Friday, 29 April 2011

Hydra Castle Labyrinth & Buster (PC)

The more retro-centric followers of the independent gaming community are currently going nuts over the latest release from E. Hashimoto (aka Buster, as in he of Akuji the Demon and Guardian of Paradise fame), so I thought I'd have a quick bash at it last night on my eeepc.  After several hours hacking and slashing away in this super-cute 2D platform romp, I have to concur that Hydra Castle Labyrinth really is a gem of a game.  With its roots clearly set back in 8-Bit NES era and some gorgeous pixel art, I haven't enjoyed a platform adventure this much since La Mulana.

However, whilst browsing through Buster's web site (thank god for Google Translate) I noticed a game that I'd completely forgotten about; E. Hashimoto's only commercial venture to date (AFAIK) - Buster.  I recalled reading positive comments about it years ago on the precursor blog prior to the launch of, but never bothered looking into it any further - until now.

After working out how to buy the bloody thing (with help from E. Hashimoto himself), my £5 was paid and the game was sitting in my downloads folder.
With it's six main areas and multiple stages in each, 'Buster' is a fantastic, high speed jump 'n' run console-style platformer that wouldn't have looked out of place in the back-catalogue of SNES or Megadrive games.  The main character has a wide variety of moves and attacks at his disposal (including wall jumping, hanging and a Sonic-esque spin), the enemies are fun to dispose of (the boss battles in particular), the difficulty curve is just about spot-on and the presentation of the game is simply outstanding - especially when you take into consideration that it was developed by a one-man team.  I'm really surprised that Buster didn't receive any reviews on the usual indie-gaming sites back when it was released (my google searches drew a blank), as it far surpasses many over-hyped releases that have come out of the scene over the past few years and will certainly remain on my hard disk as a favourite for some time to come.
(If you are interested in buying a copy (and I rcommend you try the free demo version first), Buster is available from here (a credit card is required), and instructions on how to navigate the Japanese payment site can be downloaded here).
4 out of 5