Mega Man-Metroid-Castlevania aka Blaster Master
Review written by
December 14th, 2015
Blaster Master was originally released in the late eighties on the NES. While it was not a huge seller, it was not a flop either. I suppose one could say it was a "cult hit".
The game was released by Sunsoft, who at the time of the game's release, were a competitive developer, taking up big licenses to develop games based on Batman and even Warner Brothers characters.
Blaster Master was what we now call, an "original IP". It's about a young boy, named Jason, whose pet frog escapes. The frog jumps through a giant hole, touches a radioactive chest, and then grows to an enormous size. Then Jason jumps down the hole to pursue the frog. He finds a battle suit and a large all-terrain vehicle named "Sophia III".
Yes, this is an abridged version of the introduction, and it only gets crazier from there.
Once you push the start button, you get a rear-view cinematic of Sophia the 3rd darting away. Then you are thrust into the first of eight stages. You start off in one of the game's two perspectives, the first being the side-scrolling mode. You can jump, fire, and even exit your vehicle. If you are wise, you will remain in your vehicle except only when you have to exit to enter a maze, which will toss you into "overhead mode".
Sometimes, you will need to exit Sophia an enter various areas where you control Jason, leaving Sophia III outside while you embark on your espionage. Many areas are entirely optional, and you may find yourself simply picking up multiple weapons for your tank. Or, you may simply find yourself dying, because this game is hard. It is so difficult, and so massive, that it makes most games, even much of today's, look minuscule.
Thank goodness it was just released on Wii U and that there are abundant save states. You will need them.
Anyways, each stage is a world in its own, and much like games such as Metroid and later Castlevanias, they are interconnected. You can traverse from stage to another and back again, if you feel the need or want to. You can't just openly travel to the second level without beating the first though. You must defeat the boss on one world to find an upgrade for Sophia III, which will change various attributes of said vehicle and give you more travel options. You may get a weapons upgrade, or the ability to traverse water with less hassle.
That is probably the best way I can describe the game in general. I posit that one must play the game to truly understand and appreciate it.
Without further ado, let's get down to the score-card:
There are two modes of gameplay, which tie together perfectly and make this game years ahead of its own time - few games from this era could do this so well. Both overhead and side-scrolling modes will take quite a bit of patience, but when you master them, you will likely find a ton of enjoyment in the variety of play.
The challenge is extremely demanding and rewarding. Controls are tight, but not "Mega Man" tight. Sophia can be a bit floaty, but if you die, it is still your own fault. There is also no save option, and for a game that is at least twice the size of Metroid, it needs one. Thankfully, the Wii U's save states rectify this problem. Also, while in overhead mode, some blocks that you shattered will reappear when going to another screen and back, and you won't be able to tell which ones you blasted unless you memorize where you have been.
All in all, the game is still extremely fun and rewarding, constantly improving on itself and never becoming stale.
Sunsoft's developers were no slouches in programming. The graphics are absolutely gorgeous. The variety of levels vary from lush greenery to undersea fortresses to ancient castles retrofitted with robots and technology. The animations are also very nice - just watching "the tank" bounce and float to emulate actual physics is a true testament to how meticulous the developers were just on graphics alone.
This game's soundtrack is beautiful. I can't even describe it accurately. I can say that the music is very catchy and that almost every tune matches its environment perfectly. Just type in "Blaster Master NES Soundtrack" on YouTube or another site, and prepare for chip-tune nirvana. The sound effects are awesome as well.
For some, this game may take you years to beat. That said, most people will never probably even beat it. It's still worth your time, and was just released on the Wii U system. This is a great example of a developer pushing the NES past its limits well before the system itself expired. This game is great and its developers should be heralded for their work.
Long live Sophia The 3rd and its pilot.
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