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Wii

North America

Gyrostarr

by Jonathan Metts - June 25, 2008, 10:12 pm PDT
Total comments: 10

8

Mine eyes, they burn!

The current WiiWare lineup covers the gamut from casual to hardcore gaming, and Gyrostarr is perhaps the best release yet in the latter category. If I compare it to Tempest, F-Zero, Audiosurf, and even Geometry Wars, perhaps that will give you an idea of how simple and addictive this arcade shooter is.

Gyrostarr is clearly inspired by Tempest at some level, as the gameplay and visual design are both similar. You control a space ship that automatically moves forward (into the screen) at a steadily increasing speed. The goal is to collect enough balls of energy to open a gate at the end of the level; basically, this means the levels are timed. There are tons of enemies in the way, mainly serving as (highly effective) distractions to keep you from collecting the energy balls whizzing by. The presentation makes the game look like F-Zero or Audiosurf, but it's not about racing or music—just shooting and collecting.

Aside from destroying enemies, your shots also push away valuable power-ups and energy balls, making it harder to collect them. Also, you may not want to wait for these items to come down the track, as the enemies will take advantage of your hesitance. That's where the grappling hook comes into play; you can fire it anytime by pressing up or down. It shoots out very far along the track and collects items along the way, allowing you to focus on shooting and dodging enemies for a few seconds. Knowing when to shoot, when to fling out the hook, and when to get out of the way proves to be a satisfying recipe for strategic gameplay.

It doesn't hurt that the game moves at a blistering pace. Gyrostarr eventually builds to such an insane speed that your fingers seem to skip the brain and connect directly to your eyes. I like to call that "twitch", and this game pulls it off extremely well. Bonus levels temporarily disable your guns and hook (and are free of enemies), requiring you to simply collect energy at even more ridiculous velocities than before.

The twisting tracks change shape and sometimes turn transparent, resulting in a clever optical illusion that can throw off your prediction of where the energy will appear. Backgrounds are based on Hubble Space Telescope images (no joke), while the music is spacey techno that gets old quickly. It may not have been possible to generate levels based on music tracks (as in Audiosurf), but custom soundtrack support from the SD card would have been appreciated. This is, after all, the kind of game that makes you want to zone out to your favorite tunes.

The package is rounded out by an interesting offline multiplayer mode with simultaneous cooperative and competitive elements. Up to four players vie for the top score while pooling collected energy to open the gate at the end. You can even line up a certain way for more powerful shots. The 50+ levels don't differ greatly from each other, but the challenge definitely ramps up as you go. Gyrostarr is a high score game at heart, so the lack of online leader boards to compete with distant friends is a shame. Still, fans of arcade-style twitch shooters should get plenty of entertainment out of the game, and it's reasonably priced.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8 5 8 8 7 8
Graphics
8

The ships don't look great up close, but the game runs smoothly at ungodly speeds. Using NASA images for the background is a clever touch, and the real-life nebulae certainly look incredible. Though not terribly important, the HUD is small and difficult to read during intense gameplay.

Sound
5

If you can't provide good music in a size-constrained download, at least let me load up my own songs from the SD card.

Control
8

Left, right, shoot. The controls are effective and so simple that you can play with just a Remote or Nunchuk – or use both for multiplayer on a "single" controller. The optional tilt controls are too sensitive and require a bit too much thinking for this style of gameplay.

Gameplay
8

The real goal of the game –collecting energy– may not be clear if you don't read the instructions in the main menu. However, the gameplay shows surprising depth once you get used to the core concept.

Lastability
7

The game is fairly addictive, especially if high-score games entice you. It's too bad there is no leader board to compete with distant friends, but the local multiplayer mode supports four players (on as few as two Remote+Nunchuk sets) and includes extra rules that set it apart from the lengthy single-player experience.

Final
8

Gyrostarr is a slick take on an old-school formula. Fans of twitchy, arcade-style shooters will find it worthy of a fridge-cleaning to the tune of about 300 blocks.

