Review by SMBSuperShowFan

"Does Gyrostarr Shine Bright?"

High Voltage Software is the little company that could. Throughout their life they made poorly produced licensed games, and the company is notorious for making the game adaptation of “White Men Can't Jump” which is often called one of the worst games in history. It's almost on par with the Atari E.T. game, yeah, it's that bad. But then a glorious thing happened, Nintendo released it's latest gaming console, the Wii. When High Voltage Software saw this new concept and instantly came up with some great ideas for the console, and after a while, after seeing all the shovelware produced for Wii, they wanted to do something truly outstanding, so they began production on The Conduit. The Conduit was a brand new IP, not a licensed game, and they intended to work on this game on their own, and not let a publisher get in the way. With their new Quantum3 engine they could do amazing things that the Wii never saw before, however, to make this possible they needed some extra funding. Enter Wiiware. Wiiware would be a low risk playground High Voltage Software could use to produce some small scope games to bring in some cash. Their first venture in the Wiiware world was Gyrostarr.

Gyrostarr at its core is a shoot ‘em up. It's not a conventional shoot ‘em up that we're used to though. Rather than it being a vertical shooter that we're all accustomed to Gyrostarr presents limited movement. The game is played on-rails and you control a ship that is riding through space. Rather than flying through space however, you're on a tubular shaped track. You can move your ship from left to right on this tube, and slide on the walls. The main objective of the game is to collect energy orbs that are scattered throughout the levels. Enemy ships will try to stop you though. There are different types of enemies that will try to stop you. There are regular peon ships which can be taken out pretty easily, tank like enemies that have higher defense but don't put up much of a threat offense wise, and then there are enemies similar to the peons except they have shields and it takes more damage to destroy them. These usually come in large groups so to take them all out will get extremely hectic. Sometimes power ups will appear in the level, or they come from destroyed enemies, these will make your attacks stronger. Some of them include; triple shot, which lets you shoot three lasers at a time, making the range of your attack wider, and another example is the rapid shot which works like conventional shooters where you are able to continually shoot. You can also collect bombs, which will blow up all the enemies on the screen at the time. And finally, there is the grappling hook. You have the grappling hook with you at all times, you can use it to extend out and reach energy orbs or power ups that may be far away.

Spread throughout the track are portals, entering one of these portals will grant you with a speed boost. As you begin to gain speed it becomes harder and harder to collect the items. At the top of the screen is a progress HUD. It displays how much health you have left(you start out with three), how many bombs you have(you can have up to three), a line that shows you how far you are through the level, and that same line shows you how much energy you've collected. Each energy orb you collect it adds some fill to the progress bar. There are two portals displayed on this progress bar. If the energy you've collected exceeds the first portal then you will be granted access to the next level. However, if your energy exceeds the second portal you will be granted access to a bonus stage before you move on to the next level. In these bonus stages you will not be able to shoot, use bombs, or use your grappling hook. All you can do is move around. It's up to you to collect enough energy orbs to open up the portals. If you do well enough in these bonus stages you'll gain a little extra energy at the start of the next stage you move on to. It'll also award you with some bonus points. There are fifty levels in this game(100 if you count bonus stages) but they don't differ for the most part. Level fifty will look very similar to level five. However, the noticeable difference from stage to stage is the increase in difficulty. When you first start the enemies will not come in large numbers and their attacks will not be as threatening and can be easily dodged. However, as the difficulty becomes ramped up there will be enemies in larger numbers, with higher defenses, with more attacks that will be harder to destroy and harder to dodge, that's where the entertainment of the game comes from, the continual increase in difficulty.

The game can be controlled two different ways, the first set up is without motion, and the second is with motion. Either way, you'll be holding the wiimote NES style. Motion controls are basically the same, save for moving. You tilt the control to move, but the other buttons for attacking and grappling are virtually the same. This set up is best kept off. In Gryostarr, precision is key, especially in the bonus levels. It's crucial that you be in the right position to collect the energy orbs, or be in the correct line of fire to destroy enemies. If the game offered a wider range of movement the controls may be better, but with the simple left to right directions they don't work. In bonus levels it's hard to swerve to the left at the last minute to collect the energy orb or you might move too far in a regular level and miss your target. When the levels begin to get bullet hellish it's important that you know where you're going. When you use the non motion set up you use the right and left arrows on the d-pad to move right and left respectively, the up arrow on the d-pad is for your grappling hook, the 1 button uses your bombs, and the 2 button is to shoot.

One of the main attractions to Gyrostarr is the graphics. It's running on the Quantum3 engine from High Voltage Software which is now famous for pushing the limitations of Wii and adding features to the game that other developers haven't tried yet. However, since this is a Wiiware game there is a strict size limitation of 30 megabytes for the game so the graphics won't be as impressive as say, The Conduit, or the upcoming The Grinder. However, comparing this to other Wiiware offerings it's quite impressive looking, especially the bonus levels. The backgrounds are pretty stunning and the ships are detailed. But other than that, there's really not much to this game to show off the graphics. The music is pretty generic catalog music, but it matches with the theme and setting well, it's just not terribly memorable.

Gyrostarr gets a 7.5 out of 10 for being graphically impressive, but not doing anything amazing. There are over one hundred levels present in the game, but they're all the same. Each level starts slow but ends at a fast pace, which is great, but it'd be even better if that pace didn't stop just because the level ended. If only the game's speed only kept ramping up as the game went on, and not just the level. It's not as fun going at maximum speed at level forty nine, only to come to a complete stop and being back at a slow pace at the beginning of level fifty(the last level). There is fun to be had in the game, and for it's low price of entry it's worth the time to look at.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 07/15/09, Updated 07/15/09

Game Release: Gyrostarr (US, 06/23/08)

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