Retro: VC Weekly #174

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe's guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo's download service. Written by Sam C Gittins.

While there are plenty of well known examples within the platform genre there are a fair few forgotten gems around which have the potential to become firm favourites in their own right, this release is definitely one such case. Anyway enough from me and on with the game!

Available for download this week we have...

  • Avenging Spirit

Price: GB �2.70, EU �3
Publisher: Jaleco
Developer: Jaleco
Released: 1990
System: GameBoy

Based upon the popular Japanese arcade game 'Phantasm' this portable variant renamed 'Avenging Spirit' takes the basic format but alters things somewhat to fit in with the systems capabilities, the result being an enjoyable platform title which while lacking in colour manages to retain most of its charm. You play as the spirit of a guy gunned down by gangsters who kidnap your girlfriend, your spirit is 'saved' by a scientist who happens to be the father of the kidnapped girl; he informs you that they are holding her for random in exchange for his research into ghost energy, he also informs you that your power is limited but asks you to save her and so your misadventure of sorts begins.

You start off by possessing one of three forms, a female street fighter, a gangster or a fire-breathing dragon... unsurprisingly my favourite is the latter though each form has its own use with the fighter excelling at close combat, gangster being excellent at range and the dragon who is very good at burning things or just good all-round. Making your way through six stages you fight your way through a network of crime syndicate buildings with you main goal of rescue in mind, there are a good deal of gangsters to contend with along the way plus a few odd creatures too for good measure; most of them can be despatched with a few simple attacks but beware of your health for it isn't infinite, there are a good few tricky platform parts as well which keep things interesting plus some genuinely inventive boss battles.

What really sets the game apart though is your ability to possess enemies when the body you're in dies meaning you carry on playing but as a completely different character, these include a magician, ninja, robot and soldier each with their own unique abilities which adds yet more variety to the experience. There are also two endings so if you want to finish the game properly then you'll need to find three keys hidden within certain stages for true ending which is definitely worth it I might add; it's a relatively short game but due to the different characters you can possess chances are no two plays from start to finish will be the same which helps towards longevity somewhat.

Visually everything is nicely detailed despite being in black and white, there is a certain charm to it plus there are some wonderfully illustrated cut scenes of sorts that fill in the story between stages. Thankfully the catchy tunes from the arcade version made it across intact and sounding spectacular to boot, there are some simple yet brilliant compositions contained within that really reinforce the solidity of the overall game; definitely a few melodies here that you'll be humming along to even while you're not playing.

A very solid platform experience is present within Avenging Spirit, one that I would recommend wholeheartedly to anyone who enjoys decent games but may be looking for something that they've yet to play rather than a familiar experience. Indeed just on the low price alone it should be considered worth it as you'd be hard pushed to find a copy of this title anywhere these days let alone at a reasonable price, so I urge you to give this game a go as it might just pleasantly surprise you.

Verdict : A spiritual success well deserving of a special space in your collection.

That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

Sam Gittins

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