Also On: PS5, Switch, PC
Developer: YS Net
Space Harrier is a Sega classic that has been in arcades and on multiple platforms throughout it’s existence. It’s an on-rails shooter where you control a flying warrior armed with a laser cannon tasked with shooting down tons on enemies in a 3D world. A few short years ago, Sega tried to revive the Space Harrier series with an amazing arcade game called “Planet Harriers”. It took the shooting action of the original and added more challenging game play and tougher enemies and bosses. Sadly, Planet Harriers never left the arcade but now thanks to Ys Net (and Yu Suzuki, who was responsible for Space Harrier while at Sega), a very close alternative has arrived with the release of Air Twister.
The premise of Air Twister is very simple, you control a flying warrior armed with a laser weapon, in an attempt to destroy all of the monsters and demons that have invaded your peaceful world. You can fly and also have the command over several flying beasts that will aid you in battle. Your job is to shoot everything that moves, don’t fly into obstacles and don’t get shot. As you begin the game you are only given one objective, “Save The Planet”, and that is your only goal. At the end of each area, you will encounter a Boss Enemy that will require more strategy to defeat. Shooting is done two ways, with a straight on laser and a lock-on laser for better accuracy. Locking on to an enemy is far more accurate than the straight shot, so it’s best to use them together for maximum firepower. You only have one actual life, but you have a large health meter that allows you to take damage as you fly through the amazing looking battlefields. You cannot take too much damage though, so make sure you conserve as much health as you can.
As you defeat enemies, you will collect Stars that act as the games currency for unlocking costumes, items and weapons. The “Shop” is a world map with icons on a fixed path where you can purchase items. As you unlock things, you also uncover literature that fills you in on the worlds history and backstory, tells you about the enemies and opens up music tracks and new challenge stages. You can also get new hair styles and makeup for your warrior. Only the weapons and items like shields and life extenders make changes to the gameplay, while everything else for your character is for cosmetic purposes. You can also buy upgrades that can increase the number of lock on targets you can have, and give you invulnerability for a short time.
Besides the main game, you can try out different challenges like shooting a certain number of enemies within a time limit, test your reflexes and collect extra stars by completing timed number sequences and side scrolling collection challenges. There is also a straight Arcade Mode with no upgrades or powerups if you just want some quick classic shooting action.
Graphics are really nice looking without taking the full advantage of the current generation of consoles. You won’t find any ray tracing or realistic lighting and dynamic shadows, and this is perfectly fine and everything still looks and flows great. The music is a huge stand out with a wonderful Rock Opera inspired soundtrack that will get your foot tapping as you play. At first I thought the soundtrack wasn’t going to fit with a game like this, but after a short time, it really grew on me and I was looking up the soundtrack to listen to outside of the game. It all works so well together that you can lose yourself in the gameplay and want to keep playing for hours at a time.
With recent game releases with all of the latest graphic bells and whistles it’s super nice to see a game like this that takes a simple premise and and knocks it out of the park. Air Twister is a fantastic game that is a genuine alternative to Planet Harriers and continues the Space Harrier legacy without even mentioning or trying to tie itself to the previous games.
For those of you who missed it’s original release on the Apple Arcade, and I’m almost sure that was just about everyone, you owe it to yourself to download this release on your favorite console and enjoy. Even if you’ve never heard of Space Harrier, you will have fun playing through this, with its great action, soundtrack and tons of unlockables. Air Twister is definitely one that needs to be in your collection. I cannot recommend it enough!
Note: ININ provided us with a Air Twister Xbox code for review purposes.