The G.G. Series of games in the Japanese DSi Shop really are a little slice of arcade heaven. Not just because they offer some good old-fashioned fun, but because they're such well-crafted titles generally. Assault Buster is certainly one to put into the "pretty good" column, offering an interesting combination of run-and-gun and shooting action.
Players control a blond lassie in powered armour with a big gun on a static screen facing guns spawning out of thin air which mean to do her harm. She has the big gun to take out the enemies, whilst the armour allows her to do boosts in any direction and can take multiple hits from enemy fire. At the top of the screen is an "Enemy Potential" gauge which goes down with every enemy shot; once you've depleted it you face off against a boss and the gauge acts as the boss' life gauge. After you destroy the boss you progress to the next stage and repeat the process.
Using the D-Pad plus the boost button to indicate the direction you want to fly in takes a little getting used to, but it's definitely worthwhile. Boosting helps you not only avoid enemy shots, but also saves time. Your game ends if you run out of life or time and you only have two minutes to complete each stage – including taking down the boss. Boosts can be chained as long as you have energy left in your boost gauge, so you can fly up to the top of the screen and drift down blasting enemies as you go.
The first couple of stages aren't too difficult, but stage 3 starts out with a lone insectoid enemy that's more manoeuvrable than you are and proves quite challenging. It doesn't help that your health doesn't regenerate between stages; you'll need to make sure you blast the green boxes that fly by periodically, picking up the resulting smart bombs and health bonuses to stay in the game. Unlike previous entries in the G.G. Series you can continue play after dying, though your progress won't count towards the best score/stage rank recorded in the top screen if you do.
As with other titles in the series, developer Suzak has put in some nice details you wouldn't expect in a budget release: your character's hair ripples and blows about as she flies and she bobs back-and-forth ready for action when standing on the ground. Impressively debris from exploding bosses actually flies at you with 3D effects that hearken back to Metal Slug. It's this level of quality that makes us believe the G.G. Series epitomises the best of what DSiWare has to offer: budget fun on the go.