Author Topic: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master  (Read 11405 times)

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Offline Jonnyboy117

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RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« on: July 19, 2015, 11:23:12 PM »
Sometimes, when you leave luck to heaven, things turn out pretty well. That was certainly the case when we left RetroActive up to Nintendo's iron hand, and they provided... the beloved, unique, awesome Blaster Master! This NES classic from legendary developer Sunsoft is available from ye olde Virtual Console on no less than three different platforms: Wii, Wii U, and 3DS. For the originalists, the NES cartridges should be easy to find -- Blaster Master was quite a popular game in its day.


Please use this forum thread to discuss the game, and remember, we'll be looking for great posts to be quoted on an upcoming episode of Radio Free Nintendo!
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Offline ClexYoshi

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2015, 11:44:46 AM »
So... I've heard about this game a lot, but I've never played it.

Offline Disco Stu

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2015, 10:18:55 AM »
Is this game easier than its contemporary action games like Ninja Gaiden and Castlevania? Because I really don't feel like playing a game that hard right now...
I got hooked on the white stuff back in the 70s.

Offline ClexYoshi

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2015, 04:08:07 PM »
okay, so I played a bit. first thoughts;

the platforming in SOPHIA/Metal Attacker is strangely floaty feeling. I was not expecting there to be momentum to the jumps in this game that looks more Mega Man or Metroid than anything. I also wasn't expecting Jason/Kane to take fall damage, so... that was a thing.

the top-down stuff invokes a lot of Fester's Quest in my mind... this makes sense I guess because both are Sunsoft games, but man, the top-down stuff is a little bit on the rough side thanks to details like Jason/Kane holding his firearm at his side and thus the shots coming out the side and prohibiting you from hititng enemies who take advantage of this. the game has done an unfair thing with this already in a spot, so that worries me. hopefully upgrading the gun doesn't turn it into this unwieldly whirly bird thing that gets caught on walls and flies around the enemies like what happens in Fester's Quest.

the first boss was enjoyable and easy. granted, I broke out the good ol' NES Max for it, but yes... quite fun. it was also fun finding a copy of this at the flea market.

Offline sudoshuff

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2015, 11:14:21 AM »
I also wasn't expecting Jason/Kane to take fall damage, so... that was a thing.


I will echo this.  Don't let Jason fall off a ladder...or you will die.


the top-down stuff is a little bit on the rough side thanks to details like Jason/Kane holding his firearm at his side and thus the shots coming out the side and prohibiting you from hitting enemies who take advantage of this.


This is one of the most frustrating things about the game. You have to really work hard at positioning yourself so a shot actually hits an enemy.  The worst enemy in the game, in my opinion, are the worms during the SOPHIA/Tank segments that are too short for the tank to hit.  Unless I am missing something, you have to get Jason out of the tank every time to kill one (or use homing missiles or something).   Overall, I'm having fun with this game, despite the occasional drastic frame rate drop when there is a lot of action on the screen. I've made it to the third boss.

Offline Mop it up

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2015, 05:11:58 PM »
Is this game easier than its contemporary action games like Ninja Gaiden and Castlevania? Because I really don't feel like playing a game that hard right now...
No, it's about on par. Maybe tougher until you know what you're doing. The game does get a little easier after you get certain upgrades however, though some of the bosses are pretty difficult, especially if you don't have the max gun upgrade (which you'll lose anyway if you get hit even once).

The worst enemy in the game, in my opinion, are the worms during the SOPHIA/Tank segments that are too short for the tank to hit.  Unless I am missing something, you have to get Jason out of the tank every time to kill one (or use homing missiles or something).
All three of the tank's special weapons should be capable of hitting those worm things, so they're easy to deal with if you have some. From what I remember, the special weapon pickups are pretty plentiful, so don't be stingy with them!

Offline stalfo

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2015, 12:24:48 AM »
Downloaded on my 3DS the other day and got to playing it for a little while. I had previously thought I had never played this, but turns out after watching the amazing opening cut scene that I have played this back in the day with my friend. Thought I didn't really remember any of the gameplay aside from there being a tank and that opening scene.


So after jumping down the hole you are thrown into a tank and set on your way. My first thoughts were how the controls are pretty floaty, much more than I thought they'd be. The tank has some momentum after you stop moving in one direction which takes some getting used to. I don't love it, but after playing I got the hang of platforming and dealing with enemies.


What's interesting is when your in the tank its a 2D platformer and your tank has some weapons to deal with enemies, but you can jump out of the tank and control Jason, the protagonist of the game. By jumping out of the tank you can deal with smaller enemies that your tank can't shoot (because it goes over their heads) and thought this was a pretty cool wrinkle in the gameplay, it does get annoying jumping in and out of the tank constantly, especially god forbid you jump down a ledge and just get owned by fall damage.


