Air Twister Is An Arcade Shooter Trapped In A Mobile Device [Review]

Made by Yu Suzuki, Sky Twister is an Apple Arcade exclusive that came with high expectations.

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When it was announced that Yu Suzuki’s next game was going to be an Apple Arcade exclusive, I was excited. When it was hinted that it was going to be a Space Harrier-like third-person shooter, I was intrigued. But when I started playing the game, I was puzzled. 

Yu Suzuki is a giant in the gaming industry. He headed Sega’s AM2 team for 18 years and is the man behind some of Sega’s arcade hits back in the day.

The games that he was responsible for are the pillars that some of the games today stand on. Games like Hang-On, Space Harrier, Out Run, After Burner, Virtua Racing, Virtua Fighter, and Shenmue were pioneers.

But AirTwister is an odd one.

Like A Fever Dream

The story and theme of Air Twister can only be described as fantastical and nonsensical. Its plot unfolds through cutscenes and encyclopaedia entries with every upgrade you unlock. 

However, it is so out of this world and so detached from the game that it doesn’t matter. 

You play as a flying girl with a gun blasting through a gauntlet of enemies ranging from geometric shapes to cephalopods. 

When fighting a boss, the girl would jump on the back of a flying creature like a swan, an iguana, or an elephant and the shooting continues. 

Again, Again?

Air Twister plays like an arcade game that was forced to become a mobile game and had its microtransaction wings clipped because it is an Apple Arcade exclusive. 

The main gameplay loop is simple, just go through the 10 levels as best as you can.  

Rinse and repeat. 

This arcade-like part of the game is fun, but then comes the embellishments. 

Defeating a chain of enemies gets you hearts that unlock the story, upgrades, and cosmetics. There are also daily challenges, unlockable bonus modes, and equipment that all feels tacked on.

Looks Good, Sounds Like Queen

The game looks great on an iPhone, iPad, and even the Apple TV. I can’t deny that Air Twister has a unique setting with a style that is reminiscent of Space Harrier. There is no sense of scale as elements in a level and the creatures that inhabit it are arbitrarily big and small. 

But the first thing that caught my attention when I started up the game was the Bohemian Rhapsody-like rock opera soundtrack. It’s just as odd (and sometimes as annoying) as the story and the world the game is set in. Thankfully there is an option to make the music quieter.

Need For Speed

When it comes to the gameplay, I think two things can be done to improve it. 

First, increase the speed. Everything in Air Twister feels like it needs to be kicked up a notch. The movement and the fly through the level feel slow. It needs to be more exciting. 

Second, fix the controls. By default, in the tutorial, players are taught how to use a finger on the display (or an analogue stick on a controller) to control the character’s movement, targeting, and weapon’s fire. 

Dig into the digital user manual and you’ll find out that you can play the game with two fingers, one for movement, and one for targeting and shooting. This makes it easier to dodge an enemy’s projectile while returning fire.

However, this “advanced” control method is crowded on an iPhone’s display and is unavailable if you use a controller. 

I’d Still Play It Though

Even with its shortcomings, I still occasionally return to Air Twister for a few levels. Still weighing the game was faster, and the controls were better.  

I’d recommend Air Twister to those who are looking for an arcade-like shooter that harkens back to Sega’s glory days.

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