Avenging Spirit in Review – Quantum Leap the Video Game?

Whether it’s been through emulation or truly porting the game to run natively on the iOS platform, there has been a lot of old titles headed to Apple’s handheld juggernaut, Avenging Spirit being no exception to this trend.  I was not actually familiar with this particular game, but having spent some time with it on my iPod Touch I can definitely feel the early 90s platform nostalgia kick in.  Conceptually the game is actually pretty interesting, but in practice it makes me realize why I both loved the 90s for gaming and am glad that games have advanced since then.

There’s a bit of a story to the game, but the main thing that you’ll take out of it is that you are a spirit, and you must inhabit people’s bodies in order to survive and accomplish your goal.  You must rescue your girlfriend, who has been captured by the same criminals that gunned you down.  The levels are pretty simple fare – run back and forth, eliminate anything that gets in your way, and make it to the end of each level where you’ll fight a boss.  Of course, given that the game is more than 15 years old, you shouldn’t expect anything new here.

In spirit mode you can’t be attacked, but you have a meter that runs down until you inhabit a body.  If the meter is emptied then you lose a continue.  When all of your continues are used up you have to start the level over.  Once you’ve inhabited a body there’s a separate meter that keeps track of how long that body is good for.  As long as you have energy in your spirit meter you can keep switching bodies when the body meter runs out.  It would be nice if there were a way to abandon a body early, but unfortunately you don’t get that luxury.

You move your character via a virtual joystick, and use buttons to jump and shoot / take over bodies.  The controls are fairly responsive, but the virtual joystick is also quite obtrusive.  When playing in full screen mode it’s often easy to block the activity that’s happening on the left side of the screen because your hand is on the joystick.  There is a “windowed” mode, but to me that makes the graphics look too squished and tiny.

The graphics remind me of something you might see on the Sega Genesis, which means I’m either over-sensationalizing the capabilities of said machine or the 16 bit era of video gaming was closer to converging on the arcades visually than I remembered.  Either way it’s a decent if slightly dated visual style with some interesting character designs, especially as you get later into the game.  I do like the nice little red outline that indicates which bad guy is you.  On the flip side, the bosses for the most part are pretty disappointing.

The sound effects are pretty typical for this sort of game.  The individual characters don’t really have distinct noises, and there are no voices anywhere in the game.  Some sort of cool sound when the spirit takes over a body would at least have been nice.  Thankfully the music is fairly decent and quite representative of action games in the early 90s.

Avenging Spirit is by no means a bad game.  The truth is, however, that once you get past the novelty of being able to take over the bodies of your enemies, the game is mostly going to appeal to those who fondly remember the game from first hand experience.  Everything has a vintage 90s feel to it, which is fine with me because that’s when I was most involved in gaming just for the sake of gaming.  I think a modern audience would appreciate Avenging Spirit more via a reboot, to borrow a Hollywood term.

App Summary
Title: Avenging Spirit Developer: DotEmu
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req: 3.2
Price: $0.99 App Size: 8.6 MB
  • Cool concept
  • Nice 1990’s look & feel
  • Responsive controls
  • Interface gets in the way
  • Retro game play needs an update
  • Game is fairly short


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