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Japanese promotional sales flyer
|Platform(s)||Arcade, TurboGrafx-16, Sega Genesis|
|Sound||Yamaha YM2203, OKI6295|
|Display||Horizontal, 256 x 224|
Air Buster[a] is a horizontal-scrolling shoot-em-up arcade game developed by Kaneko. In Japan, the arcade version was published by Namco, while in North America the arcade version was published by Sharp Image Electronics. Two players control the "Blaster Fighter" star ships in their efforts to destroy a mysterious mechanical fortress orbiting Earth, with plans to take control of the planet. The Blaster Fighters can equip one of seven available weapons, which will change the ship's firepower and abilities, such as diagonal shots, homing missiles and small drones that follow the player's ship.
Air Buster received a favorable reception for its visuals, sound effects and gameplay, although complaints were directed at the difficulty, which was deemed "too easy" by numerous publications. Ports of the game were released for both the TurboGrafx-16 and Sega Genesis, the former being renamed to Aero Blasters for international releases. The Sega Genesis release was ported over to the "Project EGG" digital storefront in 2014, which remained exclusive to Japan. A version for the Sharp X68000 was in development but never released.
Air Buster is a horizontal-scrolling shoot-em-up game. Players choose between one of the two Blaster fighters through scrolling six stages. The Blaster fighters can equip one of seven weapons. The weapons include the Striker weapon which adds additional firepower through vertically aligned Options, the Reverse shot which fires two diagonal shots from the rear of the ship, the Six Way Shot which fires semi-automatic shots in six directions and the Homing Shot which tracks enemies all around the screen.
The other three weapons are Missile-based which vary from Red straight-firing Rockets and Green Homing Missiles. There is also the Border item which surrounds the front of the ship, keeping it from crashing into foreground objects. The only other Items include Power-Ups which increase the ship's standard shot power and Bonus Points that appear in the sign of Dollar signs.
Development and release
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Both home ports are pretty faithful with the Mega Drive/Genesis one being closer to the Arcade original game than the PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 one. The Mega Drive/Genesis port runs fullscreen, features more detailed graphics, keeps most of the Arcade version's parallax effects and has better sound effects. The PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 port features a slightly expanded ending.
In Japan, Game Machine listed Air Buster on their March 1, 1990 issue as being the third most-successful table arcade game of the year.
MegaTech magazine gave the game 78%, commenting on the "excellent graphics, sound and playability", but criticising the low challenge factor. Mega placed the game at #13 in their Top Mega Drive Games of All Time. Mean Machines gave the game 80%, but said that it could not compete with Hellfire.
- "Air Buster Marquee". Retrieved 2019-06-23.
- "The Softouch - Software Information: 新作情報 -- エアバスター". Oh!X (in Japanese). No. 143. SoftBank Creative. March 1994. p. 25.
- "Coin Ops - Air Buster". Sinclair User. May 1990. pp. 56–57. Archived from the original on 16 September 2019. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
- "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - テーブル型TVゲーム機 (Table Videos)". Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 375. Amusement Press, Inc. 1 March 1990. p. 29.
- MegaTech rating, EMAP, issue 5, page 78, May 1992
- Mega magazine issue 1, page 76, Future Publishing, Oct 1992