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Video Game / Avenging Spirit

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Avenging Spirit, or Phantasm (ファンタズム) as it is known in Japan, is a 1991 Platform Game by Jaleco.

Our hero is out strolling with his girlfriend one day, until a group of thugs in trenchcoats attack them. They kidnap the girlfriend and take her away, but not before pulling out a gun and shooting him dead. A tragic way to go. It looks like it's all over for our hero.

Well, not quite.

The girlfriend's father, who is a famed paranormal scientist, resurrects your ghost and informs you of what really happened. The thugs that killed the hero and kidnapped his daughter were agents working for a secret criminal organization and are holding your girlfriend for ransom in order to get her father's scientific secrets on ghost energy. It's up to you, as a ghost, to infiltrate the villains' headquarters and rescue her and put a stop to their plans.

Avenging Spirit is a 2D platformer with a twist. Your character isn't really playable, as he is a ghost. The idea of the game is to use your ghostly possession powers to take control of enemies and make them do your dirty work instead. Each of the enemy characters have their own powers and attributes. Some move fast, some can jump higher, and others have useful projectiles. If your character runs out of health and dies, you go back to being a ghost, but don't take this as invincibility, as your ghost energy runs out gradually until you possess another body.

The game was also released for the Game Boy in 1992.

See also Geist, a similar game about controlling a ghost.

This Video Game contains examples of:

