Review by Rafy28

Reviewed: 12/05/03

A nostalgic game that brings tears to your eyes for the wrong reasons.

Let me start my review this way. Have you ever watched the movie 'Stand by Me'? There is a touching scene where River Phoenix cries next to his friend in the woods when he tells about a sad incident where a teacher took advantage of him. His words: ''I never thought that... a teacher...'' Boy, does that exemplify my feelings while trying to play Master Blaster. The only difference is that mine were ''I never thought that... a game programmer...'' I played this game fresh out of the box when it came out of for the first time ages ago. Not once did I beat it. Now, back in the day, what with the NES and the 8-bit graphics being the greatest thing since MTV's Headbanger's Ball, it wasn't common, at least among my peers and myself, to declare that a game for the almighty NES was bad, let alone that it played bad, especially the very first generation games. The game designer, the programmer, the companies, they were all our friends. They worked for our fun. Yeah... it's like when as a kid our parents would try to tell us that the policeman was our friend and then after your first ticket for not wearing a seatbelt while parked the whole idea changed. Ignorance is, as they say in my hometown, daring. I picked up a copy of Master Blaster again this year maybe out of the Zeigarnik effect on my brain of having an issue not dealt with, and tried to beat it again. The only thing that I ended up beating was my head against a wall. Which brings me back to the reason why I say the designers and programmers messed up my childhood with this game, which after many years becomes clear as daylight. Game control. By thinking of the programmer as infallible there was even some cuteness to our naviete, because when a game played bad we didn't say it was bad, we just said the game was 'difficult' while raising our eyebrows in a warning fashion. How wrong we were. And with this we begin our rating of the game...

GAME CONTROL- 3/10 I begin, oddly, with this because I think it's the one factor that makes this an ok game and not a great game. This game plays so bad is almost comical. It almost feels as if it was designed to include yourself as your own enemy. The scenes were Jason, our fearless hero, walks around shooting stuff are especially excruciating. And at times when your enemies shoot at you the beams, or whatever it is that they shoot, bends on midair after you. Now what's that all about? And I'm not making this up. Beams should not bend. I'm talking about the robots that look like moving home telephones. Sure, were talking about a one of the first games for the NES, but when you play other NES games with waaay much better control, like Zelda II, you would think that the people at Sunsoft could have tried a little harder. For instance, area 5, where Jason tries to swim around while shooting at metallic fish. If this stage doesn't leave your fingers crunched you must be one of those karate guys breaking bricks and boards.

STORY- 7/10 Jason, your average 2D shoot whatever the heck that moves hero, has a pet frog named Fred (a frog named Fred, heh, no wonder the frog prefers fleeing to a radioactive plutonium infested underground that staying around the kid) that he keeps in some jar. Not being aware of the fact that frogs jump, Jason opens the jar, and Fred decides he's had enough. The frog jumps out, escapes to the backyard, and now it's when we walk into a whole world of weirdness because some radioactive material just happens to be laying around Jason's house. Where does Jason live? Chernobyl? C'mon! Anyway, the frog touches the thing and becomes huge, because, well, that's what happens when you touch some radioactive thing, right? The frog jumps into the underground and then Jason runs into some 21st century tank and futuristic suit by some shady chain of events. Sounds like a story a 3 year old would cry out in the middle of a reunion of grown ups when not given proper attention. So why am I giving it a 7? Because it serves to prove just how far we've come...and not. It was so easy for Sunsoft (and NES for that matter) to simply come up with an idea for a cool game and get on with it without having to worry much about explaining and justifying stuff. Today, stories play an important role in games thanks to games such as FF series and Zelda, but in this case, and considering it was at the beginning of it all, it was a cool idea that you just needed to get into. Jumping tanks, blasters, radioactive robots... count me in!

GRAPHICS- 8/10 The layout of the areas is well done, though many of the enemies do not have an especially interesting design. But the bosses... now we're talking. I believe that Master Blaster is of those few games that you show a picture of the last boss to any hardcore game fan and he/she would say immediately ''Oh, that's Master Blaster'' and that's a job well done in designing stuff. The infamous bubble spewing crab was quite a sight back in the day.

MUSIC- 5/10 This is an area of interest to me because music is your only constant companion when playing a game, and when it is bad, it can be like having a Chihuahua dog yapping his head off next to you while you play. Not that Master Blaster's music is all bad. The first 3 levels had some tunes very much there with the 2D classics, but after that it starts to get annoying, and by level 7 you just want to hit somebody because it has a constant 16th note drum pattern that after a while starts to stain your brain cells with some dementia that doesn't help you get through the game.

Now, for some reason that not even I, writing this review, understand, there is some unidentifiable attraction about this game which brings you back to it the same way you go back to classic NES titles like Metroid, Castlevania and, yet again, Zelda. Who knows, maybe for old school gamers, we are still giving in to the tortures of the Sunsoft programmers, and we like to think of this game as one that still manages to kick our butts after years of technology advance with the very basic 2D stuff, rather than a very good idea badly processed in terms of control. If you are a hardcore NES gamer you have to love this game, like the dog that keeps wagging the tail at his abusive master. If not probably the game won't offer much to you.

SCORE- 6/10

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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