It took what felt like several eternities for Yu Suzuki to release his last dream project, the teases and trials that led up to the eventual release of Shenmue 3 spanning over a decade. It’s wild, then, that his next dream project – a return to his 80s arcades roots, and an explicitly styled spiritual successor to none other than Space Harrier – was revealed and released within the space of a month; wilder still, Air Twister’s every bit as much a Suzuki joint as the epic Shenmue 3, and it’s a small shame its arrival has met with a muted response because this is clearly the work of a master.
Actually, scratch that, it’s the work of the master – forgive the breathless enthusiasm, but how else to meet a rare new game from the pioneer behind Out Run, After Burner and Virtua Fighter – and it’s thrilling to see Suzuki to the kind of basic yet bombastic action that made his name in the arcades. It’s an ’80s revival that to my arcade-obsessed mind is every bit as exciting as Top Gun Maverick, though this is clearly a much more modest project.
Air Twister is an on-rails shooter that shares the simplicity of Space Harrier, while at the same time folding in some of the features introduced by the many games inspired by Suzuki’s 1985 original. This is a tap shooter, quintessentially, with a lock-on you can paint by touch that feels akin to Panzer Dragoon, while elsewhere the pace of movement has been slowed from the whip-quick Space Harrier to something a bit more sedate to give space to the new control scheme.