Air Buster (Genesis) review
"So much for feeling nostalgic about a game I'd played a long time ago..."
Every so often, even if extremely infrequently, I feel the need to apologize for — or at least recant — one of my old takes. It's rare because I'm ever so shameless, but it does occur, even if I try to downplay it and pretend it didn't happen mere moments after that mea culpa.
Once upon a time, back in the days when I was penning crude and primitive sectioned reviews, I wrote about 1991 Genesis shooter Air Buster and seemed to consider it a pretty enjoyable offering. It wasn't quite at the level of the retro shooter elites and it did have a few "interesting" aspects, but it offered a perfectly acceptable experience over its six levels of horizontally-scrolling action that progressed from a city under assault from alien forces up through outer space and finally to the base of those hostile beings.
Now, roughly 20 years later, all I can do is wonder what I was thinking back then. Today, I find Air Buster to be an oft-frustrating experience where two of those six stages are about as far from enjoyable as a person could imagine. We're talking about a situation where I was actively miserable for lengthy stretches of my time playing this game and, really, only sticking to it in the hope that I could remember just why I kind of liked it back in the day.
The way I found it to be quite difficult, I can understand. Back in the early 00s, I was frequently reviewing shooters along these lines, so I was constantly being challenged by how brutal and unforgiving so many of them could be. After a while, all that difficulty blends together whether it's derived by scarcely-placed checkpoints, intricate stage design or the way your ship loses all those power-ups you spent so much time amassing whenever one measly enemy is able to slip one measly bullet past your defenses.
So, I found Air Buster — also known as Aeroblasters in some circles — to be a tough experience that probably shouldn't' be the starting point for a guy who's only played these games infrequently recently, but is feeling the itch to dive back into them with gusto. That's not a big deal, even if some of the challenges, such as the lengthy and often narrow high-speed tunnels of the second stage seemed designed to raise one's blood pressure. But the fourth and fifth levels? Those abominations skipped past the blood pressure thing right up to aneurysm-risking mode.
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (February 09, 2023)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
More Reviews by Rob Hamilton [+]
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