How well do the cult classic's re-releases hold up on the Wii and 3DS Virtual Consoles?
It was years after I had played Blaster Master when I first heard that name and realized I had no idea how it related to the NES game at all. At that moment, Blaster Master took on a bit of a Citizen Kane-"Rosebud" mystery for me, especially since, once I discovered the name's meaning, I realized it had relatively little bearing on the game itself.
That's because the Blaster Master series isn't really known for its backstory, but instead for gameplay that fused vehicular exploration with on-foot combat as well as combined side-scrolling platforming with top-down run-and-gun action. None of this had anything to do with the game's American-market backstory of one boy's quest to save his 20-foot pet frog. (Ahhh, the eighties. I miss them so.)
The nostalgia and good will for the franchise lead to a revamped take on the gameplay with Blaster Master: Overdrive for WiiWare more than two decades later. That sort of longevity is good reason for gamers new and old to get curious about the roots of this cult classic game series as well as, not that it really matters, who "Sophia" really is.
Spoiler: S.O.P.H.I.A. is the tank.
|System||Virtual Console - Nintendo Entertainment System|
|Controllers||Wii Remote,Wii Classic,GameCube|
Blaster Master is a surprising and delightful blend of several different flavors of gameplay. A lot of your time is spent in an amazingly versatile tank that can blast enemies, leap from platform to platform, and earn upgrades and special weapons. The tank is perhaps the most iconic character of the deliciously 8-bit Blaster Master, since it's your main avatar as you fight through large labyrinthine levels that suggest a hint of Metroid-style exploration. However, the point of exploring these levels is to find doors and entrances into areas featuring the game's second mode of play: top-down "dungeons" where your main character leaves the tank to find more power-ups and enemies, as well as to take down each world's boss.
The two gameplay modes really set Blaster Master apart from many of its contemporaries, but also means you have to grow competent at both if you wish to beat the game. And Blaster Master is a game that will reward that competence with a healthy dose of old-school challenge. When you're on foot, getting hit by enemies reduces not just your life, but also your weapon's power-up level. Woe to you if you reach the boss with the lowest level gun and grenades!
Blaster Master successfully melds its different gameplay elements together into a coherent whole and challenges players to rise to the occasion. Lifelong fans can rejoice at the game's availability on Virtual Console, and there's a reason for everyone else to give the game a try and find out just what exactly all the hullabaloo is about.
|System||Virtual Console - Game Boy Color|
|Released||Sep 30, 2000|
Originally released in 2000, Blaster Master: Enemy Below on Game Boy Color is split between a side scrolling/platforming areas and a top-down adventuring areas. This run-and-gun game is as brilliant as it is challenging. The visuals are crisp and the game itself is absorbing.
After players get a handle on the controls the game can become engrossing. It is hard to go wrong with Blaster Master: Enemy Below. What's not to love about driving around in a tank and shooting down enemies? The parts where players can take control of Jason (the main character) are just as entertaining, being able to shoot down all who come across you as you venture further and further into the game. This game is a classic run-and-gun and if you haven't tried it, you should give it a shot.
- Josh Max