Finally. It took some waiting, but Nintendo and the eShop has finally thrown up a 3D Classics game worth paying for. Twinbee is by no means a work of art, but unlike the other vertically scrolling shooter, Xevious, which had the same 3D treatment earlier this year, this one is actually fun.
For starters, this game manages to address all the problems that plagued Xevious. Most importantly, the bullets and enemy sprites are nice and big. This time around you can see what is shooting at you, and you will be able to dodge the enemy bullet, because you’ll see it coming.
But in terms of gameplay, Twinbee is a substantial upgrade on Xevious as well. There are the usual enemies to shoot down, but the real points come from collecting bell-shaped objects that fly out of the various clouds across the stage when you shoot them. The first one you collect is only worth 500 points, but collect two without letting one drop off the screen, and the score will double. It keeps doing this and it’s possible to earn hundreds of thousands of points in each level.
Score attack fans are going to love this one, because collecting those bells can be a tricky proposition at times. The enemy waves do tend to get in the way, and each time you shoot a bell (deliberately or by accident), it bounces back up the screen. It’s not uncommon when the action heats up to be trying to juggle four or five bells while also taking down enemies.
Like Xevious, Twinbee takes place across two planes, and the little airship can bomb the ground as well as shoot into the sky. And it does a better job of both. For dogfighting in the sky, there are actual weapon upgrades that can improve both the range and power of the ship’s weaponry, which makes Twinbee feel the far more contemporary game. There’s auto lock-on when it comes to bombing ground targets too, which doesn’t necessarily make the game easier (it’s not easy in the slightest), but it does make it a whole lot less frustrating.
It’s just a pity that with the emphasis the game places on score attacks that there isn’t more done with high scores. The game only saves the highest score, so no local leaderboards, and no online leaderboards either. Disappointing to say the least.
On top of that, the 3D effect is very awkward at times. On either side of the screen is a flat curtain to border the action, as this game isn’t played in widescreen. This immediately creates an uncomfortable contrast between the on screen 3D, and the 2D sitting right next to it on either side. Further, the angles in which some of the game objects travel around the place is a little bit off for a game in 3D. It’s clear there was less effort in making this game work in 3D than any of the other 3D classics to date.
In the end, Twinbee probably didn’t need to be released as a 3D classic. The game plays fine though, and is an interesting and challenging high score-chasing arcade game. And it’s the first of the 3D classics I can recommend people turn money over for. Hopefully this is a sign of bigger and better to come.