Avenging Spirit (Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, X/S)

Avenging Spirit was a 1991 arcade title by the now defunct Jaleco.  Jaleco made mostly average games.  I think their biggest claim to fame was the Bases Loaded series on the NES.  Anyway, I had never heard of Avenging Spirit until the Game Boy version was brought to the Nintendo 3DS eShop around ten years ago!  In the game, you are a ghost and can possess people, and then you can control them and have use to their various attacks and moves as you tromp through half a dozen 2-D side scrolling platform levels.  This port of the arcade version is available on all current game consoles, but reviewed on Switch here.

The storyline is a bit dark for a game that stars the cutest little googly eyed happy ghost you’ve ever seen.  You and your girlfriend are out and about when a criminal gang kidnaps her and shoots you dead.  Your girlfriend’s father, who researches ghosts, brings your spirit back to his lab and requests that you rescue her with what little spirit energy you have left.  So now you go out and possess people and bust into the gang’s hideout to save the day.

When you start the game, you’ll control the ghost who can float around in all directions.  When you hover above a person, you can press the attack button to possess them and then you control them.  Each character has different moves and attacks.  Some can run quicker and jump higher, while others can shoot projectiles.  You’ll possess everything from fighter ladies, ninjas, army dudes, gangsters with guns, wizards, vampires, robots, and more!  Each playthrough will feel a little different with all the characters you can be!  When you get hit too many times, your spirit will be knocked out of the person and you’ll have to find another one to possess.  But when you are a ghost, your spirit energy depletes quickly and when it’s gone, the game is over.  Luckily since this is an arcade game you can continue endlessly right where you left off.  Hidden in some of the levels are keys.  Collect them all to get a different ending.  Other pickups include health and spirit energy refills, screen clearing bombs, and more.

They added some nice quality of life features like the ability to rewind and save your progress at any time.  You can also play the Japanese or English versions of the game (in Japan the game is called Phantasm).  At only six levels the game is a bit short and since it’s a quarter munching arcade game it can get difficult.  Especially since some of the characters move floaty and some are more effective against bosses than others.  But since you can continue limitlessly, that eliminates any of the frustrations.  If you’ve ever been curious about this arcade oddity, now’s your chance to check it out.

Kid Factor:

Avenging Spirit is rated E-10 with ESRB descriptors of Fantasy Violence and Mild Blood.  You punch and kick and shoot projectiles at bad guys who just fall over and disappear with a scream when defeated.  Bosses just explode, and your ghost just floats away when you run out of energy.  I didn’t notice any blood, but the vampire characters shoot out three bats and they look like they’re flashing you when they do that.  I’m surprised that got past the ESRB.  But this is mostly just 16-bit silliness and I grew up playing games like this and I turned out OK.  Reading skill is helpful for the text, but not needed just to play.

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