You've never seen this...
In a list of games that you never expected to see on the iPhone, Avenging Spirit would be ... well, it probably wouldn't even appear. It is not one of the most fondly remembered arcade titles in existence. It is not even one of the remembered titles, truth be told. You may vaguely remember the Gameboy version, but the odds are that this game is a complete stranger to you.
Which makes it a bizarre first choice for DotEmu to bring over as the first title in their Jaleco Arcade Classics series. Instead of jumping in with something instantly recognisable, why pick a title that has a niche inside a niche?
Well, the thinking may be that Avenging Spirits is a neat little title, and that it offers something different to the usual fare. Indeed, there is a distinct charm to the game. The central premise is that the player is a ghost who can 'possess' enemies, and turn them against their cohorts. As each enemy has their own unique weapon or attack, this leads to a surprising variety of options for the player at any time.
Also, instead of the regular 'keep moving right' mechanic, there is a little more to the title than in regular side-scrolling beaters. Some levels also require traversal along the vertical axis, and these may need you to find the way up. Platforming sections, basic as they may be, make for a welcome diversion to the run-and-gun concept that makes up the majority of the title. At times, the controls are not quite as responsive as they might be, but there is never a feeling that the game has caused you problems. Of bigger concern is how the superimposed arcade controls affect visibility, although they do a pretty sterling job overall.
There is no doubting that this game was made in Japan, as it has the look and feel of Japanese arcade games in the early 90s. The appeal of this cannot be underestimated, as without this the game would simply not work at all. Bad guys look bad, little old grandmas look old, and the titular spirit looks like Casper's Cuter Cousin. All of it is predictably cartoony; none of it is out of place.
What this all makes for is a most welcome diversion. It is easy to pick up and play for short periods of time, and there is a definite "Just one more go" aspect when the option to continue appears. Also, it is not just a straight arcade conversion, as there is a Freeplay mode added which functions as a practise run for the actual game. Along with Game Centre compatibility, this is quite the complete little package.
This is a title that focuses primarily on the fun inherent in the concept of possessing enemies. Whilst it most likely won't be appearing in the top 25 any time soon, it certainly is not one to dismiss instantly. For your money, you will be getting a hearty slice of retro-styled enjoyment of the kind that is not particularly prevalent anymore.
- Sound: 5
- Graphics: 5
- Gameplay: 9
- Longevity: 6
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