RayStorm HD Hands-On: Sharper Than EverS

Of the handful of Xbox Live Arcade games playable at Microsoft's Tokyo Game Show booth space, only RayStorm HD, the remake of the 13 year old shooter, had a line.

And it was not a short wait, some 20 to 30 minutes worth to play what was essentially a prettier looking version of the game released in arcades and consoles in the late 90s. The wait for RayStorm HD was made longer by the fact that the guys ahead of me in line were skilled, holding onto their single credit through a few of the game's gorgeously re-rendered levels.

Out of courtesy, I decided to die midway through the second level.

If you're not familiar with RayStorm, it's not a particularly dizzying or difficult shooting game, despite my rather poor performance. It follows a system that's dependent on power ups dropped by certain ships to increase your shot power. It also has a Rez-like lock-on attack, allowing the player to queue up shots and therefore rack up multipliers for more points.

There were two ships to choose from the XBLA demo offered at Tokyo Game Show, with multiple modes—including an Arcade mode, an Extra mode and the "13 Ships Mode"—but we stuck with the run-of-the-mill Arcade option just to get a feel for it.

And it feels good. Beyond the visual tweaks offered by high-definition graphics and a wider playing field, the game feels a lot like the original RayStorm, for better or worse. It may not have the most appealing gameplay system, but it's still a great deal of fun. We'll see what those other modes have to offer when the game is released later this year.