Everyone loves air guitars. It's OK. It's human to air guitar, right? When you start to hear the sweet licks of those strings, you know you have to take the stance. Whether you're channeling your inner Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page or John Frusciante, in Air Guitar Warrior you're about to battle through 10 albums to face off against Heavy Metal Zeus at the Temple of the Rock Gods.
Air Guitar Warrior is good fun. If you love the "flamboyance" of heavy metal, shooting off lasers, flying skulls and firing streams of bullets from the headstock of crazy guitars while standing on the back of a jet-propelled crocodile, there's definitely something for you here.
How it works
This Kinect game for Xbox One works reasonably well. The menu selection is kept simple, utilizing a swipe and grab gesture, and you hold over items to select them. You don't need much room since the Kinect only really needs to see your full body, and you are displayed onscreen riding the most insane animals. You can select which is your dominant guitar-playing side, pick your ax (or "guitar" for you non-rockers) and assume the position.
The arm you hold out as you pretend you're holding the neck of the guitar determines which of the four bullet types you'll use to shoot down the approaching flying enemies and the angle you shoot at. Your strumming hand determines the speed at which you'll shoot the bullets. Each position and strum-type shoots bullets in a particular way. Chugging rhythms can take out a couple of enemies with accurate aiming, but using them in combination produces a manic and wild guitar solo that would make Yngwie Malmsteen cry. The notes sometimes weave a compelling web, or they're torn apart by jilted bullet switching. It's not often these slips occur, but when they do, it's a little jarring and takes your attention away from the otherwise wickedly composed soundtrack.
After five stages, you fight an end-of-area boss and progress to the next album, marking the occasion by unlocking a new guitar and striking a pose for the front cover. Playing the air guitar is all about not taking yourself seriously and going with what you feel. Let's face it, we have plenty of icons who paved the way to show us that. Look at Mick Jagger.
It doesn't really matter if you're playing in time with the music, the spray-and-pray method seems to work quite well. The beginning levels of each area are relatively easy-going, while the fourth and fifth tracks are often swarming with enemies. By the end of each track, you are left feeling like you have just battled. It's not an exhaustive effort, but two or three tracks in a row will get your tiger blood pumping. There seems to be a relatively quick jump in difficulty, as the pressure ramps up only halfway through the second album.
Couple that with the finer control of selecting the bullet type, and I often ran out of ammo because I was stuck using one type and had difficulty hitting the point at which it would switch to another. This lead to periods of being taken completely out of the moment and frustratingly trying to find a position that worked while taking damage.
While its 11 years in the making has given the developer, Virtual Air Guitar Company, some strong foundations, its first air guitar game, Air Guitar Warrior isn't King of Kinect Mountain. While it starts off fun, it quickly becomes challenging which may leave people feeling like they've bitten off more than they can chew. I would love for this to be the game that wakes Kinect back up, but there are a few too many bum notes.
- Awesome hand painted scenes.
- Cool enemy and weapon designs customized for each level.
- The sheer absurdity of the game overall.
- Ammo selecting requires a lot of finesse.
- Switching between ammo types can jolt the music.
- Easy beginning levels may mislead players who are looking for a less challenging game overall.
Air Guitar Warrior is available now for $19.99.
Disclaimer: This review was condicted on Xbox One with a code provided by the developer.
Lauren Relph is a games writer, focusing on Xbox. She doesn't like piña coladas but loves getting caught in the rain. Follow her on Twitter!