RayForce in Review – Awesome but short and pricey…

I’m always on the lookout for the perfect scrolling shooter and I’m beginning to think such a beast doesn’t exist.  Fortunately, while not as a whole unblemished, RayForce has many of the qualities I’d expect in my ideal candidate.  On the other hand, it has a couple of big discretions that actually push it back below some of my favorite iOS jaunts.  So enough with the opening paragraph rhetoric already, let’s find out what this game is all about!

Rayforce is actually a remake of a 1993 arcade game released by Taito, and from the opening sequence where you take out fighters being launched from star-destroyer style craft ala Star Wars, you know this game is going to be different.  The first feature you’ll come to appreciate is the segments like the opening battle where the game actually uses layering as something more significant than just a visual effect.  If you are skillful enough you can clear away some waves of enemies before they reach the main level so that they can never attack you.  Sometimes you even have to destroy enemies on a different level which requires your targeted missiles (your main guns don’t reach other levels).

The game has 7 levels and two modes: arcade and iPhone.  I’ve played through them both, and to be perfectly honest I’m not really sure what the difference between them is, though I thoroughly enjoyed both runs through.  The levels are well designed and there are a couple of pretty interesting adversaries along the way.  I especially liked the bosses, which proved that you can be challenging without completely flooding the screen with bullets.  Control consists of moving the spaceship with your finger and nothing else if firing is set to auto.  If you set firing to manual you can stop and start your main gun by pressing the shot button and launch your missiles by pressing the laser button.  If your expecting some button mashing action, however, you still won’t get that on manual mode.

The biggest problem with the game is that it’s too short.  Unless you have willpower and refrain from hitting the continue button, you’ll breeze through the action in about 20 minutes.  This ties in directly with the next thought, and that is that Rayforce is too easy.  An easy option is fine, but there should be difficulty settings for the more discerning user.  Maybe have the option to limit the number of or completely remove continues.  They also need the option to resume a level if you have to quit the game.  I know you can start at any given level, but then you lose out on the feeling of playing “all the way through”.  Of course, given how little time it takes to complete the entire game, I suppose this isn’t really necessary.  In that case, just give me an “extended” version of the game with longer levels!

The game looks good.  The backgrounds are pretty slick, and it’s clear that some thought went into much of the ship design.  You can play the game in full screen or “original” mode, and while the graphics are certainly crisper in the cropped mode they are also harder to see simply because they are smaller.  I think original mode on an iPad would be the ideal setting.  The one thing I really don’t like is the color scheme, which often tends to hurt my eyes.  As has become my standard sentiment, the audio is pretty much what you’d expect from this type of game.  There are some muddled Tron-like voices from time to time that are kind of cool, but they’d be even better if you could understand more clearly what they say.  The music, on the other hand, is great.  Each level has its own theme, and they do a good job of conveying a multitude of different moods.

The layered game play was certainly the high point of Rayforce, and almost makes it worth playing for that element alone.  Unfortunately, it’s kind of hard to justify spending $11.99 for a half hour to hour’s worth of game play, even if it is as fun as Rayforce.  I know this is supposed to be a faithful recreation of the arcade phenomenon, but an extended mode with additional game time is almost mandatory.  And, given the fact that there are a number of stellar shooters on the App Store for $2.99 or less, a price reduction certainly seems in order as well.

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: RayForce Developer: TAITO Corporation
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 4.0
Price: $11.99 App Size:
  • “Layered” concept is really cool
  • Intense, fun action
  • Well designed visuals
  • Great music
  • Levels are too short
  • No settings to make game harder
  • Color schemes not so great
  • Too expensive


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