RayForce Review

Our Review by Lisa Caplan on January 19th, 2012
Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar :: BUDGET BREAKER
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RayForce is a true port, in the best and worse sense, but is the quasi-classic SHMUP worth the asking price?

Developer: TAITO

Price: $11.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarblankstarblankstarblankstar
Game Controls Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar

Square Enix via TAITO has ported 1993’s hit arcade shooter, RayForce to iOS. I was going to rant about the price tag, a whopping $11.99, but today’s release by NamcoBandai of SOULCALIBUR at the same price may indicate that as major gamehouses shift their thinking from console-only to mobile they intend to raise triple-A game base prices - and consumer expectations for same. Notwithstanding, RayForce, while true to the original and enhanced for iOS in one significant way, is not worth the asking price whether we are looking at a $.99 or $19.99 App Store paradigm.

There is a backstory, not that we need one for a vertical SHMUP, but earth has been invaded in some not too distant future and the artificial intelligence has run amok. The gamer is tasked with destroying everything in its path to save humanity.

Like most old school arcade ports, the difficulty level is pretty high. The game offers the traditional arcade controls, which, frankly, work abysmally, and new iPhone touch controls that are solid allowing the gamer to freely move the ship around the screen.

But, that brings up a big issue. The screen real estate, and the resulting point of view, are woefully limited. It's pretty easy to get through the Galaga-like attacks, but spotting, much less shooting tanks as they blend into the background turns the game into a blind bullet hell affair. On the bright side, both auto or manual shooting are offered which changes difficulty level dramatically, and the music has a pretty nice groove.

Shoot ‘em up’s are shoot ‘em ups, however, so perhaps judging RayForce for being true to genre is unfair. What is most disappointing, however, are the graphics. They have not only been left largely unaltered, which may appeal for a moment to nostalgic 30-somethings, but they have been left unenhanced as well and look washed out and tired, not classic and retinized.

This game may be a AAA title for the gaming giant, but it is 13 years old, putting it somewhere in the hinterlands between classic and dated. At $2.99 or even $5.99 for a universal build (which this is not) I would say it’s worth having for fans of the original and of the genre, but at the current price, I’d give this a miss - at least until it goes on sale.

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