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Yu Suzuki, A Renowned Designer, has released a Crazy Arcade Shooter

Apple Arcade now offers Air Twister.

In Air Twister, there is a lot going on. A weird fantasy world full of armored birds, flying squids, skeletal dragons, floating towns, and malevolent clocks is explored by players in the arcade-style shooter from renowned designer Yu Suzuki, which is now available on Apple Arcade. It was an opportunity for Suzuki, who is best known for his work at Sega on games like Space Harrier, Shenmue, and Virtua Fighter, to create a fantastical world filled with his favorite things. According to him, “It’s a combination of all the various things that I would like to see in a fantasy world.”

Players take on the role of a sci-fi princess battling to preserve her home world in the classic rail shooter Air Twister, which is similar to Panzer Dragoon or Space Harrier. It contains 12 rather brief but densely populated stages, each of which is followed by a huge boss battle. With the inclusion of touch controls, it has the feel of a long-lost Dreamcast game. You may use your fingertips to highlight groups of foes to launch a barrage of strikes. It’s quite gratifying.

Although Air Twister has good gameplay, its absurdly strange setting is what really stands out. Before moving on to stages like a desolate moon, a stark mechanical lair, a big garden full of impossibly huge roses and topiary animals, and a desert full of lethal flying manta rays, you start out flying across a wide ocean with massive mushrooms growing out of it.

Suzuki refers to the world building as a “collage” of concepts and names The NeverEnding Story and artist Michael Parkes as influences. When I began assembling these parts, I wasn’t really consciously thinking about how they would actually fit together in this environment, he says. “At first, it appears like they may not fit together.”

They “simply naturally fit for me.” He claims that part of what made this work was paying attention to “the texture and the density and the color” of the opponents and environments when rendering the images. He explains, “I wanted everything to feel as though it had aged 100 years.”

Similar methods were used to approach the music. The prog rock soundtrack for Air Twister was created by Dutch musician Valensia; according to Suzuki, who has long admired the musician, he even “wanted to have the world fit his music.” Suzuki lacked the connections to make contact, though. He then turned to a chance Facebook message, which was successful. Valensia, in Suzuki’s words, “was entirely on board once he had a feel for the universe we were aiming to build.”

Air Twister does make a few adjustments for contemporary gamers aside from the touch controls. In the game’s main mode, you can earn stars that can be used to unlock new equipment. This equipment can be anything from purely aesthetic enhancements like new haircuts or clothes to actually practical stuff like a shield that activates when your health is low. This structure was created to aid less experienced players in finishing Air Twister because it can get quite difficult.

Despite this, the game still offers an arcade mode with a range of difficulties. Suzuki originally imagined the experience as being similar to inserting quarters into an arcade cabinet in the 1980s, where all you had to rely on was your own talent. He claims, “I intended to make this like a retro arcade game.”

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