feel la little unrefined controlling Princess Arch with a controller. I feel her movement speed needs to be a little faster and more responsive. And then there’s the soundtrack by Dutch musician Valensia, which sounds like Queen infused with pop Opera. It may be a bold choice but it just doesn’t work for me or fit what’s happening onscreen.
While it’s great to have a new Yu Suzuki game that isn’t part of an ongoing franchise, Air Twister doesn’t hit the heights of its inspiration, Space Harrier. It’s a fun and quirky game with a lot to unlock but may not keep you coming back for more once you’ve done that.
- Fun, imaginative visuals
- Old school Space Harrier design
- Plenty of extra game modes
- A lot of cosmetics to unlock
- The soundtrack doesn’t fit the action
- Control movement needs refining