I have no idea what’s going on in the above commercial.
If you owned an N64 in the 90’s, then this meant two things: you probably didn’t own any of the other third-generation consoles, and you tried to get excited about every single minor release in the hopes of justifying the massive amount of money your parents spent on it.
It is therefore somewhat unsurprising that prior Blast Corps‘s release, Nintendo Power (and therefore, any kid who read it) built the game up to be the second coming: a quasi-nonlinear action game about total destruction and giant robots. What more could you want?
Blast Corps is one of those games that, while it hasn’t aged very well and isn’t fondly remembered due to the hype that surrounded it, still remains a fun and original entry in the N64’s meager library. Hell, if nothing else, it has the coolest dump truck in the history of videogames.
An automated truck full of nuclear missiles is on its way to a disposal facility when some malfunction or other causes the missiles to start leaking radioactive fluid (coloquially known as “nukejuice”*). The automated truck goes into red alert and sets a direct course for the disposal site in order to get the nukes out of a civilized area before they leak enough nukejuice to damage the ecosystem.
The problem? The truck’s newly set direct course, which cannot be changed or overridden, happens to go through a bunch of formerly populated areas, full of buildings and landmarks. If the truck touches a single building, the shock will detonate the bombs and kill thousands.
Which, of course, is where you come in. The Blast Corps, a demolition team with such specific and assumedly expensive equipment that one has to wonder how they could possibly maintain their operation for more than a few weeks before filing bankruptcy, is sent in to destroy all the uninhabited buildings between the nuke truck and the disposal site.
Blast Corps cleverly mixes action and puzzle gameplay in its main campaign. You’ll start off a level with a predetermined piece of demolition equipment — a dump truck, a bulldozer — and have to clear a path for the nuke truck as it slowly creeps its way up the map to the end of the level. Each vehicle is best suited to destroying certain types of buildings and, while still keeping an eye on the nuke truck’s progress, you’ll have to find other demolition vehicles and decide how to best destroy the varying types of buildings standing between the nukes and the level’s end.
Very tall buildings, for instance, are pretty much impervious to assault from the bulldozer but can be easily destroyed by the J-Bomb, a giant robotic jetpack which can buttstomp buildings from the air. The J-Bomb is basically what you’d get if Yoshi and Metal Gear had a baby, and the game’s most enjoyable levels tend to involve the J-Bomb in some way or another.
Other vehicles include a standard bulldozer, a motorcycle that fires rockets (like you do), and a really badass/infuriating/boring/awesome dump truck named “Backlash.”
I have to call out Backlash individually, because it is this particular vehicle which, by forcing me to use the Backlash and the Backlash alone, caused me to stop playing the game. As I’ve said, the Backlash is basically just a bigass dump truck. Why, one might ask, would a dump truck be of any use in destroying a building? If the game were called Pick Up Junk and Move it to Another Area Corps, then perhaps it might make sense, but Blast Corps? How are you supposed to destroy a building using a…
Oh. You mean, you don’t actually ram it into stuff? You have to get it at a high speed and intentionally skid, sending the truck’s armored rear careening into a building with the speed and motion of a bullwhip? That’s…well, it’s as badass-sounding as it is difficult to pull off. The dump truck controls only moderately well, and the actual whiplash manuever isn’t horrendously powerful given how long it takes to get an appropriate amount of speed. It’s comparatively useless given how straightforward many of the other vehicles are, but the feeling of essentially bitchslapping a skyscraper with your dump truck’s rear end is just too friggin’ cool. Again, though, it was a Backlash-only mission which led me to put the game down and never pick it up again.
Why you’re probably not playing it:
Blast Corps is pretty hard, so much so that I kind of have a hard time recommending it. Its myriad of vehicles and action-puzzle blending make it admirable, but, unlike something such as Space Station Silicon Valley, I just don’t see any real reason to revisit it today. Maybe if I ever get the urge to robo-buttstomp a few buildings I’ll eBay it, but for now it’s best left a forgotten game.
Oh! I completely forgot to mention that this game was made by Rare. The real Rare, that is: the Rare of vehicle-free Banjos and Kazooies, of Perfect Dark, of Diddy Kong Racing. Blast Corps is probably their most minor achievement on the N64, but it still exhibits the imagination and fearlessness of their other games of that time period. When the chips are down, I’d take Blast Corps over Kameo anyday.