Review by Psycho Penguin

"I'm madly in anger with you, Blaster Master 2."

The original Blaster Master was one of the defining moments of the early-generation NES. Featuring all the qualities needing to be a terrific video game, it is still one of my favorite video games of all time. Of course, like a majority of all video games, it had one problem.

It got a sequel.

Blaster Master 2 is so appalling, I am almost ashamed to be reviewing it, but my quest for 500 reviews will be harder if I don't review all the games I own, even the crappy ones! There is nothing about this game that would make it redeeming, but there are enough good points to keep it teetering on the edge of mediocrity. The game chose style over substance, as opposed to the first game. It has the same style of gameplay as the first, without any of the cool elements that made the game so special. This is just an average platformer - and not a very good one at that. The game has more in common with its predecessor than you may think, but that doesn't make it as good.

The storyline often gets slammed as being uncreative or boring, but why? It's not like the original Blaster Master was an epic or anything. I admit, the storyline is often the most underutilized portion of my reviews. If the game has no storyline, but is good, I don't care, but if the game is bad, then I go off on the story. But, I am trying to stop doing this. So, this storyline isn't all that original (YOU GO DOWN TO THE UNDERWORLD AGAIN!), but it didn't have to be. It's merely average, and that's fine.

The graphics also happen to be mighty average and don't make the game seem worse than it actually is. The backgrounds are nicely designed and very colorful. You will go through a variety of stages, and each one looks nicer than the last. The problem with the graphics is the simple fact that sometimes the backgrounds are too detailed or too colorful that they blend right in with the foreground, and that means too many cheap deaths. I admit that happened to me a lot of times throughout, but it's not really the developers fault for wanting detailed graphics. It's just that you can't even see the traps in the water or fire stages because of the backgrounds. Once you get into overhead mode, the graphics do look much more realistic and normal though. Nothing will stand out, but they are certainly effective, especially the nice variety of enemy designs.

Oh my lord, they might have made the graphics nice, but the music is absolutely horrible. I loved the soundtrack from the original, but this music is completely horrible, especially compared to the original. But, it would stand on its own as terrible music, as well. Each stage has its own unique song, but they all sound terrible. The bleeps and bloops of the ''tunes'' will drive you mental, and the variety isn't exactly top notch. I am extremely disappointed with the music in the game, and it's not like the sound effects are any better. The buzzer you hear when your tank gets low in energy is annoying, but otherwise there's nothing too bad here. Fortunately, there's actually a limited amount of sound effects. If only the music was so limited!

Fortunately, the controls won't get on your nerves nearly as much as the music will. The addition of a 3rd button for the Genesis controller will mean an easier time in firing special weapons. One button is to jump, one is to shoot, and one is to use whatever special weapon you have equipped. It's certainly easier then going to the pause menu just to switch between weapons. Also, I always appreciated the ability to aim my weapon in the exact direction I wanted it to. You can shoot up, right, up-right, or-up-left, or down if you jumped in the air. It's nice to kill enemies by using diagonal shots. One problem I had with the controls is that to enter doors, instead of just pushing either down or up, you had to push up AND the fire button. I never figured that one out, but once you get used to it, you'll find little wrong with the controls.

Sadly, the controls can't mask the fact that you're controlling your character through a poorly designed adventure. If you can even call it an adventure, as the game loses most of the elements that made the original such a classic. Instead of having to find your way to the next level, the exit door to the next level is blocked, and you just have to use the special weapon the boss gives you to open the way to the next door. This has been done in so many games before, and Blaster Master was one of the few games that actually made you find a way to get to the next level, so this poor and lazy design is far worse than normal. I don't like just going through a stage, beating the boss, and going to the next one in a Blaster Master game.

It's not even like the game could stand on its own as an adventure, as the stages themselves are too predictable and easy. The enemies will never give you too much challenge, and if they do, then watch out, as now you have the same amount of energy whether you are in your tank or not. The stage designs tried to add new elements, like falling ceilings, but they fail because you've already seen them done before in other games. It's like the game replaced the original factors with boring qualities and tried to be called an original game. Just doesn't work that way, sadly. The stages are definitely disappointing, with some of the poorest designs I've ever seen, and it really made me sad throughout the adventure. Plus, now the tank loses all of the cool elements that made it so cool, as now it gets a poorly done hover and that's it. Where's the wall riding feature I enjoyed so much in the original?

Plus, the new mode, where you control the tank in a first-person view, is completely horrible. I never liked the first-person view in Fester's Quest, Golgo 13, or any other adventure/action game that tried it, and I don't like it here, either. It's extremely hard to see where you are going, the items will hurt you, you can't use any special weapons, and controlling the tank will be harder than talking to that pretty girl next to you in chemistry class. Adding this extra mode was pointless and just adds even more frustration to a game that already had plenty of it.

Fortunately, the game does retain some elements from Blaster Master and adds a few new ones. You still take control of Sofia, and you still go around in a tank trying to progress to a place where only YOU as a human can get into. Then you proceed into overhead mode, where you progress through a dungeon killing enemies and solving minor puzzles to get to a boss, who gives you a special item. Plus, the game has a Blaster Master feel to it, besides the lack of non-linear gameplay, so don't think this is a totally new game. The new weapons are cool, too, as they give you an additional variety of weapons to select in your adventure. The Drill lets you drill through walls, and you get a shield that protects you from damage for a few seconds.

And you will need that shield later on in the game, as Blaster Master 2 becomes increasingly challenging towards the end. The first few levels are a breeze and are merely a warmup for a challenging conclusion. The problem is that the bosses before the final boss are much harder than the final boss itself. And some of the ''challenges'' in Blaster Master 2 are laughably easy. No one is really going to get too challenged by falling ceilings, I hope. The elements of the game that were supposed to be challenging and were added for the simple point of being challenging are actually easy, but the stages themselves can be hard. This is especially true due to the fact that enemies can hit you harder, and you and your tank SHARE damage now, so you don't get two life bars for the price of one this time.

The game is challenging for the most part, but don't expect this to be a defining reason to keep playing. Hell, don't expect anything to be a defining reason to keep playing. Once you get over the ''Wow, this game really sucks!'' thoughts, there will be nothing to keep you from coming back. This game has no secrets, and no mini-games, and no extra modes. This would be fine if the game was fun, but it actually isn't all that fun. You'll find yourself wanting to play Blaster Master a lot more after playing this game. I probably will never play this game again, and you'll feel the same way after completing it.

There is just nothing here to call Blaster Master 2 a good game. It's certainly not terrible, as the game maintains the Blaster Master feel with varying stages with detailed graphics. The stages are huge and detailed, with bigger and badder enemies and good bosses. That's what prevents this game from getting an even lower score. However, the game loses all the feel of the original, and goes from a top notch classic game to a below-average platformer. The music is terrible, though, and the new gameplay mode is laughable. Plus, the non-linear aspects of the original were gone, and all that's left is a game with Blaster Master-like stages without the Blaster Master-like non-linearity, and that's just not enough to satisfy me, and judging from popular opinion, anyone else.

It's a shame, because the game had a chance to be one of the all time greats, just like the original.

Too bad it didn't.

Reviewer's Rating:   1.5 - Bad

Originally Posted: 07/01/03, Updated 07/01/03

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