RayStorm review (iPad/iOS)
Out of all of Taito’s classic shooters, aside from the Space Invaders offerings, I really have an admiration for RayStorm. First released on the PS One long ago (through Working Designs), the game’s grown on me with its Zuntana-produced soundtrack, strong 3D graphics (running at 60 frames-per-second — no small feat for such a detailed shooter) and plenty of action on two levels of play.
Since that time, RayStorm has seen a pair of re-releases. It made its way to Xbox Live Arcade months ago in high-definition format with good results, and now it’s available on the Apple App Store for iPad and iPhone models, the latest in Taito’s retro releases. While the cost is questionable, the fun you’ll have with this shooter certainly isn’t.
In the game, you’re a lone spaceship (out of select models available) fighting against the nasty Secilia Federation, who have plans for Earth. Your attacks are divided between blasting enemies in the skies and locking on to targets below. It’s a variation of the Xevious process, but the lock-on lasers for both models work more effectively than Namco’s game did. Furthermore, you also have a special attack that you can charge up, obliterating all targets on-screen with very little effort. (We recommend saving it for bosses, as they can be tough hombres.)
Taito has modified RayStorm to work with touch-screen gameplay, and it’s very responsive, though you have to hold your device in wide-screen format to play it. That’s for the better, as you’ve got more room to maneuver your ship that way. In addition, the company has thrown in a slew of options, including separate Arcade and iPhone Modes. These not only have their own settings and stage select screens, but completely different Zuntana soundtracks, including a sweet remixed one. (The original is good, too.)
The game also supports GameCenter, so you can post your best scores to compare with others and unlock Achievements for certain areas of the game. Sadly, that’s about it on extras, and for a game that sells for around nine bucks, that may be a bit much to ask for.
Still, RayStorm retains every bit of its retro-flavored splendor, especially in the graphics. What they lack in the high-definition polish that most Cave shooters have these days, they make up for with well-restored graphics from the original game, as well as good-looking explosions and an array of backgrounds to fly through. Deep space is particularly my favorite, as you can obliterate ships from a distance with lock-on lasers while still contending with forces right in front of you.
If you’re a shooter fan who has collected every shmup in the Cave collection among other available titles, RayStorm will fit right in your collection — right alongside its prequel, RayForce. The high price and lack of extras or HD support might have some of you thinking it’s a bit too ancient, but better to restore something that was fine the way it was rather than tinker with it and screw it up. Now we just hope that RayCrisis gets equal treatment somewhere down the line…