hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

RetRose Tinted: Blaster Master

6:00 PM on 08.19.2008 // Conrad Zimmerman
  @ConradZimmerman

Blaster Master is one of those games that I think just about everyone has at least heard of. It amazes me, however, that it doesn't seem to be one that is talked about all that much. It comes up in most conversations that I have regarding clasic NES games, but I'm almost invariably the person who mentions it.

The game was popular enough to merit roughly half a dozen games in the series before disappearing completely, so it has to have been popular. In a time where people seem to be clamoring for retro-remakes, where is the outcry for another Blaster Master?

Am I crazy for thinking this way? Games with vehicles as a major component, such as Assault Heroes and the recent Commando 3 seem to be reasonably popular on the XBLA service. Perhaps Blaster Master just wasn't that great of a game. I guess I'll find out after the jump.

Blaster Master

Let's start with the story, lovingly portrayed in a series of still images with no accompanying text when you don't hit the start button at the title screen. The main character has a frog which escapes from its aquarium and bounds into the backyard. Of course, the frog finds its way to the crate of radioactive waste everybody keeps stashed on their property and grows to massive proportions before burrowing its way into the ground.

So, what does our hero do? The only logical choice: He dives into the tunnel created by his radioactive frog. I guess it never crossed his mind that he could just go get another one. At the bottom of the pit, he finds a battle tank (with the highly epic name, "SOFIA the 3rd") and a suit of armor to wear. Suiting up, the adventure begins.

Blaster Master splits its time between 2D platforming with a heavy emphasis on exploration and isometric levels where you venture out of your tank. The objective is to defeat the horde of mutant creatures beneath the earth and reclaim the seven missing components of SOFIA the 3rd.

Blaster Master

Each of the game's eight platforming areas have a different aesthetic to them, from rugged caverns to high-tech facilities and the obligatory water level. It seems to have drawn some obvious inspiration from Metroid, in that you'll have to revisit areas you've already completed to reach new locations once you have acquired the necessary equipment.

The tank has the ability to shoot its main cannon either forward or straight up. In addition to this primary mode of attack, SOFIA has three special types of armament: Homing missles, a bolt of electricity that fires downward and a three-way missle. These have a limited amount of ammunition and you'll have to find more from dropped enemies or in item rooms. Finally, it has an impressive vertical leap for maneuvering around.

I absolutely adore the way SOFIA the 3rd controls for the first two-thirds of the game when you get the two final upgrades. These give the ability to drive on walls and ceilings, which is really cool. The problem is that the tank just does it automatically. You'll be moving toward the edge of a platform, intending to jump, when the tank drives downward. Since there's no way to disable the tank's functions once you have them, it becomes very inconvenient, especially in the spike-filled final level.

Your character can jump out at any time and go trekking about. His health is separate from SOFIA's and is fully restored whenever you hop back inside. Without the protection of his vehicle, however, he's susceptible to fall damage and his gun is significantly less effective on enemies. You'll have to do it in a few spots just to clear the way for Sophia, as well as to enter doorways that lead to boss encounters or power-ups.

Blaster Master

In these areas, the gameplay switches up. Now we get to see an adorable chibi-like version of the character. Seriously, I would love to have a little vinyl toy of the guy from this perspective. He's just so cute! 

In the isometric view, the little dude is armed with a gun and grenades. The gun can be upgraded by collecting power-ups that slowly increase its range and effectiveness. The final upgrade even lets you shoot through walls and just obliterates pretty much everything in its path. Taking a hit, however, will reduce your gun level in addition to your health. Considering the relative rarity of the upgrade items, avoiding damage becomes a huge priority.

Most of these areas contain caches of equipment, more ammunition for Sophia or fuel for the hover upgrade. Others are the lairs of huge boss enemies who guard Sophia's missing components. There's no way to tell which you're going to get outside of trial and error, and there's a level of tension as you step through the doors in these mazes. It could just be another room full of little enemies but, if it's small and square, there's a good chance you're in for a rumble.

Blaster Master

The bosses are a mixed bag and there's really only about five of them, as a couple wind up being repeats in later levels. For the most part, it's just a matter of avoiding them and shooting them in the face. One exception is the giant frog boss, which can only be injured when its mouth is open (and he's attacking you), which is really fun. For the most part, though, they aren't all that memorable.

As a game on its own, Blaster Master is really fun with few serious flaws. It's challenging without being ridiculous, has decent graphics and some fun music. The balance between tank platforming and the on-foot areas keep things feeling pretty fresh throughout. If you haven't taken the time to play this, I would highly recommend that you not emulate it. It isn't perfect, but I really enjoy driving SOFIA around.

