Review by Overdrive

Reviewed: 09/14/03

Innovative and fun --- but nothing amazing that jumps out at me

Aero Blasters (Airbuster) is one of the myriad of blow-em-up shooters on the Genesis -- a system that pumped out tons of blaster games during it's lifespan.

This particular outing has six levels, so it isn't that long -- but it is a satisfying length. While you might feel like another level would have been nice, you won't put it down unfulfilled.

This game does a few things to separate it from the pack. The most noticeable is that in stages four and five, you'll be in zero gravity. If you move to the right, you'll keep moving until you push the control pad/joystick in a different direction. Obviously, this makes control a bit more of a task, but nothing overly frustrating.

Also, a couple of the stages offer challenges far beyond simply blasting enemies and dodging fire. In the second level, you'll get to whiz down narrow corridors at insane speeds. The final level has you negotiate an obstacle course of moving blocks to get to the end.

To look at specific aspects of the game ---

Graphics/sound -- 8: No real complaint here. The enemies are well-drawn and a couple of the levels (such as the first one) look very good. I also enjoyed the music. It wasn't particularly memorable, but didn't annoy me. The final boss does have a somewhat generic look, though. It might be a insignificant point, but when I blast through multiple levels of bullet-dodging action, I personally hope for an impressive-looking climatic battle.

Gameplay -- 8: While, for the most part, this is a somewhat standard game, with pretty generic enemies and locations --- there are some nice additions to the shoot-em-up genre. The zero gravity levels, the obstacle course and the high-speed tunnels that I mentioned above all really added to this game and kept it from turning into a repetitive experience.
The levels all are of decent length and are reasonably challenging, consisting of a nice mix of small and weak foes, larger and more deadly ships and pods that release power-ups. While some of the bosses are very easy, a couple of them provided a fun challenge. My personal favorite encounter was the mech on level four, but a couple of others proved to be above-average, as well.

Replay Value -- 5: Disagree if you will, but to me, this is one of those games that is fun to push through --- but not exactly a priority to pick up again. To me, there are plenty of shooters that I'd rather replay than this one.

Overall -- 7: A few innovations really carry this game to a decent rating. While it is a fun diversion and definitely not one of the weaker games in the genre --- without the zero gravity levels, high-speed zone and obstacle course, it would really have nothing to separate it from the field.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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