Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Buster (X68000)

Buster is a platform game, that's clearly been heavily influenced by Arcade platformers of the late 1980s, like Wardner and Legend of Hero Tonma. In it, the player travels, in the traditional manner, from left to right, killing enemies as you go. The only part of the game that's particularly original is the sword meter, which decreases every time you make a normal attack, and replenishes gradually when you're not attacking. You do also have an alternate attack, in the form of a splatterhouse-esque sliding kick, performed by pressing the
attack button at the same time as hitting the ground after a jump or fall. The sliding kick doesn't deplete the sword meter, and in fact quickly replenishes a large portion of it.
Don't mistake unoriginality for low quality, though: Buster is an excellent game that also has great graphics and music. The controls are tight and the stages are designed with deliberate precision. Nothing in the game feels arbitrary or accidental.
There is an aspect of the game that will put many off, however: its difficulty. The stages are designed with precision, and they expect to be played with precision in return. The first stage allows the player to get acquainted with the controls and mechanics, but as soon as the first boss is defeated, the game no longer has any mercy. There are jumps which require pixel-perfect accuracy, and a little later, situations that require that accuracy in jumping, but also perfect timing in attacking, and all in tiny timeframes with no space for error.
Because the game is so well made, this can get frustrating, but it's the right kind of frustration that a difficult game should invoke, where the player knows that they are at fault, and not the game. If you want a hard,
very old fashioned platform game, Buster is definitely one of them. The maker, E. Hashimoto, later went on to make a bunch of fairly well-known PC games, such as Akuji the Demon, and Guardian of Paradise. He's also made a psuedo-remake of Buster, 11 years after the original. I say psuedo-remake, as though I haven't played it, footage I've seen shows that the graphics are completely different (in a good way), and the game looks like it plays very differently, with the character moving around and fighting enemies at very high speeds.

1 comment:

  1. Any chance anyone has the download for this?