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Air Buster Air Buster - Japanese Logo - Katakana / Kanji

Air Buster - Cabinet - Video Game Marquee


A horizontally scrolling shoot-em-up game that is known for its high-speed cave flythrough and low-gravity levels. Extra weapons are obtained from "power-up pods" which spread the extras in a quarter-circle formation.

Air Buster was produced by Kaneko in 1990.

Kaneko released 41 machines in our database under this trade name, starting in 1982. Kaneko was based in Japan.

Other machines made by Kaneko during the time period Air Buster was produced include: DJ Boy, Vs. Gong Fight, Jump Coaster, Fly-Boy, Red Clash, Jackie Chan The Kung-Fu Master, Gals Panic, Berlin Wall, Magical Crystals, and Bakuretsu Breaker


Name Air Buster
Developer Kaneko (Japan)
Year 1990
Type Videogame
KLOV/MOG # 6825
Class Wide Release
Genre Shooter
Conversion Class JAMMA
Dipswitch Settings

Air Buster Dipswitch Settings (user contributed)

# Simultaneous Players 2
# Maximum Players 2
Game Play Joint
Control Panel Layout Multiple Player
  • Joystick: 8-way
  • Buttons: 1 - Fire
Sound Amplified Mono (one channel)
Cabinet Styles
  • Upright/Standard
Control Panel Air Buster Control Panel Image
PCB Air Buster PCB Image

Game Introduction

You and someone else too if they have a quarter take off from an airborne aircraft carrier and fire at anything that moves. Each of the six levels has a boss character that must be defeated before moving on to the next or beating the game. There really is no story line to this fast action side-scrolling shooter ... other than the story you will tell your doctor about why your fingers hurt so bad after playing!

Game Play

Move your ship around and fire at anything that moves while avoiding their fire and the ground/ceiling/walls/etc. Holding the fire button for about 2 seconds will charge up your weapon that when released will destroy most everything on screen including enemy fire. This game is broken up into six different levels each with unique challenges, enemies, and bosses to deal with.

On your side are pods that contain power-ups to help you and you WILL need them. You must first shoot the pod to destroy it. Each pod then contains 5 items each that will release in a quarter-circle pattern 9 o'clock to 12 o'clock and fall off screen very quickly. There are two general types of power-ups: Fire and Auxilary Weapons. The Fire power-ups are a flashing "P" and up to seven can be attained. Each Fire power-up you attain makes your firepower stronger, but your rate of fire decreases a bit starting with the 3rd one you pick up. The Auxilary weapons consist of the following and their associated icon: Straight Missiles Red "M", Guided Missiles Green "M", Dual Rear Fire at 45 degree angles "R", 6-way shot "6", Hovering, Rotating Orb "H", Side Shooters - one above, one below "S", and the Barrier "B". The auxilary weapons will activate automatically when you fire and are not timed or limited - you keep them until you change them or die. The Barrier is the only power-up you cannot get from a pod, but rather it will just show up on the ground usually before a fast, narrow tunnel. Although the pods all look the same, there are two different sets of power-ups that a pod will release. The first set from 12 o'clock to 9 o'clock are: H, 6, R, Green M, Red M. The second set is: P, P, S, R, Red M.

Levels four and most of five do not have any gravity. This makes control much more difficult as once you move, your ship will not stop until it hits the edge of the screen. Towards the end of level 5, gravity will be restored when you destroy the first boss on that level.

The game ends when you run out of lives unless you have a pocketful of quarters or when you beat level 6.

CAUTION: Your fingers will hurt after playing this game from having to rapidly tap the fire button. Enjoy!

Air Buster KLOV/IAM 5 Point User Score: 3.00 (2 votes)

Fun Factor: 3.00

Overall Like 3.00
Fun (Social) 3.50
Fun (Solo) 2.50
Collector Desire 3.00

Technical Rating: 3.00

Gameplay 3.00
Graphics 3.50
Originality 3.00
Sound/Music 2.50

Personal Impressions and Technical Impressions each account for half of the total score. Within the Personal Impressions category, Like carries a little more weight than the other factors.

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Cheats, Tricks, Bugs, and Easter Eggs

The more "P" power-ups you get, the stronger your fire gets, but with each one starting with the third one you pick up your rate of fire starts to decrease. This, of course, makes it harder to take out later enemies where a lot of very fast and straight firing shots are better than a few slow strong shots with a fan effect. The best "P" level to be at is level 3 or basically pick up only 2 "P" power-ups. This will give you decent firepower and still keep the fastest rate of fire.

Learn to anticipate when and where the other power-ups will appear and what position they show up from the pod. Some power-ups are better than others in different areas of different levels. When in doubt, the best ones to keep are either the guided missile the green "M" or the barrier the "B".

The "S" power-up will act as a pseudo barrier destroying any fire or weaker enemies that come into contact with the pods.

Holding the fire button will charge a "smart-bomb"ish-type weapon that when fully charged and released will destroy most enemies and their projectiles. It takes about five seconds to cool off before you can charge it again.

You can attain better control in the no gravity levels by moving your ship all the way to the left side of the screen and holding left. When you move up and down then, it will not keep moving up or down.

Level two has a two different series of high-speed narrow tunnels. These are best handled with the Barrier power-up which conveniently appears just before they show up. The Barrier will not prevent you from running into walls, it just makes it harder to do so. If you push up or down into a wall, the Barrier will resist, but eventually give way allowing you to crash. Watch the caution signs that appear on screen to anticipate how the tunnel will turn next and continue to fire while in these tunnels as enemies will appear in front of and behind you. Collect the dollar signs for extra points.

Level six is simply nutty but, amazingly, is possible to beat without dying. A TON of enemy fire will be coming at you during about half the level. You will likely survive longer if you pay more attention to the area surrounding your ship and make slight movements to fly around their fire rather than focusing on destroying the enemies. When in the walled section of this level, shoot at the moving blocks - although you cannot destroy them, you will rack up a ton of points doing this. Also, try to keep as close to the right side of the screen during the walls since moving up or down will require you to move left at the same time to keep from crashing.

More pictures


The Amiga-game Turrican II features Air Buster's high-speed level Level 2.

Air Buster was released as Aero Blaster on the Megadrive and NEC's PC-Engine. Phalanx on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System is very similar in theme and game play even though it is not quite as fast, but it does have more levels.


Licensed to Sharp Image for US manufacture and distribution.

VAPS Arcade/Coin-Op Air Buster Census

There are 14,743 members of the Video Arcade Preservation Society / Vintage Arcade Preservation Society, 9,468 whom participate in our arcade census project of games owned, wanted, or for sale. Census data currently includes 164,437 machines (6,893 unique titles).

Common - There are 40 known instances of this machine owned by Air Buster collectors who are active members. Of these, 2 of them are conversions in which game circuit boards (and possibly cabinet graphics) have been placed in (and on) another game cabinet. 38 of them are only circuit boards which a collector could put into a generic case if desired.

For Sale - There are 3 active VAPS members with a Air Buster circuit boards for sale.

Wanted - No active members have added this machine to their wish list.

This game ranks a 13 on a scale out of 100 (100 = most often seen, 1=least common) in popularity based on census ownership records.

Rarity and Popularity independently are not necessarily indications of value. [More Information]



eBay Listings

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AIR BUSTER plexi marquee original

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Air Buster Arcade Circuit Board PCB KANEKO Japan Shooter Game USED

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