Jason can also enter doors that your tank can't get through and when you do the game turns into a top down shooter. These are where you find upgrades to your gun and ultimately these are where the bosses are located. Navigating these rooms are far easier then dealing with some of the enemies in the tank. I thought the mix of the two styles of gameplay kept the game fresh and fun so you weren't too burnt out of just platforming.


The enemies and bosses (beat the first three of four bosses) are pretty fun and challenging. With upgraded gun the bosses become much easier, but losing life also knocks down your firepower. The worst part of the game is the noticeable slow down when multiple enemies are on screen and this tends to happen quite a bit if you avoid the smaller enemies that require you to pop out of the tank. Also with the most upgraded gun while fighting a boss a lot is going on that causes quiet a bit of slow down as well. 


For a game that came out in 1988 I really enjoyed the non linear style of play. While the game does have different areas that you'll progress through, theres a good amount of exploring to do and from what I've read there will be times when you have to go back to previous areas to advance further into the game. The music is also a great pleasure to listen to, I'm still amazed at how much they were able to do with so little back in NES era.


Overall I've enjoyed my time with Blaster Master thus far and hope to continue playing when I have time (altho tough when playing Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker and I just picked up Rhythm Heaven). The gameplay is fun and challenging and sure it has its flaws such as the slow down and some annoying enemies, but every game has its problems. I'd recommend for the $4.99 to check it out if your a fan of retro games or just want to experience a bit of gaming history.



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Offline Robok W

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2015, 07:34:37 PM »
Hello! Just checking in to say I registered just to participate in the discussion of Blaster Master! I've been a long time listener and love your podcast. I have always played along with retroactive but haven't joined the discussion until now

This game was too hard for me when I was young, and I haven't even given it a thought until you guys brought it up for Retroactive. I hope to find a new appreciation for it.

Offline ClexYoshi

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2015, 09:53:26 PM »
I have returned with more thoughts on this guy. I can understand why this is such a classic and why it's so beloved. there's a lot of game here, and along the adventure, there's a real sense of progression with SOPHIA's progression. it blends two genres and does it in a way that isn't completley clumsy.

There's no doubt in my mind now that the top down stuff is the weak point of the game. it's during these segments in particular that the enemy spawns are just outright erratic for a game that takes gun upgrades away for making simple mistakes. I'd be fine with that if the gun upgrades were dropped a little more commonly (akin to Cave Story's gun EXP), but alas. hindsight is 20/20. I also am STILL struggling with the issue of positioning with the gun on vertical plains to be just... odd. it's a very limiting thing when your shots tend to Jason's right the way they do.

Also, what do you folks think of the localized story plot of the radioactive pet frog and surprise super tank! vs. the original game's plot being about a last ditch effort to save your home world from complete enslavement/eradication?

Offline sudoshuff

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2015, 11:44:25 PM »
Ok, any tips on the third boss (The one with the disappearing squares)?  I am still stuck on it.  I enter the boss room with both meters full and still am unable to beat it.  I mostly have been trying to shoot it from a distance, avoid its fire, and use the close range weapon/mines if possible.  It could totally be an issue of me not being good at the game.

Offline Robok W

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2015, 01:44:06 PM »
Ok, any tips on the third boss (The one with the disappearing squares)?  I am still stuck on it.  I enter the boss room with both meters full and still am unable to beat it.  I mostly have been trying to shoot it from a distance, avoid its fire, and use the close range weapon/mines if possible.  It could totally be an issue of me not being good at the game.

I just got to Area 3. So I'll see what you're talking about soon. 

I was trying to do this with restore points, but right before the level 2 boss I found two items that gave Jason full meters...and I couldn't create restore point fast enough.  :P:

Offline ClexYoshi

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2015, 12:01:17 AM »
Ok, any tips on the third boss (The one with the disappearing squares)?  I am still stuck on it.  I enter the boss room with both meters full and still am unable to beat it.  I mostly have been trying to shoot it from a distance, avoid its fire, and use the close range weapon/mines if possible.  It could totally be an issue of me not being good at the game.

I'd just open up with grenades until it starts to make the block clones of it'self, and then orient yourself for the most part towards the center -bottom of the screen so you're mostly ready to use the primary gun to blast the parts down. obviously, be mindful of the spread laser attacks and such and take advantage of the fully upgraded gun's wide spread fire pattern. the battle WILL go south if you lose too many gun upgrades.

Offline Robok W

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2015, 03:19:54 AM »
The third boss....I use the "spray and pray" approach and I moved around a lot.

