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Well, this will be my first scripted video review. Don’t fret though as I stated before I am not switching to all video but I am possibly staying video only for game reviews. This video review is for my annual Halloween special. This years game review. Beast Busters, the 1989 arcade shooter from SNK.

Happy Halloween!

UPDATE! I’ve tweaked the script and added some screenshots to also make the review into a good old fashioned article for those that prefer the written things in life, or that hate my voice.

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well, its that time again, October and we all know what that means. a shoehorned Halloween themed game review for my otherwise hardware centric blog and now blog slash YouTube channel. I mean unless anyone out there knows of a Halloween themed PC I could review. I suppose i could paint a pumpkin on the side of a PC tower or something but…na. This years game  will be the 1989 arcade gun game beast busters.Beast Busters was developed by SNK and was their final game before the Neo Geo.

Beast Busters is generally referred to as an Operation Wolf clone with zombies and that is fairly accurate.The zombies in Beast Busters aren’t even your common mindless flesh eaters but are gun toting, knife flinging, motorcycle riding soldiers of the undead. This doesn’t help at all in dispelling the clone stigma.

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The Beast Busters arcade cabinet allowed for three players and featured uzi gun controllers for all three players. Unlike many arcade games of the late 80s and early 90s Beast Busters was not ported to every home computer imaginable and only made an appearance on the 16 bit Amiga and Atari ST machines. The Amiga version was my first experience with the game as a child but I don’t recall ever getting past the first level due to either my incompetence on figuring out the mouse controls or my lack of a joystick I only remember I couldn’t get the gun sight to move acceptably and the game was just to much of a chore because of this despite my enthusiasm for a zombie shooter. My local arcade at the mall, Giggles, did feature the game for awhile back in the far forsaken corner and so I did get to play it in its original format some.

For this review I will be taking the unfortunate step of emulating but since I cant horde arcade cabinets and boards can be a little hard to come across I make an exception for arcade games.

The game starts off with a very vague plot about a random city overrun with the undead. You get to choose from three characters who as far as I can tell play identically in game. The names though just scream 80’s action cheese. Our hero’s go by Johnny Justice, Sammy Stately and Paul Patriot. Sammy Stately? that’s actually pretty clever. The writers must of been up all night patting themselves on the back over coming up with that one. I’m surprised we don’t get Reggie Regal and Patty Presidential as secret characters.

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Like operation wolf and other games of the genre you automatically scroll through the levels in first person blasting everything that moves. other then your standard uzi you also have a grenade button that lobs an explosive damaging enemies in a wide area on screen. As you fire you can run out of bullets. If this happens your rate of fire slows down but ammo falling from the top of the screen is pretty abundant. grenade power ups such as rockets, napalm grenades and lightning grenades are also available as well as first aid kits and according to the intro bullet proof vests though I don’t recall seeing any in my play through.

As I mentioned earlier the bulk of the beasts you will be encountering in beast busters are zombies. Unlike your classical slow moving mindless variety though all these undead are packing heat and are rearing to pop a cap off in your stately a…derriere. These zombies also drive cars, pilot boats and the football player zombies even assault you from the air while being lifted airborne by what looks like undead owls. There are other enemies though as you traverse this city of the damned. zombie chihuahua dogs, sentient piles of scrape metal and aforementioned owls. The real highlight is the sometimes downright bizarre midboss and boss beasts. Some are fairly mild on the oddness chart such as the first boss, a switchblade flinging zombie punk rocker who transforms into a fire spitting dog mid fight. other not so odd bosses are a gang of zombie bikers and a pair of blue uzi toting zombies that look like a amalgamation of Jason Vorhees and Blaster from Mad Max and Thunderdome. some of the bosses get really…really odd. we have a river blob midboss that has the most serine look on his face.

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He doesn’t even come close to the level boss though which is a floating eyeball encased within a sphere of finely toned naked blue men. As you inflict damage the hunky blue heart throbs fall off into the murky depths exposing the lurking horror within.

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One boss battle also has you waiting your aim as you shoot this mad scientist type as he holds onto a hostage. after he dies you have to fight a second form which kind of looks like……..well I’m not really sure what it looks like but I find the dance like motion it continuously makes kind of disturbing. The boss that takes the cake though is without doubt the monster car. Later in the game your fighting in a parking garage when your suddenly attacked by a rocket launcher equipped jeep. not to strange yet right? how about as you damage the jeep parts start falling off revealing a disgusting jeep monster hybrid. The tires have claws, eyeballs look out where the headlights once were biological goo ozes out of the shattered windshield and a vicious fang filled mouth is where the front grill once was. The car not only serves as the levels midboss but also the main boss as it pulls itself up somehow on your elevator at the end of level for a final showdown. All and all its a pretty silly boss battle but definitely memorable.

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The final level is nothing but a boss rush and ends up being pretty unsatisfying. The final boss himself though is a snarky looking mad scientist type in a techno eyeball throne. After dealing with his throne you get to face his true form. a cycloptian flying brain, because….obviously. even after slaying the eyeball brain things arn’t over yet as the final battle is against what I assume is some kind of alien machine bristling with weapons.

The ending is a bit lack luster but what can you expect from an arcade title. as your victorious dude bros celebrate amid the ruins a giant spaceship slowly descends and cue cliffhanger ending.

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Visually the game isn’t horrible, at least the arcade version is not. there is some sprite scaling that goes on in a few levels as you go down a street or hallway though the effect is nothing to write home about.The environments are destructible is some places though obviously nothing like today’s games. The subway train in the first level can be shot up pretty thoroughly and I always enjoyed blasting fire hydrants in the street stage.

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So what did I think of this game? Beast Busters is ultimately a fun but silly game. I never took the element of horror far enough for my tastes and in stead went in a more silly direction with simply taking gun wielding solders as enemies and giving them an undead sprite swap. Some moments are almost inspired, again in that silly kind of way such as the monster car boss and the floating eyeball surrounded by naked blue hard bodied zombies. Its certainly not the prettiest game but its fairly short and does not overstay its welcome making it a nice burst of short Halloween fun.

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3 Comments

  1. Thank you for staying mostly video-free. I’ve just recently started keeping up with your blog. One of my pet peeves of the internet lately is trying to wade through youtube videos to find a kernel of information I’m looking for. I would much rather read something that gets straight to the point than listen to someone bumble around for 10 minutes trying to say the same thing. I can understand video for showing off something dynamic like a game, but it’s quite different just discussing a static computer, or worse yet, showing you how to fix a computer problem with 10 minutes of crappy video vs. 3 screen shots. 🙂

  2. I agree. This video stuff was always intended to be “supplementary” to the written articles and still are. Its why I spent only $50 on a camera and $12 on lighting. I edit my videos with free windows movie maker and Ms-paint so yeah, I’m in no rush to throw money at making the videos though if I found stuff at a really good deal of course I may grab it. Games though as you said can be a little more dynamic so I think the video route may be best for those. This site isn’t that much about games anyways so its almost a separate thing anyways. I may actually still write articles for the game videos though. just tweak the script a little and take some screenshots…

    I think the dynamic is going to be for the computer reviews/overviews and most articles the videos will be supplementary to the written articles where as for game reviews the articles will be supplementary to the videos.

  3. This game looks awesomely weird. Thanks for sharing! I’ll try it out sometime.


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