The year is 2021. A menacing alien orbital space weapon has spontaneously appeared high above the earth and promptly begun to lay waste to the vulnerable populace. Earth's only hope of defending itself and beating back the alien scourge is the "Trouble Specialty Raid Unit", an elite jet fighter squadron made up of two people. For earth's sake, let's hope more thought was invested in the fighter jet's design than was invested on the unit's name! Players who feel they are ready for the challenge (and what a challenge it is) will take control of either Mike or Holly, master pilots prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, in this boss laden side scrolling shooter from hell.
I was first introduced to this game in my childhood as Air Buster, the lone arcade game nestled in the corner of my local pizzeria which lured its young victims with impressive graphics, titillating sounds of war, and the ability to play two players simultaneously. Air Buster would mercilessly consume my birthday and Christmas money, relentlessly gobbling every quarter I could produce like a rabid hungry hungry hippo. Dredging up the memory of that time still produces feeling of frustration and helplessness at my inability to save the earth, I can only take solace in the thought that my ineptitude in the cockpit helped put someone's kid through college.
Taking my history with this game into consideration it is no surprise that Aero Blasters (the Air Buster name was changed when it was ported to console) was one of the first games I looked for after purchasing my TurboGrafx-16 console. Finally I would not be disadvantaged by my precarious pecuniary position in life (come on, I was 12!). While playing Aero Blasters on my TurboGrafx-16 stymied my outflow of change, I went through at least three controllers on my quest for redemption (back then they broke easily when thrown and only cost 10 dollars), a quest that would ultimately fail to bear fruit, despite many, many hour of game play I was never able to reach the final level. This game is punishing! When not busy dodging bullets and homing missiles, or trying to conquer oversized bosses, players will be squeezing through spaces small enough to prompt Han Solo to reach for his anti-anxiety medication. After rediscovering this nostalgia inducing gem on Console Classix I'm unsurprised to find that Aero Blasters has not only aged remarkably well, but succeeds in inducing the same obsession that emptied my pockets of so many quarters all those years ago.
Dodging is an absolute imperative in Aero Blaster. The player does not control the speed with which the game scrolls, and in my opinion it scrolls quickly. Luckily the controls are tight and your jet is easily maneuvered. There are times in the game, especially during boss fights, that there will be what seems like 100 different projectiles on the screen that must be avoided, your best bet is to try to find the gaps and move quickly through them. Hanging back at the left hand side of the screen can be a good technique (albeit an obvious one) to employ to give the player more time to react to enemies and their projectiles. In the more advanced levels in Aero Blasters the player will have to navigate through narrow channels while dodging enemies, again, flying your jet on the left hand side of your screen can provide more time to maneuver.
Your Aero Blaster jet comes equipped with an upgradable automatic machinegun. You are best served holding down the II button and constantly spraying bullets ahead of your jet, there is no need to continuously spam the button. Holding down I button charges your special power, once the meter in the upper left hand corner is full release the button to utilize the special attack. When released your special power destroys weaker enemies that are unfortunate enough to be in your immediate vicinity.
Power-ups to your machine gun and jet will appear in the form of floating alphabetic letters upon destroying certain enemies. Glowing "P" power-ups will strengthen your machine gun and are imperative for destroying stronger enemies. Other letter add weapon power-ups to your jet in a variety of forms, all of which are automatically activated when shooting your machine gun. The specific power-up letters and their corresponding effects are detailed in the hints section.
As previously stated Aero Blasters was one of the first side scrolling shooting games to provide the possibility of a two player simultaneous experience. While thrilling to play with your friends, you will find yourself fighting for power-ups. Fortunately friendly fire is not a concern or this game would have the possibility of turning into a player on player dog fight.
Whether flying solo or with a friend, players will battle through six distinct stages each with a ridiculously over-armed boss at the end.
Players are given 3 lives, and five "credits" (which basically function as a continue), effectively granting the player 15 lives. Once all lives and credits have been exhausted the player is returned to the main title screen to start over.
|At the title screen press Right, Right, Right, and then select. "Credits" will appear under the "Blaster Scramble 2" option. Select the new "Credits" option and grant yourself up to 9 extra credits!||Difficulty Setting|
|After entering the extra credit cheat press Up + Left, Down + Right, and then hold Select until the screen changes color. Blue represents easy, and Yellow represents hard. Release Select when the appropriate difficulty setting is selected.||Level Select|
|After entering the extra credit cheat press I button ten times to go straight to level 2, continue pressing I once more for each progressive level desired (up to 6). Finally press Select twice and Run to begin your selected level. For example, if a player wanted to go straight to level six they would have to hit the I button 16 times after entering the extra credit cheat sequence, then Select twice, and finally Run.|