|System: WiiWare||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: High Voltage Software||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: High Voltage Software||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 23, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Picture this: you're strapped into the cockpit of a high-powered rocket ship thundering full-bore down a winding, half-pipe track towards what essentially amounts to a giant brick wall. Your route is populated with robotic enemies that take pot-shots at your rig and make every attempt to thwart your progress. In between dodging laser fire, you'll have to maneuver your vessel to pick up enough stray energy orbs to charge up the jump gate at the end of the course. Make your energy quota and you'll live to fly another day. Fail in this critical task and you'll meet an explosive fate as the fiery impact obliterates you into nothingness. Welcome to Gyrostarr.
The WiiWare releases thus far can be divided fairly equally between the reasonably awesome pile, the mediocre and overpriced pile, and complete and utter crap pile. There haven't been a lot of major winners, but more than half of the 15 or so games on the service have escaped (by varying margins) being a complete disappointment. In the first month since WiiWare's official launch we've already seen two rather bland top-down space shooters come and go. Though Gyrostarr, developed by High Voltage Software, is a slightly different animal, the space shooter theme finally prevails with this one. Priced on the lower-end of the scale, it's a worthy investment of your time and 700 Wii Points.
It's a shame Gyrostarr contains absolutely no plot or story elements whatsoever. When you take a moment to think about the foundation of the game, it practically begs for some form of explanation. Why would you be rocketing towards your impending doom with nothing more of a safety net than the random balls of energy you have to pick up along the way? What's your motivation? Are you deranged? Do you possess a death wish? Are you walking the path of vengeance? Is it some kind of sick spectator sport? It's anybody's guess. The game's arcade feel all but renders this argument moot. Still, even a few paragraphs of text about some sort of intergalactic conflict or whatnot would have sufficed.
Gyrostarr is a nod to classic tube shooters like Gyruss and Tempest, from which it borrows more than a few gameplay ideas, but it also brings in other touches into the fold. Each course drops your ship on a moving track (featuring a solid variety of shapes, colors, and designs between the game's many levels) where you'll slowly build up speed as you follow behind a moving portal that lays down the course in front of you. While dodging attacks from waves of enemy ships emerging from the portal, you'll also have to quickly dart around to pick up oncoming energy spheres. A meter at the top of the screen simultaneously tracks your progress through the course and the level of energy you've gathered. If you don't gather enough energy by the time you reach the end of the course, the aperture of the final warp portal will close and BOOM.
The twitchy action-shooter also has a strong racing game vibe, though there are no real racing elements present in the actual gameplay. This feeling crops up primarily in the bonus tracks found after each of the game's 50 levels. Completely devoid of enemies, bonus courses are particularly windy and much faster than the regular levels. As you blast along the track, you'll struggle to pick up energy spheres and extra bombs in hopes of amassing a surplus to carry over into the next level with. The sheer velocity reached in these sections reaches dizzying speeds and may cause your eye's to hurt. The main gameplay areas feel sluggish by comparison.