Review Information
Reviewer Name: Boriz Lee
Game Difficulty: Easy
Difficulty Options: False
Game Information
Full Title: Scramble Spirits
Year Released: 1989
Game Type: Shooting
Max Players: 2

Scramble Spirits is a vertical scrolling shooter developed by Sega. It's an arcade port and can also be found on various home computer platforms. The story is set in the future where you have to defend the earth from some extraterrestrial bad guys. But don't expect any fancy space ships etc., because almost all of the enemy aircraft as well as your own fighter plane is propeller powered - I wonder if that's the way they've come to earth too.
Your plane comes equipped with machine guns for air-to-air combat and bombs for attacking ground units. There are no power ups that give you different weapons, a shield or increase your plane's speed and thankfully you can't loose any of these when your plane is shot down either. But there additional smaller fighter planes (or options if you prefer) of which you can pick up to two at a time. You can decide whether they attack air or ground units. And you can also send them towards the enemy causing havoc with a huge explosion (if I only found out about this earlier...). Afterwards they can be picked up again, but need some time to regain power. Otherwise the gameplay is straight forward and doesn't offer anything new. Except for one little gimmick: In each mission there's a low-flying section where the game zooms in and sends you attacking ground units directly. It's like a bonus stage. You can get hit without loosing a life and can earn extra points by destroying all enemies.
Scramble Spirits has some nice looking backgrounds, nothing too spectacular, but with quite some detail. Unfortunately the background changes to a solid color on boss fights and sometimes the enemy bullets seem to merge with the background. The sprites are also well drawn for the most part, but tend to flicker when the screen is crowded. A bigger variety of cannon fodder would have been welcome.
Sound & Music
The sound effects for machine gun fire and explosions are okay and annoying beeping sounds are kept to a minimum. While not being released in Japan, Scramble Spirits supports the FM Sound Unit. The music is enjoyable (even without fm) and matches the the pace of the game. The track played during the first mission is quite memorable and is being reused in one of the later missions.
Your plane flies at a constant speed and it feels just right. The controls are responsive and dodging enemy bullets works fine. There might be a bit of slowdown when the screen is filled with enemies and you cause a huge explosion. Besides that I must warn you that this game has no built-in rapid fire. So if you're not into button mashing or like to minimize wear on your precious Control Pad a Rapid Fire Unit is highly advisable (although it makes the game considerably less challenging).
Replay Value
Music & Sound
Replay Value
Overall this game is pretty easy and experienced gamers will probably finish it on the first or second try. Unlike so many other games there is no unfairness to be found. You get plenty of extra lives and you can always continue right where you were shot down. Finishing the game takes less than 20 minutes. But in case you like to go after a highscore this might not be a downside. After the ending sequence the game loops so you can save the earth again and again.
Appealing graphics and sound that doesn't force you to instantly turn down the volume led me to buying this game. But at that time I was also hoping for a game that is fun to play. And while the gameplay wasn't disappointing the lack of challenge paired with a short length certainly was. So if you're looking for an easy shoot'em up and/or a short two player game and can find this game cheap I'd say go for it.
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