It that time again to sing the praises of a forgotten classic, This time we're looking at a game with nuclear weapons, a bull-dowser and a plot that i imagine EA would describe as "wallet suicide"
Ah the N64 days, the quirky console that both looked to the future with analogue sticks and 3D graphics and yet was a blast from the past with the now defunct Kart based games. Some were vehemently against the machine whilst others loved it. I belonged in the later camp, arguing in playgrounds that it was a better machine than the Playstation. I stand by this, despite the superb PSX library for two reasons: the stone cold classics a la Ocarina of Time and the unique games like Blast Corps.
It was a golden age for Rare software, and with Blast Corps they really lived up to their name. The basic concept is that a truck caring a nuclear missile is stuck on one course and cannot be changed. What’s the logical response to this? Why demolish everything in its way using a variety of weird and wonderful vehicles of course! From the power sliding dump truck to the stomping mech robot, this game had imagination coming out of the wa-zoo.
Set over a series of imaginative and well designed levels, you must drive, smash, stomp, blow up and generally cause carnage to stop the disaster. The levels are so well put together, that despite this chaotic premise they tap into puzzle solving and require expert timing. The vehicles take time to master, and there is plenty of scope with a gradual difficulty curve. The power slide truck for example, is hair tearingly difficult to the first time player, but with practice it proves to be a dominating force. As the levels grow, vehicle changes are required all the while keeping an eye on the clock. The main campaign is chaotic, challenging but most of all FUN.
And the fun didn’t stop there, as you progress time trial levels and challenges are unlocked. As you progress and earn medals and promotions, more and more levels are released, with a wide selection available. This proves an awesome distraction, but also another dimension to the vehicle’s uses and to test the player to their limits.
My favourite part of Blast Corps was its compulsive encouragement that you could do better. By awarding a medal and a rank to each level, the game encourages you to do it better, faster and with more precision. Long before it earned me a pretty platinum trophy, I 100%’d Blast Corps with glee, every challenge was perfectly placed to be horribly hard… but still possible. A classic video game trope, that only the Souls series keeps up, the game could be mastered and the rewards were great. Every hour was worth it when the Blast Corps team are charged with cleaning up the planets of the solar system, each one with a unique gravity and even more issues and problems to be solved.
Blast Corps is the sort of game that doesn't get made often these days. Perhaps by an Indie dev, but these sorts of quirky games just don’t get made. The N64 and to a lesser extent the Gamecube both had bizarrely wonderful titles, that where hard to explain but joys to behold.
The Blast Corps… we salute you.
We all know the fate of Rare games, and lets not dwell on it. Unfortunately it does mean that the only way to play Blast Corps is to dust off your Nintendo 64 and get a kart of ebay. Or find a good emulation, but you didn't hear it from me.