  • Action Girlfriend: Invoked into a literal example. When you finally meet up with your girlfriend again, you possess her. Good thing, because of all the different playable forms in the game, she's the most useful of them all. Go figure.
  • Adorable Evil Minions: The enemies are quite quirky and silly looking, but are immensely dangerous. They work for The Mafia after all.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: As you can see here, The japanese version features the player, a happy cartoon ghost, surrounded by pictures of the various enemies he can encounter and possess, altered only in the EU release only to create space for the new title. The US version instead opts to throw all this out and replace it with a photorealistic trench-coated gangster shooting wildly off the side of the box.
  • Bittersweet Ending: You succeed in rescuing your girlfriend, but since you are dead, you have to say goodbye to her and the world, as you move on to the afterlife. This is the "good" ending, by the way. But not in the Japanese version...
  • Body Surf: The main gameplay mechanic. You're a ghost, and you can do this to the enemies, as well as your girlfriend.
  • Breakable Power-Up: If you run out of health, your current body dies, turning you back into a ghost and losing all of that characters' abilities. This isn't the case during boss fights, where your body's health is ignored and all damage goes straight to your ghost energy, so any death at all takes you straight to the continue prompt. Once you possess your girlfriend, the rest of the game goes by the boss rules for health, so dying beyond that point is always an instant Game Over.
  • Collision Damage: You're naturally immune to it in your ghost form, but when you are possessing someone, everything becomes dangerous to touch.
  • Damsel in Distress: Your girlfriend is being held for ransom by the bad guys to get her father's secrets on ghost energy.
  • Damsel out of Distress: With help from our hero, the girlfriend breaks free from her bonds and storms out of the villains' fortress, wielding a laser wrist gun and ready to face the final boss herself. Assuming you rescue her, of course.
  • Dead to Begin With: You were murdered by mafia goons before the game starts, and are now a ghost.
  • Discard and Draw: You can drop the character you are currently possessing at the cost of a bit of your ghost energy. Its useful for changing from a character to a more useful one. You cannot do this with your girlfriend, as you're permanantly locked with her for the rest of the game.
  • Downer Beginning: A normal stroll with your girlfriend turns tragic when you are ambushed and gunned down by criminals.
  • Downer Ending: The bad ending. You destroy the villains' secret fortress, but you don't rescue your girlfriend (meaning she's most likely dead). Our ghost hero sits and wonders if she is alright, but is running out of energy, before fading away into the wind.
  • Dub Name Change: Apperntly, The Girlfriend's name is "Miss Darling". The name that she is given in the USA manual for the Game Boy port is "Gennifer".
  • Earn Your Bad Ending: Defeating the Final Boss without your girlfriend becomes a very tough challenge in of itself, as he is highly durable, while being able to damage you hard.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: You possess your girlfriend in the final level. She's very fast, has the most health, has great jumping ability, and has a very powerful laser gun.
  • Eternal Engine: The second level takes place in an industrial complex.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Or rather, kill your possessed body. The wide variety of enemies goes beyond the usual gun-toting gangsters, but you also have robed wizards, ninja, fighter girls, baseball players, anthromorphic dragons, robots, and even Yuki-onna.
  • Friendly Ghost: Our hero is an adorable little ghost, who is trying to rescue his (still alive) former girlfriend from the crime syndicate who shot and killed him in life.
  • Ghost Amnesia: Our ghost hero has only a vague recollection of his girlfriend and former life. He doesn't know or think about why he's here. All he knows for sure is that he has a rescue mission to do.
  • Guide Dang It!: Good news, there is an Expert Mode that you can play for harder difficulty on the Game Boy port. Bad news? The instructions for entering the code (which features cute artwork of the Spirit and Girlfriend) only shows up in the original Phantasm version of the game. Even worse? There is an exclusive ending card for the mode that only appears in the original version.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Your girlfriend. She runs the fastest, jumps the highest, has the most health of all the characters, and has the strongest attack in the game that kills everything in one shot. Of course, once you unlock her, you're permanently locked with her until you beat the game, but why would you want to use anyone else?
  • Infinity -1 Sword: Hidden (or at least kept far out of the way) in a couple of the stages is a palette-swap of the basic soldier enemy. Luckily, if you can find him, he'll probably immediately kill your current body with what is effectively the exact same horrifyingly powerful laser weapon your girlfriend has - which you can promptly appropriate for your own use. Unlike your girlfriend, however, he can die just like anyone else, and he's a bit less agile.
  • Jack of All Stats: The Blue Ninja is pretty much good at everything, making him very useful for most situations. His only weakness is lack of raw hitting power with his shuriken projectiles. The Red Ninja has a more powerful attack than his blue counterpart with his swinging chain, but at the cost of attack range.
  • Killed Off for Real: No matter what ending you get, the protagonist never gets his original body back, and remains a ghost by the end of the game.
  • Life Meter: Aside from the characters you possess having health, you also have a "Ghost Energy" meter that gradually depletes when you're in your ghost form. If it runs out, you're called to the afterlife, meaning it's Game Over for real.
  • The Mafia: The antagonists of this game are an unnamed Mob gang. Despite their quirkiness, they're actually dangerously competent, as evident by actually killing the hero in the opening cutscene, and are shown to have immense power and resources to own a massive base.
  • Master of None: The Gangster has a basic attack with his Tommy Gun/Handgun, but overall lacks the usefulness provided by the Ninja enemies, who are also balanced but much more useful due to their superior mobility.
  • Multiple Endings: Depending on whether or not you succeed in rescuing your girlfriend. You need to collect 3 secret keys throughout the game (in levels 2, 5, and 6) in order to open the door to the room where she's being held captive; miss one, and the story won't end on a good note.
    • If you complete Expert mode on the Game Boy port of the original Phantasm game, it shows the Girlfriend getting married, and the Spirit is shown as well. Whether or not he is getting married to her isn't quite made clear.
  • Never Say "Die": In the Game Boy version, the narration (given by the character) says "they got me". Averted in the Arcade version, where the narration explicitly says you died.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: It isn't every game that you get to play as a cute little ghost, let alone a game where a ghost is The Hero (Ghosts are usually the bad guys).
  • Permanently Missable Content: Did you know there are three hidden keys to find throughout the game? You didn't? Too bad, you're getting the bad ending.
  • Plot Coupon: In certain levels, there are three hidden keys to find; they determine whether or not you save your girlfriend in the ending.
  • Posthumous Character: Simply put, you're already dead by the time the game begins.
  • Posthumous Narration: Your (dead) character tells the story in cutscenes.
  • Recruitment by Rescue: You actually play as your girlfriend if you rescue her in the final level.
  • Shout-Out: Vampire enemies open their cloaks to release a trio of projectiles.
  • Unfinished Business: Invoked by your girlfriend's father. He has called upon your ghost to rescue your girlfriend as well as stop the bad guys.
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: Averted. The criminals don't waste time entertaining you with any formalities by letting you live. They gun you down when they attack and kidnap your girlfriend. Unfortunately for them, it doesn't end there.