Legendary designer Yu Suzuki returns with a wild arcade shooter

A lot of things are happening in Air whirlwind. The arcade-style shooter from legendary designer Yu Suzuki is available today on Apple Arcade and thrusts players through a strange fantasy world filled with armored birds, flying squids, skeletal dragons, floating cities, and evil clocks. For Suzuki, best known for his work at Sega on games like space eagle, shenmueY virtual fighter, it was an opportunity to build a fantasy universe full of things he loved. “It’s an amalgamation of all the different things I’d like to see in a fantasy world,” she says. the edge.

whirlwind of air is a classic rail shooter: think space eagle either Panzer Dragon – where players take on the role of a sci-fi princess fighting to save her home world. It has 12 stages, which are relatively short but full of enemies and punctuated by gigantic boss battles. It feels like a long-lost Dreamcast game but with the modern addition of touch controls; you can highlight swarms of enemies with your fingertips to fire off a barrage of attacks. It is very satisfying.

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Yu Suzuki at E3 2015
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The gameplay is solid, but the most striking thing about whirlwind of air it’s his downright weird world. You start by flying across a vast ocean from which huge mushrooms grow before moving on to settings including a barren moon, an austere mechanical lair, a giant garden filled with impossibly large roses and ornamental animals, and a desert filled with deadly fliers. manta rays

Suzuki describes the world building as a “collage” of ideas, citing influences such as artist Michael Parkes and film. The endless story. “At first, it seems like they might not fit together, and as he was putting these parts together, he wasn’t consciously thinking about how they would fit into this world,” he explains. “For me, they just fit naturally.” Part of doing this job, she says, was focusing on “the texture, density, and color” of landscapes and enemies when rendering the images. “I wanted everything to feel like it was 100 years old,” she explains.

Music was approached in a similar way. whirlwind of air features a progressive rock soundtrack by Dutch composer Valensia; Suzuki says that he has been a fan of the musician for a long time and even “wanted the world to adapt to his music.” But Suzuki had no contacts to help him get in touch. So he resorted to a random Facebook message, and it worked. “Once he had an idea of ​​the world we were trying to create, he was totally on board,” Suzuki says of Valensia.

In addition to touch controls, whirlwind of air makes some concessions to modern gamers. In its main mode, you can collect stars, which can then be used to unlock new items, ranging from cosmetic upgrades like new hairstyles or outfits to really useful gear like a protective shield that kicks in when your health gets low. Given the whirlwind of air can be quite challenging, this structure is designed to help less skilled players get to the end.

That said, the game still has a more traditional arcade mode with varying degrees of difficulty. Much like if you were putting quarters into an arcade cabinet in the ’80s, here you only have your own skill to rely on, which is how Suzuki initially envisioned the experience. “I wanted to make this like an old-school arcade game,” he says.

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