Review: Gyrostarr (Nintendo Wii)

Genre: Shoot ’em Up
Developer: High Voltage Software
Publisher: High Voltage Software
Release Date: 06/23/08

Remember arcades? Think back to when you could spend lots of time and/or money sitting in front of the same game that, while it may not have been the most immersive or complicated, was certainly a good and genuinely fun way to pass the time between school and dinner. Time that would have otherwise been spent doing chores. Screw chores.

That was my first impression from Gyrostarr. It was simple, fun and addictive, just like your average arcade shooter. The question is, is the game fun enough to justify buying it or is it just a tribute to a bygone era of gaming?

Gyrostarr is the story of Dex Starburst, a mercenary who uses his super-fast spaceship to reclaim poliplasma from the evil Sardissian Empire, which had stolen this precious fuel from your home planet of Fendar, and without it, your people are suffering. Ok, that’s not really true. There is no actual “story” to this game, you just get into your ship and start blasting the bejeebers out of anything that moves. It’s fun to imagine what the story would be, though. It’s easy, too; I’m not even a sci-fi fan and I pulled that out of thin air. It doesn’t sound half bad.

Anyway, my own embarrassing nerditude aside, the game is pretty simple. You pick a ship – the only difference between them is the color – and speed along a 3-Dish tunnel/track shooting at other ships and collecting energy balls. Collecting enough energy balls by the end of the track allows you to travel through a warp portal to the next level. Not collecting enough causes you to crash into it and die. Filling up your energy bar all the way will transport you to a bonus stage where you try to pick up as much energy as you can while traveling at about mach 30. It’s one of the more dizzying video game levels I’ve ever played.

The levels start out slow, but speed up as you move on. There are speed boosting portals on the track, which may also destroy all the enemies onscreen. There are 50 levels to play, but there’s not too much variation between them. The enemies get stronger as you go along, but it’s not impossible. The simple, “shoot everything and get to the end of the stage” gameplay can get a little boring for some people rather quickly. It’s still fun and fast paced, though.

The graphics are great for a little DLC game like this. The backgrounds are clear, colorful and realistic, as if you’re really rocketing through space. The music is alright; just generic techno that I honestly don’t notice while I’m playing.

There is a pretty extensive list of control options for this game. You can use the Wiimote held sideways, using the D-pad, the nunchuk’s control stick, the control stick on the classic controller, or motion controls by tilting the Wiimote to the left or right, again held sideways, or tilting the nunchuk to the left or right. Think that’s enough? The non-motion-controlled methods are easier to use, but you didn’t buy a Wii to not use motion controls, did you? The motion controls are way more fun, if a little tough to get used to. The nunchuk motion control in particular works very well, as it feels like an arcade joystick. You just need to be patient in moving the thing around, as jerking the nunchuk or Wiimote will cause you to dash all over the stage, probably causing you to miss a power-up or crash into an enemy. You can also combine the Wiimote with the nunchuk or classic controller if you’re playing multiplayer mode.

Speaking of multiplayer, the game supports four player simultaneous gameplay, but no online gameplay. You can play cooperatively, helping each other to gain power-ups to complete the stage, or competitively, trying to keep the other player from gaining power-ups. You could say that lack of online play is a detriment in this generation of gaming, but Gyrostarr is a game that doesn’t need it. It’s the kind of game you play another person in the room so you can high five/ punch them in the arm depending on how you play, and that’s something you can’t recreate with someone halfway across the world from you. Multiplayer doesn’t add much, but it’s a nice change of pace if you get tired of playing by yourself.

Enemies drop an array of offensive and defensive power-ups, ranging from rapid-fire shots and triple-shots to invincibility and slowing the enemies down. You can shoot power-ups to move them up the level if you can’t pick them up right away, or if you don’t want your opponent picking them up. You are also given a grappling hook to draw power-ups towards you. The power-ups are limited, as they disappear after several seconds. They might help if you’re getting desperate, but sometimes it’s easier to concentrate on picking up energy and blowing things up with your default weapon.

That’s really it. Like I said, the game is really simple. It’s just the same thing 50 times over. There are no boss battles or upgrades, or anything like that. There’s just you, your ship, energy balls, and a whole army of bad guys in between. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun, but it’s really nothing to write home about. In fact, there’s not much to write about at all. I really have nothing left to say about it.

So hey, in honor of Mega Man 9, here’s a list of the top 5 franchises that could use new sequels on some DLC service:

1. Blaster Master
2. Adventure Island
3. Ghosts & Goblins
4. Alex Kidd
5. EarthBound ok, you’re right; that won’t happen.

The Scores
Story/Modes: MEDIOCRE
Graphics: VERY GOOD
Control/Gameplay: GREAT
Replayability: DECENT
Originality: ENJOYABLE
Addicitiveness: ABOVE AVERAGE
Appeal: GOOD
Miscellaneous: DREADFUL

Final Score:Above Average Game

Short Attention Span Summary

Gyrostarr is a fun little shooter, but it’s not much else. It looks great and controls great, but it can get repetitive very quickly. Still, if you’re looking for a fun way to kill 20 or so minutes, you could do worse with your 700 Wii Points, and it’s certainly better than Star Soldier R.

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