As a final note, I would really like to see another stab at this series. There have been a few sequels, but they never quite lived up to the charm of the original. With all the retro love we've been getting recently, maybe somebody at Sunsoft will get the idea to put together a new entry. It may not be the first title people think of when looking back on NES games, but it is one of the better ones.

 



Conrad Zimmerman, Moustache
 Follow Blog + disclosure ConradZimmerman Tips
An avid player of tabletop and video games throughout his life, Conrad has a passion for unique design mechanics and is a nut for gaming history. He can be heard on the comedy podcast () and str... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

extatix avatarextatix
Seems rather excessive for a 3ds game. (3ds xl for scale) [img]http://i.imgur.com/DwOtP0s.jpg?1[/img]
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
Tried the stealth approach for awhile, time to switch things up. *plants C4 everywhere* I'll probably toss one on the poor schmuck that delivers my copy of MGS V. For taking so long.
WryGuy avatarWryGuy
Just a quick update for folks. Phil/Mike Martin is off the streets and safe for the next month. Thanks to everyone who helped out. You can keep up to on the forums: http://www.outerheavenforums.com/showthread.php?41974-The-Save-a-Phil-Foundation
Script avatarScript
Watching Twin Peaks for the first time. Just yooou... aaaand IIII...
Perro avatarPerro
So the 3DS Dragon Quest VII remake is coming to mobile in Japan, so there's a chance that version will get ported over here. Not ideal but if we get it at all I'll be happy!
The Travisionist avatarThe Travisionist
I'm just waiting for "Mad Max: U Mad, Bro?"
gajknight avatargajknight
Put down the deposit for my new car, will probably be able to pick it up on the weekend. Insurance is pretty good too, sub £1000 which is excellent. Kinda. My mum tried to reverse in 5th gear. She drives an automatic. What a noob. :P
Bardley avatarBardley
We are Diamond Dogs.
IDrawOnTape avatarIDrawOnTape
I get to work to stock and STAR WARS TOYS STAR WARS TOYS STREET DATE SEPT 4 OMG STAR WARS TOYS STAR WARS TOYS STREET DATE SEPT 4 STAR WARS TOYS STAR WARS TOYS STAR WARS TOYS STAR WARS TOYS STAR WARS TOYS STAR WARS TOYS STAR WARS TOYS WHY ISN'T IT SEPT 4?
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
Still waiting by the mailbox. Tranq'd a jogger and stuffed them into a locker just for fun. I keep throwing rocks to get the attention of the neighbors and then hiding in tall grass. They look noticeably upset. Probably because I kept them up all night.
ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
Metal Gear or Mad Max? The choice is obvious. [IMG]http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b321/Felth/obvious%20choice.jpg~original[/IMG]
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Quickpostmortem My wife´s dog died yesterday . Rest in peace Diamond Dog . [img]http://i.imgur.com/uVT3HlF.jpg[/img] Here's to you, Malu Rest forever here in our hearts The last and final moment is yours That agony is your triumph
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Xbone journey continues! I thought I would like Dead Rising 3 well enough as a huge fan of 1/2, but I must say I find it's emphasis on hard drama laughable and the game fundamentally disingenuine. Guess I'm moving on to Forza Horizon 2.
TheDefenestrator avatarTheDefenestrator
I dig the feature in Until Dawn where, if you have the Playstation camera, it will record you briefly during jump scares for you to watch later. It's a really neat use of an underused peripheral. Too bad I'm dead inside and never react to them.
Shinta avatarShinta
[img]http://i.imgur.com/oZ7CQJa.jpg[/img]
nanashi avatarnanashi
Fallout Shelter: Impossible to Learn, Easy to Master.
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
Not saying this is the case, but Kojima has gone on record as being a huge Mad Max: Fury Road fan. Konami decided to release MGSV on the same day as Mad Max TVG. They're trying piss on Kojima's lawn, man.
ooktar avatarooktar
Downloading Phantom Pain. ETA, 16 hours. Just in time for lunch tomorrow.
Mr Knives avatarMr Knives
OH WOW. Talk about a complete about face. After slogging through the horrid beginning and slow ass swap sequence this game picked up exponentially. So far, I'm enjoying the hell out of it now. All if forgiven. Thank you based Kojima.
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
Oh, joyful night. [youtube]https://youtu.be/6EfhAFA2yFE[/youtube]
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -