What begins as a nice homage to old school shooters quickly turns nasty.
Buster Spirits has a cool retro-sounding title that takes us back to the glory days of the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. It even has the pixel art graphics to match. Unfortunately, this vertical shoot-em-up also comes with a sudden spike in difficulty, along with jerky touch controls that make it more chore than guilty pleasure.
Initially, Buster Spirits appears to be a slick throwback to all those classic shooters we played as pimply-faced teenagers. You collect gold coins for extra lives (a nice touch), grab power-ups to build the tiny ship's firepower and then unleash it upon hordes of 8-bit bad guys that naturally respond in kind by showering the screen with bullets. What ensues is a pulverizing ballet that forces you to frantically weave between projectiles.
This kind of set-up has worked in countless games before, but in this case, Buster Spirits quickly grows annoying. The first few stages (of 20) are easy enough. Then the developer(s) at Iskandar kicks off the training wheels and shove, albeit virtually, players down a steep hill. Suddenly, the game becomes tougher than an old leather boot, as trying to pick up coins and power-ups amongst the clutter is borderline impossible.
It also doesn't help that the game's creator(s) plunge the ship into tight spaces, which is exactly where the controls stumble most. Everything's so jerky that one slight and unintended move to the left or right results in death. What's more, bothersome asteroids sometimes appear from nowhere and travel at a fast clip, leaving little room to make a life-saving dodge. More often than not, you must guide the ship into a narrow corridor to reach relative safety, but good luck with that.
Taking this into account, Buster Spirits lacks the polish to compete with other titles in the genre. We purchased it ($1.99) in the hopes that the game would rekindle fond memories of shoving quarters into arcade machines, but instead, it reminded us of how cheap many of those dinosaurs truly were.
What's Hot: Pixel art gives Buster Spirits a cool retro vibe, no shortage of enemies to blast.
What's Not: Huge difficulty spike, attempting (and failing) to squeeze the ship into tight spaces, cheap asteroids, jerky touch controls.