Going down a storm
A few months ago, I reviewed Rayforce – Taito’s classic arcade shooter. So when I looked at my 582 strong list of games to review this week and saw Rayforce on there again, I was a little confused.
I was just about to shrug my shoulders and hit ‘Copy & Paste’ when I re-read the list and realised it didn’t say RayFORCE, but RaySTORM. I can only imagine what kind of trouble I could’ve ended up in if I’d continued. But I’m sure you’ll agree it’s an easy mistake to make. Both words have ‘Ray’ in them you see. Very disorienting.
So Raystorm is the sequel to the top-down arcade shooter, Rayforce, originally released in arcades and Playstation in 1996. In my first review I made a bit of a deal of the fact it cost £7.99, and I’m happy to see Raystorm costs a slightly more sensible £5.99. Still a little expensive, but leaves me with enough change to buy groceries for another day or so. Gaming, then family, I’ve got my priorities straight alright.
With this being a follow-up, everything is pretty similar, as you would expect, but there are a few tweaks which make it altogether a more enjoyable experience. And that’s not just because I was able to get further in this one.
The most obvious shift is with the graphics, or rather, the perspective. The models themselves are pretty much the same – nice enough in a retro way, but still a little rough around the edges and in need of an update. But whereas Force was strictly viewed from above, Storm opens the world out into 3D. You’re still on rails, but the effect is much more immersive as the levels twist, turn and swoop to brilliant effect. They may not be fully utilising the retina display, but the way this moves, you won’t mind. There were times where I actually thought I was in a fighter plane battling aliens, but then became acutely aware I was traveling to work on the train. The power of iPhone gaming.
The addition of digitised speech at the beginning of each stage is also something that increases the level of polish (that’s polish as in sheen, not Polish as in Krakow) and would’ve got me all excited back in 96. The soundtrack is what you would expect from an arcade game from nearly 20 years ago – random synth chords thrown together to make something completely bonkers and weirdly enjoyable to listen to. A bit like my Wife’s singing voice.
Gameplay is also similar to the previous title which means enemies attacking from air and ground, and you with enough firepower to deal with both. Two game modes again make an appearance. The first is iPhone, an optimised mode with specific enemy placement, difficulty settings and strangely enough, different colours. (Perhaps Taito have discovered iOS gamers are fond of fuchsia gunships). Second is Arcade mode, which is pretty much what you would’ve found in the arcade cabinet, complete with original intro. It’s also harder. Not for me then.
You can choose between two different ships each with their own weapon strengths – one has wide firing lasers and a special attack that locks onto eight enemies at a time and the other has linear, but more powerful lasers which can lock on to twice as many enemies. A couple more ships with some more variations would’ve gone down well. Perhaps a ship that turned into an ice cream or something.
Two control methods round out the options and provide either manual or auto fire. Bother not with the manual mode unless you want to torture yourself. It’s not hard to use, but concentrating solely on flying is much more fun and suited to the format. Simply swipe where you want the ship to go while the game blasts everything in sight for you. There are also four levels of Hard, plus a Very Hard difficulty level. You’re not going to play this type of game unless you have a penchant for pain.
With the increasing number of old-school arcade shooters making their way onto iOS, Raystorm stands out as a worthy sequel, with better presentation, slicker graphics and sound and even a friendlier price point than it’s predecessor. If, unlike some games reviewers, the words ’Force’ and ‘Storm’ don’t put your job in jeopardy, it’s well worth a pick up.
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Raystorm is available for £5.99 as a universal app. Get it now on the