Review by Myzery_Clown
"There's a reason we dispose of radioactive materials, young Jason."
Fun. That’s what gaming’s all about, right? You play video games to have fun. You play them to thoroughly entertain and enjoy yourself. Amongst everything the gaming world offers, the picture looks much larger than this at times, but take away all the flash and glamour, and you’ll left with the core concept. You play games to have fun. And that’s what Blaster Master’s all about Having fun in a unique gameplay environment with more than just one odd coincidence or turn of events. And while Blaster Master isn’t exactly the perfect game, it does the job of providing you with that oh so important word, fun, that it just needs to be appreciated to the fullest.
Blaster Master is, quite blatantly, an odd game. Jason, a typical teenaged high schooler, has a pet frog. This pet frog escapes and gets into some radioactive material that Jason just happens to have in his back yard. Good ol Fred, the frog for those of you who don’t know, grows to an immense size and goes down a big hole. Well, Jason, displaying a level of intelligence that would be expected out of a kindergartener as opposed to a high schooler, jumps in the hole after him. At the bottom of this hole, (shouldn’t that drop’ve killed him?), he finds an underground area of the world that none had ever discovered. Imagine that, an undiscovered mass of underground terrain in your own back yard! At this point, Jason finds a tank with a suit of armor that conveniently fits him. So, equipping himself against the dangers of this underground world, Jason sets off to rescue Fred. Quite a lot to ask for a frog, no?
The majority of the game will be spent in the tank, driving around and killing enemies. What fun! However, your tank just isn’t going to remain weak the whole game, is it? No. At certain points you’ll go outside of the tank to engage in more closed in conflicts, namely the boss fights you find at each stage. Each stage is full of puzzles and great kill the baddies gameplay that is saturated in the oh so important F word again. And no, it only has three letters, you naughty minded ones. After wading your way through the puzzles and enemies of a stage, you’ll encounter a room with a boss in it, ranging from a crab to other giant frogs. You hypocrite, Jason! After defeating each boss, you’ll find an item that enhances your tank in some way, whether it be giving you more powerful missiles to shoot from the tank to kill those oh so stereotypical baddies that Rome this underworld, or devices that allow the tank to do such nifty crafts as hover. This is a very basic system of improving your tank, but it is so deliciously effective that you shouldn’t make it any more complicated anyway.
While slaughtering your way through Blaster Master’s stages, you’ll find that the controls are somewhat likable. The controls when on foot as just Jason are quite well executed, providing just the right amount of tug to make the game realistic enough. Jason isn’t skidding as if he was on ice skates, but then again, he’s not moving as sluggishly as the local dog that’s been around as long as anyone can remember. The tank, on the other hand, is quite responsive, sometimes sliding further than you’d intend, and this makes for some misjudged moves on a more frequent basis than I’d care to recall. However, the control flaws don’t detract from the experience a great deal. They are present, but you’ll find yourself having so much FUN that it won’t really make a great deal of difference.
Blaster Master’s visuals are also worth some recognition, although they do have their faults. The environments are quite detailed considering the time and format on which it was released. However, Jason is quite small, and he probably should’ve gotten more video attention than he did. Since you’re seeing him most of the game, you’d think he should look a bit more pleasing to the eye. My other gripe lies in the backgrounds. They are nice looking, but you’re underground right? Than why, if I may be so bold, do I see blue skies and an oak tree as my surroundings? These aren’t exactly graphical deformities, but I did find them to be rather odd, wouldn’t you agree?
From an audio standpoint, Blaster Master fails to deliver too well. The opening songs of the game are quite nice, as well as some of the songs from a couple given stages, (stage seven comes to mind here), but for the most part, some generic NES music will accompany Jason on his quest to regain his own favorite F word, that being Fred of course. The music sounds like it had potential, but the NES’s own hardware capabilities hampered Blaster Master, as the quality of the music fits that of the stereotypical NES music almost like a glove.
Sound effects, too, are rather lackluster. Fortunately though, the sound effects don’t seem to give off much of an aura at all. They are quite hushed and easily zoned out, but when you do pay attention to them, you’ll find them quite disappointing. A lot of sounds were used twice for very different sounds. For example, Jason jumping is the same sound as an enemy kicking the bucket. Not exactly something that gives you that feeling of variety, does it? That being said, the sound effects do seem to fade away though, so they don’t tend to be much of a bother.
Blaster Master isn’t a very challenging game for the most part. The only challenging aspect of the game is quite the challenge though. This is the game’s saving system, or lack thereof, that gives the game its challenge. To finish Blaster Master, you’ll have to set down for a good chunk of time, as you have no way to save your progress. Unless you can dedicate quite the sizable portion of your day to Blaster Master, you’ll find yourself extremely tired of seeing Fred grow to freaky froggy size, and you’ll get quite disgusted with the first stage and the hyper beam that awaits your tank after defeating the boss that resides in that level. Aside from this though, Blaster Master isn’t extremely difficult. No puzzle should leave you guessing too long if you’re willing to explore and experiment, and none of the bosses are tremendously challenging in the slightest.
Blaster Master’s ability to deliver our favorite word of the day, fun, carries over into its lasting appeal greatly. Despite the fact that the game can be completed within hours of receiving it, providing you have the necessary block of time to do so, you’ll find yourself going back to play through it again just for the heck of it. It’s one of those games that brings back that old nostalgia of the NES easily, reminding you of just how awed you were when you saw 8 bit graphics for the first time and the such. It is almost unexplainable what gives Blaster Master its charm, but I do find myself playing it again whenever I’ll start looking around for an old NES classic to play.
I think you have deciphered by now that Blaster Master is one of the more recognized titles the NES offered. It was never as popular as the console’s selection of Mario titles, and it didn’t get as much attention as Duck Hunt, but it was definitely one of those classics that’ll come to mind close to the beginning of a conversation about old school gaming. This is thanks to Blaster Master’s ability to provide gamers with what they look for when playing games. Fun. Despite some issues when it comes to visuals priorities, despite the lack to save your game whenever you’d like, and despite some loose controls when in certain parts of the game, Blaster Master is, no pun meant, a blast to play. Now, find yourself a copy of Blaster Master and have some fun of your own.
FINAL SCORE: 8.1/10
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/05/02, Updated 07/05/02
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