Even before Square Enix announced today’s release of RayStorm for iPhone and iPod touch, I was planning to send them some love. I spent quite a bit of time at their booth at E3 2012, hanging out in the darkened corner reserved for iOS games. These games weren’t part of their presentations, but they’re still worth of a sneak peak. First, though…
RayStorm is the second installment in their space shooting trilogy from the ’90s. It began with RayForce (the iOS version of which is on sale for $5.99 through July 6th) and ended with RayCrisis. In between the two, there’s RayStorm, which has been faithfully recreated on the iPhone with “… enthralling 3D graphics and unique atmosphere to the cinematic camerawork and fan-favorite Lock-On Laser weapon.”
In addition to intuitive smartphone controls and a pixel-perfect Arcade Mode, this edition of the game includes a special iPhone Mode with revised enemy attack patterns, updated graphics, and remixed background music. Players are able to take control of both the R-GRAY1 and R-GRAY2 fighters, and they also have a choice between manual weapon controls and button-free automatic firing. The presence of these modes allow players—from experienced shooting fans to series newcomers—to customize the game to best suit their individual play styles.
RayStorm is available now for iPhone 4/4S and iPod touch (4th gen or later) for $8.99.
Ahead, though, there are even more great games, including some promising originals and, of course, iPad support.
The highlight for me—based on my time with the games at E3—is Demon’s Score, a frantic blend of on-the-rails shooter and rhythm game. It features an illogically dressed college girl named Serenity who, while searching for her missing father, becomes possessed with demons who apparently make her fight bigger demons by flying through long hallways while tapping on the screen with the rhythm of music that’s playing from…somewhere. I don’t know. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but was gorgeous to look at and fun to play.
My only hope is that the demo level was one of the last in the game, because it was insanely difficult. You have to type and slide at just the right time and with impossible precision, often with multiple fingers. But the game is further proof that Square Enix has mastered what it takes to create a great game for a touch-based device. Demon’s Score is scheduled for a summer release.
Final Fantasy fans should eagerly await the July release of Final Fantasy Dimensions, which Square Enix describes as retro and fresh alike. It certainly does have a retro look, illustrated in 2D pixel art.
The turn-based gameplay was familiar enough for me to win a few battles despite picking up after someone else’s game, but having bounced to the game after Demon’s Score, I found the “retro” graphics a bit too…childish? We’ll go with childish. Still, that’s Final Fantasy’s history, so fans should keep an eye on this. A dedicated Final Fantasy Dimensions website is already in place.
DrakeRider and Guardian Cross round out the core gamer titles. DrakeRider is an RPG in which you battle atop a dragon that will kill you if it gets the chance, apparently.
No release estimate for that, but it’ll be compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
Guardian Cross is a creature-based card game in which you’re a tamer who captures, raises, and controls powerful beasts known as Guardians. Gameplay is centered around a quest to unlock the secret of why the Guardians have woken after a millennium of slumber, but it’ll also feature a coliseum system in which you can challenge other tamers in head-to-head combat.
This one is worth watching based on talent alone, especially if you’re the aforementioned Final Fantasy fan. The development team includes:
Concept Planner: Hiroyuki Ito (creator of the Final Fantasy ATB system)
Composer: Naoshi Mizuta (Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy XI)
Character Design: Akira Oguro (Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, Final Fantasy Dimensions)
Guardian Cross is projected for a July release on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
Square Enix was showing off a few forthcoming casual games as well, and we’ll cover those within the next few days. In the meantime, don’t forget about RayStorm.