Blaster Master
Box Shot
Blaster Master
Platform: NES
Publisher: Sunsoft
Designer: Sunsoft
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Published Date 1988
Reviewed by: Kurt Kalata

Blaster Master is proof that a good game doesn't need an ingenious plot. See, your pet frog found that radioactive goop in your backyard, grows to enourmous proportaions and hopped down a very large hole. Being an idiot that your character (named Jason) is, he follows after him. After a long fall, Jason finds a vehicle with a suit inside, which he hops into and proceeds to hunt for his frog in this weird new underground world.

Much of the game takes place in your vehicle, named Sophia the 3rd. It can jump fairly high, has an upgradable cannon, and can even hover and climb walls once the correct attachments are found. Although the game is technically divided into areas, the levels themselves are sprawling mazes. There are times where you must hop out of your vehicle and look into various doors. The games switches to an overhead mode wherein your trot around and destroy things. Many of these doors simply serve as areas to power up Jason (after all, all of the bosses are fought on foot, not while in the vehicle) and there are three extra weapons for your vehicle to use (homing missles, three way missiles, and thunder zaps) which are only found on foot. But one door actually contains the level boss. Beat him, and you get a power that will allow you to get to the next level. For instance, once you beat the first level, you are given a new cannon that allows you to beat the monster guarding the entrance to area 2.

There are even more weird ways in which the game is structured. Once you beat the first three levels, you must work your way back through each area, until you reach the place where you start. Then, you must use the hover ability (gained in level three) to move on to level four. Different, yes, but innovative. Luckily there are shortcuts when working your back through levels, so you don't have to play everything over again.

The game, at first, seems fairly easy...controlling Sophia is an easy deal, even if it tends to slide too much. Enemies yield power pellets to replenish life quite often, so as long as your hip on your toes, you can stay alive pretty easily. It can get quite annoying to find hover pellets so you can get energy to fly, as only certain enemies provide them. The heat really gets on in level 5, where you must spend an extended amount of time outside your vehicle (still in side scrolling mode), swimming and trying to kill enemies with your wimpy gun. The overheard areas can get a bit tough too, because the enemies usually move very fast. You also can't fire diaganolly, which doesn't help. The bosses can be difficult, but some of them can be destroyed by firing a grenade and pausing it when it hits. Many people can't get past the level five boss because he's so tough. Also, powering up your gun in the extra doors seem almost useless, since every time you get hit, your gun power goes down, and its unlikely you can get to the boss without taking damage.

As for the graphics, they tend to be very dark in the side scrolling areas, yet bright and almost cheery in the overhead spots. Your vehicle is very well animated and moves very smoothly, but the animation of the enemies in both modes leaves something to be desired. The music is excellent and memorable, with some good drums beats and almost techno sounding tunes.

In the end, Blaster Master is just good ol' fun. It has the action of Mega Man and the exploration of Metroid, which actually leaves it to be a very fun and different game. Once you memorize the levels and where the boss door is at, it gets a bit old, but is still fun to hop into and play. As mentioned before, it's a rather difficult game, and you only get a few continues. It's also very long, and a password would've been much appreciated. As mentioned above, it can also get very hard, and even kick-down-the-door frustrating. But it's still well revered in the gaming world, and is still a kick-ass game.