Legendary designer Yu Suzuki returns with a wild arcade shooter
There’s lots happening in Air Tornado. The arcade-style shooter from legendary designer Yu Suzuki is out in the present day on Apple Arcade, and it pushes gamers via an odd fantasy world stuffed with armored birds, flying squids, skeletal dragons, floating cities, and evil clocks. For Suzuki, who’s greatest identified for his work at Sega on video games like Area Harrier, Shenmue, and Virtua Fighter, it was an opportunity to construct a fantasy universe stuffed with issues he cherished. “It’s an amalgamation of all the various things that I wish to see in a fantasy world,” he tells The Verge.
Air Tornado is a traditional rail shooter — assume Area Harrier or Panzer Dragoon — the place gamers tackle the function of a sci-fi princess combating to avoid wasting her house world. It has 12 phases, that are comparatively brief however filled with enemies and punctuated by gigantic boss battles. It appears like a long-lost Dreamcast recreation however with the fashionable addition of contact controls; you possibly can spotlight swarms of enemies together with your fingertips to fireplace off a volley of assaults. It’s very satisfying.
The gameplay is strong, however probably the most placing factor about Air Tornado is its downright weird world. You begin out hovering throughout an enormous ocean with large mushrooms rising out of it earlier than shifting on to phases that embrace a barren moon, a stark mechanical lair, an enormous backyard stuffed with impossibly big roses and topiary animals, and a desert stuffed with lethal flying manta rays.
Suzuki describes the worldbuilding as a “collage” of concepts, citing influences just like the artist Michael Parkes and the movie The NeverEnding Story. “At first, it looks like they might not match collectively, and as I used to be placing these components collectively, I wasn’t actually consciously enthusiastic about how they’d truly match collectively on this world,” he explains. “For me, they only naturally match.” A part of making this work, he says, was specializing in “the feel and the density and the colour” of the landscapes and enemies when rendering the visuals. “I needed every part to really feel as if it was aged 100 years,” he explains.
The music was approached in an identical manner. Air Tornado includes a prog rock soundtrack from Dutch composer Valensia; Suzuki says that he’s been a long-time fan of the musician and even “needed to have the world match his music.” However Suzuki had no connections to assist him get involved. So he resorted to a random Fb message — and it labored. “As soon as he obtained a really feel for the world we had been making an attempt to create, he was completely on board,” Suzuki says of Valensia.
Apart from the contact controls, Air Tornado does make just a few concessions for contemporary gamers. In its principal mode, you possibly can gather stars, which might then be used to unlock new objects, starting from beauty upgrades like new hairstyles or outfits to genuinely helpful gear like a protecting protect that kicks in when your well being will get low. On condition that Air Tornado can get fairly difficult, this construction is designed to assist less-skilled gamers make it to the top.
That stated, the sport nonetheless has a extra conventional arcade mode with various levels of issue. Similar to in the event you had been shoving quarters into an arcade cupboard within the ’80s, right here you solely have your individual talent to depend on — which is how Suzuki initially envisioned the expertise. “I needed to make this like an old-school arcade recreation,” he says.