We fondly recall playing Taito's arcade shooter, RayStorm, on the original PlayStation in the late 90s, happily sitting in front of our televisions frying swarms of enemies with laser beams and all-powerful special attacks. Suffice to say, it's been more than 10 years since we rescued Earth from the diabolical Secilia Federation, and with that being said, we're pleased to see the game alive and well on the App Store. Why Taito and Square Enix insist we pay $8.99 for it is anyone's guess.
RayStorm is in fact one of three Ray games, and like its counterparts, sends you on a thrilling journey filled with a plethora of enemies to annihilate, from tiny fighters and tanks to imposing robots and other mechanical threats. It's quite entertaining, overall, as the two ships (R-GRAY1, R-GRAY 2) soar across installations on Earth, zip past large bodies of water and hurtle through space, weaving between enemy bullets and causing all manner of destruction; we love the way both spacecraft automatically lock onto targets in the air and on the ground. If you dig sci-fi and watching things explode, you came to the right place.
To that end, the iPhone edition was tweaked slightly for the mobile crowd. A new iPhone mode features optimizations, with revised enemy placements, difficulty and colors. There's also Game Center support, should you feel inclined to unlock achievements and battle for leaderboard supremacy. Beyond that, touch controls help guide the ships, and you should have no problem getting the hang of things.
By and large, though, this is the same RayStorm we know and love, with the original Arcade mode here to boot. With this in mind, Taito did little to spruce up the visuals, electing to display the pixelated graphics in all their jagged glory. Although we would have preferred a facelift, there's something to be said for kicking it old school.
Unfortunately, there's no full-screen iPad support, which may or may not be a deal breaker for some. If this turns you off, can't say we blame you, since many free and $0.99 games are universal. Hey, at nine bucks, Taito should have delivered it.
Ultimately, the price is RayStorm's biggest issue. We can debate the game's overall quality, we think it's quite good, but at the end of the day, it's a tough shooter to recommend with such a high barrier to entry. A satisfying interstellar trek, but one that comes with sticker shock.
Review code provided by Square Enix.
What's Hot: Eight zones to blast your way through, you can play levels out of sequence, iPhone and Arcade modes, excellent touch controls, Game Center leaderboards and achievements, cool music.
What's Not: Ridiculously overpriced, no graphical upgrades.