Air Buster

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Air Buster / Aero Blasters
Air Buster arcade flyer.jpg
Japanese arcade flyer
Developer(s)Kaneko (Arcade and Genesis)
Hudson Soft (TurboGrafx-16)
Publisher(s)Kaneko (Arcade and Genesis)
Namco (Arcade)
NEC (TurboGrafx-16; US)
Hudson Soft (PC-Engine; Japan)
Designer(s)Hiroshi Kaneko
Platform(s)Arcade, PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16, Mega Drive/Genesis
PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16
  • JP: November 2, 1990
  • NA: December 31, 1990
Mega Drive/Genesis
  • JP: January 31, 1991
  • NA: 1991
Genre(s)Horizontally scrolling shooter
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer
CPUZilog Z80
SoundYamaha YM2203, OKI6295
DisplayRaster, 256 x 224 pixels, 768 colors, horizontal orientation

Air Buster is a horizontally scrolling shoot 'em up video game produced by Kaneko and co-distributed by Namco for the arcades in 1990. It was subsequently ported to the PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 (under the title Aero Blasters) and for the Mega Drive in Japan in 1991.

In Air Buster, the player controls a fighter jet also designed for space travel and shoots enemies, collects power-ups, and defeats bosses to advance levels. As a console game, Air Buster had the distinction of being two player simultaneous, which was rare among side scrolling shooters on home consoles at the time.


Gameplay in the original arcade version of Air Buster.

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.


In the year 2021, a mysterious orbital space weapon appears and assaults the nations of the Earth. The players control the pilots Mike or Holly who are a part of the Trouble Speciality Raid Unit whose mission is to stop the invasion.

Development and release[edit]

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 and has better sound effects. The PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 port features a slightly expanded ending.


MegaTech magazine gave the game 78%, commenting on the "excellent graphics, sound and playability", but criticising the low challenge factor.[1] Mega placed the game at #13 in their Top Mega Drive Games of All Time.[2] Mean Machines gave the game 80%, but said that it could not compete with Hellfire.[3]


  1. ^ MegaTech rating, EMAP, issue 5, page 78, May 1992
  2. ^ Mega magazine issue 1, page 76, Future Publishing, Oct 1992
  3. ^

External links[edit]