Summary

Pros
  • Robust local multiplayer
  • Scary fast gameplay
  • Subtle strategic elements
Cons
  • Lacks obvious online features
  • Lame music begs for custom soundtrack
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

GoldenPhoenixJune 26, 2008

I think this review is fair. The game is alot of fun even with its minor flaws and I think everyone should try it out, some of the levels are CRAZY. In some ways it reminds me of Audiosurf, at least when it comes to the look of the levels!

Smoke39June 26, 2008

Gyrostarr isn't very good as a "high score" game.  To maximize your score you have to play through all 50 levels in one sitting because the game only keeps track of the highest level you've gotten to, not your actual progress.  The score multiplier system also isn't very interesting, as avoiding getting hit doesn't introduce any kind of risk/reward setup and is something that you kind of have to do anyway just to stay alive.  The game's length is so long that it isn't really conducive to replaying for the sake of achieving a better score, either.  Considering that every level (at least the 24 that I've played through so far) is practically the same, it might've been better to just shorten the game and further emphasize the high score bit.

Besides that, it is a reasonably fun game.  It has a bunch of little flaws that really add up for me, though.  I think an 8 is too generous, personally.

D_AverageJune 26, 2008

I was going to pick this up until I saw the latest gameplay videos, it just looks too easy.  Additionally, the enemy ships look like fleas, which I just can't tolerate.  However, an 8 is a good score, so perhaps these observations are deceiving.

MorariJune 26, 2008

Doesn't every game beg for a custom soundtrack? I'd like to be able to use those MP3s on my SD Card for something other than Excite Truck, especially since I don't ever play Excite Truck nowadays. That game could have lasted quite a long time in multiplayer, but the stupid vertical split-screen makes it painful to play with others.

I have no need for custom soundtracks in Super Mario Galaxy.  It's something that occurs to me when I play a game with poor music, or more to the point, very little music.  I think it's pretty clear that High Voltage couldn't put a lot of music into the game since it's already pushing the file size limit for WiiWare.  That's when allowing the player to provide music makes the most sense.

AVJune 26, 2008

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

I have no need for custom soundtracks in Super Mario Galaxy.  It's something that occurs to me when I play a game with poor music, or more to the point, very little music.  I think it's pretty clear that High Voltage couldn't put a lot of music into the game since it's already pushing the file size limit for WiiWare.  That's when allowing the player to provide music makes the most sense.

The funny thing is that I just got some mp3s of Tetrisphere so that would fit the game well. OH WELL i have an ipod so I'll just listen to that as I play no problem.

Very fair review I would give it the same score. Solid fun game and $7 a good price.

D_AverageJune 26, 2008

Excite Trucks bad soundtrack has nothing on Nitrobike!

So Jonny, since you can't "SAVE IT FOR THE SHOW," are more more optomistic on The Conduit?

MonteblancoJuly 03, 2008

How this game compares to Star Soldier R? I know they are different beasts but I find hard to justify buying two shooters. I am current favouring Star Soldier only because of the short gameplay, which I think it would be a bonus.

vuduJuly 03, 2008

Quote from: Monteblanco

How this game compares to Star Soldier R? I know they are different beasts but I find hard to justify buying two shooters. I am current favouring Star Soldier only because of the short gameplay, which I think it would be a bonus.

I haven't played either game, but from what I gather, Star Soldier R would probably be better if you're into replaying the same levels multiple times for high scores, while Gyrostarr would be be better if you prefer a longer game with a steady increase in challenge from level to level.  Gyrostarr is long enough that you won't be able to complete it in a single sitting, and apparently your score resets when you turn off the game, so if you pick up during a middle level you'll start back at 0 points.

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Genre Shooter
Developer High Voltage Software
Players1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Gyrostarr
Release Jun 23, 2008
PublisherHigh Voltage Software
RatingEveryone

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