I’ve played a few puck-shufflers (or whatever the proper genre name is) in the past, and as simple as they are, I can’t help but find them entertaining. At least for a while. Then there’s Treasure Buster, which takes the simple premise of bouncing a puck around and turns it into a sort of roguelike RPG — and I’m definitely okay with that.
Admittedly, it doesn’t have the best start. I mean the intro video is fantastic, but actually beginning a game in Arcade Mode just tosses you in with absolutely no explanation of what’s going on. Maybe the idea was to really push the roguelike feeling, but it was a bit awkward to sit there and have to trial-and-error my way through every single aspect of Treasure Buster’s design. Yes it’s simple, but …come on. At least let people know that the goal is to fling your character around the room and clear out all the enemies.
Despite this initial misstep, Treasure Buster manages to feel like its own thing in a genre that’s already starting to get pretty crowded. Each of the playable characters has their own base stats (I went with the robot, because of course I did). You can improve their stats more as they level up, enemies will drop items that can be used for all sorts of potential benefits, and you can buy equipment that will give your character some sort of edge for as long as they hold on to it. I’m particularly fond of the artifact that regenerates health over time, because this game gets pretty darned tough after a while.
Different enemies have different abilities that vary from area-of-effect attacks to healing, and you’ll need to learn what can do what if you want to survive longer than a single dungeon or two. Seriously, they can whittle down your health very quickly if you aren’t careful. The bosses are even more difficult, with a much larger variety of attacks and significantly bigger health bars.
Unfortunately, even with all the cool RPG elements, things do eventually start to get repetitive. The various power-ups you can acquire add a bit more nuance to everything though, such as the lance’s ability to charge through enemies rather than bounce off them, or the shield allowing you to be more reckless with your shots. Taking a break and coming back to the game later (don’t worry, it will let you continue from where you left off) also helps, but there’s only so much puck bouncing a person can stand, you know?
Treasure Buster is a very enjoyable game for what it is, and the RPG elements are definitely welcome. It’s not quite enough to prevent a feeling of familiarity and possible dullness from setting in, at least not if you play for extended periods of time, but when played in short bursts it’s not all that noticeable. Either way, it’s a fun game that’s worth a look if you like this kind of stuff.