Review by KasketDarkfyre
"Hunker down and I'll tell you a little story of a boy and his frog..."
Classic games take all forms in the Nintendo Entertainment System library. While most gamers will find that the word classic is best left for games such as Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Super Mario and the likes, there are other such as Blaster Master that really set the mood. Featuring a rather interesting story of a boy is and his missing frog, you’re transported into a world where nothing makes sense, and the only way to get out is to kill everything in sight to save your friend. Blaster Master features two styles of game play, one in which you roll through several side scrolling stages in a large mobile tank and another in which you take on the forces of evil in an three-quarter overhead view in an attempt to stop your four legged friend from destroying everything around you! The game itself is nothing but action and adventure throughout, in which you’re placed in the middle of the battle field and must guide your way through a very strange world in order to obtain new weapons and upgrades for yourself and your tank. Challenging and fairly long, you’ll find that Blaster Master is probably one of the most under appreciated games in the NES library and really well worth playing, even today.
The game play is split up into two different functions in which you have to guide your character through a very strange world where the only way out is death. You’ll pilot a rather impressive and powerful tank through most of your adventure, which can be upgraded with several different weapons and items in order to pass through different stage locks. In the other part of this game, you’ll be in an overhead style platforming game that allows you to run through smaller stages and take on different enemies in order to gain upgrades for your tank and even yourself! The run down on the game works much like this in which while you’re in your tank, the only thing that you can do is fire on whatever happens to look threatening. Through your journey in the outer world, you’ll encounter roadblocks and different areas that require you to have a specific item in order to pass. These items range from weapon upgrades like missiles and gun improvements, to defensive and vehicle upgrades like a hover option and speed boosting. When you get through this part of the game, you’ll find that there are several different ladders and otherwise that you can use to get to other parts of the huge stages. You’re not so much trapped to the confines of your vehicle, in which you can get brave and exit the tank to find explore a little bit and get health power ups and weapon ammunition.
The overhead game takes you through different sections of the stage that your tank is too large to pass into. These stages don’t require anything but skill, reflex and time as well as some patience, because at the end of some of these smaller stages is where you take on large bosses that are both annoying and challenging in the same respect! There is a cheat that you can use if you can’t get past some of these bosses, but I won’t reveal it here, as it really does take away from the overall experience of the game. In this mode, you’ll be able to collect health items and weapons for your tank, but probably the most interesting aspect of this is that you can collect weapons for yourself that all take on a different attribute to help you through them. Once you’ve taken on the bosses, then all you have to do is collect whatever it left behind and continue on through the game with your upgrade and move onto the harder to complete stages. One of the most difficult stages that you’ll encounter will be the “Castle” stage, in which the enemies just keep coming no matter what, and you really have to be on your game in order to get through it!
Control in Blaster Master is relatively easy to learn, with most of the game control being behind the tank portion of the game. You tank can jump, turn in mid acceleration and fire off in several different directions. The overhead view of the game is straight forward enough that you really don’t have to learn anything specific and all that you have to know is where your attacking buttons sit. Once you have a good understanding of this, then you can pretty much pick up the game and roll through it with no problems. Some of the tank effects such as the hovering takes a little practice, and even veteran action gamers will find that getting into the intricacies of what the tank can do and what it is capable of can take some time to understand and use effectively!
Visually, the game is extremely expansive, with the biggest portions of image break up and slow down being in the overhead shooting stages. The stages that you journey through are simply amazing to look at, with finer detail being everywhere that you look. Some of the more intricate detailing comes with taking your character out of the tank and running him around in the tank stages. When he drops into the water, you can see how his legs kick while he moves through the water, and to see this kind of visual detailing was almost unheard of with older NES games! The overall design of the enemies that you face off against and the different bosses that you come into contact with is truly amazing, and you’ll find that even the smallest special effects have plenty of detail and color thrown into them. Truly an experience worth watch, let alone playing, Blaster Master was one of the first of its kind to produce some astounding detailing and visual layout like this.
The audio here is strictly adventure music with plenty of highs and lows that seem to rest on a hybrid of dance music and trance. While not the most spectacular of music that you’ll even find in an NES game, you’ll find that what you hear in Blaster Master is something that will more than likely catch you off guard. The toe-tapping theme that you hear throughout the game changes slightly depending on where you are and what you’re doing, so that is a definite plus. The sound effects are a little strange though, in which you really don’t hear much outside of explosions and gunfire throughout the game. All in all, you’ll find that the game does tote a good blending of the minimal sound effects and the rather diverse music!
Blaster Master is a game that is worthy of the classic title, simply because the game has so much to offer the gamer and it doesn’t take a scientist to learn how to play. With simple controls, a pretty straight-forward game play focus, detailed visuals and a rather good sounding audio track, there is very little here that anyone can find wrong with it. NES gamers and collectors should already have this in their collection, while those who have never played would do well do pick this title up and play through simply because of the features that it offers! Worthy of a purchase, it ranks right up there with Zelda and Metroid in terms of fun, and if you’re really into action games, then it doesn’t get much better than this.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/27/01, Updated 12/27/01
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