High Voltage proves that they mean business

Posted on June 23, 2008 at 1:36 pm by Jeff Pawlak

High Voltage's sheer determination to truly utilize the Wii for all it is may just be onto something, because their first ever outing for the system is easily Wiiware's best title yet.

Gyrostarr could be described as F-Zero meets the Star Soldier series, with a bunch of new tricks here and there. The object of the game is to race down a series of canals in the middle of space, collecting orbs of energy while fending off enemy crafts and gathering powerups. Each time you grab a glob of energy, you'll fill up the meter at the top of the screen a little bit. Once you get it past the targeted mark for the level, you'll pass through the final conduit and move onto the next stage.

However, should you have hoarded more energy than was required, you may have enough to enter the Bonus Stage. Every single level has one of these, and they're used to help you collect extra energy for the next stage as well as powerups. There are no enemies on any of these, so some people may be turned off by them, but luckily they're much shorter than normal levels. Of course, this is because they move extremely fast, so trying to align yourself correctly and actually pick up the various items becomes a task in itself. All of this adds up to a pretty neat take on the shoot 'em up genre, which still has the ability to appeal to gamers who aren't thrilled by bullet-hell titles.

One thing that Gyrostarr does retain though from those types of games is a nasty difficulty. The first few levels are easy to breeze though, but eventually the challenge picks up and you'll find yourself battling for your life. The speed of the stages will gradually increase over time, and as the game goes on more and more enemies will be present. The problem that this creates is that when your ship gets destroyed, you don't lose a life or anything; rather you lose a notable chunk from your energy meter. And see, there's a time limit on every level, so if you don't have the required amount of energy when you hit that final conduit, you go BOOM. Mission failed.

While on the topic of challenge, it's best to note that you should use the traditional control scheme for the game. There's motion sensing available, in the style of Wii racers where you'll tilt the remote sideways to move your ship in that direction, but it's very hard to keep full control, and more than often you'll send yourself flying to the every edge of the canal or failing to perfectly align yourself with whatever item you want to grab. Unless you have incredibly steady hands, don't bother with the frustration, just stick to traditional controls.

A big perk to Gyrostarr is the impressive audio/visuals of the game. The wide array of colors may be a bit much at times, but it's hard to deny that the spacey environments look cool. Your average computerized lady is your announcer, spitting out one-liners when you pick up a new item or get a boost, but the music is much more interesting. There's a bunch of different techno beats that play as you race down the canals, and all of them are fittingly peppy for this intense experience.

Probably what is most admirable about Gyrostarr is its value. There's a whopping fifty levels in the game (and each one can be played individually after you beat it), along with the fifty bonus levels. What more, there's multiplayer for up to four players, and to say the least that can be a very entertaining way to spend an hour or two. All of this would suffice for the usual 1000 point 'good' Wiiware game, but instead Gyrostarr will only cost you 700 points. Whether it was Nintendo or High Voltage that chose this pricing point, they definitely handed out a bargain to the fans.

Final Verdict - 9/10

If there was ever a time to go out and buy a Wii Points card, this is it. High Voltage has provided a truly great third party effort to sit alongside titles like My Life as a King, LostWinds and Toki Tori. Gyrostarr provides a fresh, challenging experience that you could be playing for some time. This is the kind of game that makes Wiiware a worthwhile feature, and shows that good hardcore games can be made for the system in any size.