An arcade classic with excellent emulation features, but the quarter-munching gameplay unfortunately shows its age.
No one alive can be certain what awaits after death. Many cultures believe in an afterlife, but the objective isn’t usually to stick around earth meddling in the affairs of the living. There may however come a day when one brave spirit is called to the mortal realm to save it from total disaster.
Avenging Spirit is a platformer that made its debut in 1991 for Nintendo’s game boy and in arcades. Also known as Phantasm in Japan, Avenging Spirit is the story of a ghost who is the world’s last hope to stop an evil syndicate. After discovering the power of ghost energy a scientist becomes the target of a secret society. When his daughter is kidnapped, he is left with no choice but to use his discoveries to summon the Avenging Spirit and save his daughter.
Without a lot of energy it’s hard for ghosts to materialize, but luckily the Avenging spirit has the ability to control humans through possession. While on the hunt to find the missing girl, our otherworldly hero will possess the bodies of ninjas, magic users, gun wielding soldiers, gangsters and more. Each possessed enemy grants an offensive ability used to defeat anyone who stands in the way of ghost justice. Once the host body is worn out the Avenging Spirit must quickly find a new body before running out of energy.
2 button platforming controls feel like a tradition for classic games, but being a modern remaster this version packs a lot of extra features in its interface. There is a dedicated button for rewinding gameplay and an updated menu interface that provides options for gameplay. Players have the option of playing English or Japanese versions, using a save state system at any time during the game, and selecting between a console-like single player experience with three difficulty settings, or a coin emulated classic 2 player arcade experience.
Other than the added menus, the gameplay is coated in pixel art straight out of a 90’s arcade cabinet. Similar to reborn classic Clockwork Aquario, the added options menu also comes with graphics settings. Players can simulate older screens with a CRT filter, with adjustments for scan-lines, blur, and rounded screen edges. WhIle the soundtrack is unique and upbeat, there’s not many songs for the six stages and the melodies loop early enough that they become repetitive fairly quickly.
Like many less popular older platformers, Avenging Spirit plays at a slower speed. Jumping acts differently depending on which character you have possessed, and some characters will ascend and descend much slower than others. The slower horizontal movement makes platforming more of a chore alongside some other frustrating side effects.
Gameplay shows its age in the level design and unfair mechanics. There’s no restriction on continuing or extra credits in any mode which makes survival less of a priority, but enemies manage to sneak in a lot of hits that feel like a cheap trick to get more coins into. Having the correct enemy possessed becomes important, yet the controls don’t offer a way to switch out of a possessed body. If your body runs out of health, you’ll lose energy in ghost form and easily become stranded if no other enemies are nearby. The game’s story also plays around finding 3 secret keys to rescue the scientist’s daughter for the best ending. Due to this, the game allows for an obscure level of exploration, allowing characters to backtrack in the opposite direction and explore splitting paths that could even be dead ends. The sense of exploration would be welcome if it didn’t feel like a deathtrap throughout the relatively short game length. Some of the acquired attacks have hit boxes that are difficult to use and combine poorly with certain areas and boss fights seem unfair without the ability to attack vertically.
Even with its modern updates, Avenging Spirit is still an authentic gaming experience from decades past. Its easy to see how the game may have made a splash in the days of arcades and early hand-held consoles, but it does not hold up as against other modern experiences. With the main focus being a variety of enemies to possess, the dated gameplay is still something to enjoy without having to pay for extra continues in an arcade setting. Carried by its artistic style, the adorable ghost hero and quirky story may still resonate with retro fans in modern times.
Variety of abilities from possessed enemies.
Vintage pixel art graphics with visual enhancements .
Slow movement hinders platforming.
Obscure; arbitrary level design.
Unlimited continues compensates for unfair difficulty.
2 out of 5
Review code provided by PR. Avenging Spirit is out now!