Offline ClexYoshi

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2015, 11:26:41 PM »
By the way, did anybody get stuck at the infamous backtracking portion after you finish Area 3? I knew just because of proliferation of knowledge, but it defenatley seems like one of those things designed to sell copies of Famitsu/Nintendo Power/Magazine of choice.

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2015, 04:34:43 AM »
I highly suggest anyone playing Blaster Master for the first time to look over the manual! (http://www.vnoteschronicle.com/sites/default/files/games/blaster-master/graphics/blaster-master-manual.pdf) It's got a few maps of varying detail which will definitely help.
I remember trying this game as a kid and just being totally overwhelmed with the branching pathways and overall difficulty.  Taking my first real attempt at it now, it's still very challenging at first.  A few hours in, though, I'm really getting the hang of it and making significant progress with each new game.  You really feel a sense of discovery when you finally come across the next boss or area.
The constant battle to keep your guy's gun powered up is a serious chore and a majour blight on this game.  Visually, it looks unique with it's muted colour palette.  Some of the backgrounds look great while others look strangely thrown together.  The music is pretty great overall.  Oh, and the slowdown?  You can't really complain about that.  It's a product of the hardware.  Besides, it's an advantage when you're being swarmed!
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it!
« Last Edit: August 04, 2015, 06:56:48 AM by Shaymin »

Offline sudoshuff

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2015, 11:47:51 AM »
Ok, I finally got past the third boss...thanks for the tips.  The way I dealt with the backtracking portion after that was to completely die in each area.  Continuing after you die sends you to the beginning of your current area.  So I quickly got back to area 1 and found hover capsules to continue from there.

Offline Robok W

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2015, 02:20:30 PM »
Ok, I finally got past the third boss...thanks for the tips.  The way I dealt with the backtracking portion after that was to completely die in each area.  Continuing after you die sends you to the beginning of your current area.  So I quickly got back to area 1 and found hover capsules to continue from there.

I think the only problem with that is you get 4 or 5 continues then permanent game over. Which I used all of mine already :( Now I'm in area 6.

I keep losing gun power thanks to enemies spawning after the map moves to the next "section" of the interior. Frustrating.

Offline HellsAttack

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2015, 10:13:11 PM »
I just played Blaster Master with a friend over the weekend to contribute to RetroActive, my favorite feature on Nintendo World Report.


I had a used copy as a child from vacuum cleaner repair shop. For some reason they sold random electronics as well, including NES carts. I loved it because the gameplay was so varied, the tank portion, jumping out of the tank in the overworld, and the top-down dungeons. It was always very hard and I never could pass the 3rd stage because I never placed proper emphasis on the GUN powerups. I once saw my adult neighbor get the walk climbing unit, but never beat the game.


When my friend and I played it this week, we started playing normally, only intending to use save states but we quickly decided to turn on infinite hover and sub-weapons. Eventually, we just busted out the full walkthrough maps. http://www.auriplane.net/blastermaster/01-level1-a.png


I love this game still, despite the fact it doesn't really respect the players time. My friend's first console was the SNES, so he doesn't really see what all the fuss is about. It really is one of the best games on the NES, easily top 25. 10/10 ambition, 7.5/10 for execution. Limited continues is just cruel.


I'm bought Blaster Master: Enemy Below in high school, but never finished it. Now that it's on 3DS I'm planning to go back and finish it.


If you liked this game, you'd love Blaster Master: Overdrive for the Wii. It fixes a lot of problems (but not all). I DID beat that one, and it was really good.

Offline ClexYoshi

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2015, 11:04:56 AM »
Indeed, Thank you for choosing this one, Nintendo. it was enlightening. This game fits in with a fair bit of other Sunsoft games in that it is a VERY flawed experience that has such big, juicy balls that most folks at the time were able to overlook the frustrating bits and just enjoy this game and it's huge ambition. I'm immediatley reminded of other sunsoft games that are a bit too big for their britches like Batman: Return of the Joker or Gremlins 2... or hell, even Fester's Quest, which makes the better analogue here.

Fester's Quest posesses the top-down gameplay from blaster master mixed with some houses you enter and then get a first person dungeon crawl mode. Much like this, Uncle Fester has a gun that he holds at his side so he has the frustrating shot angles, he has gun upgrades that cause the bullets to fly everywhere BUT your target, the rather frustrating enemy spawns that happen if you scroll the screen anywhere NEAR where an enemy is supposed to spawn, and of course, the lost of gun power if anything should hit you.

The big reason Blaster Master is remembered as a classic and Fester's Quest is not though all falls into the sense of empowerment that SOPHIA provides you. ANY time you're out and about as Jason, you feel super vulnerable and weak and it sucks because you have to fight some sort of abomination boss and enemies with really messed up spawns in a cramped space because of the size of the overhead sprites and it's claustraphobic and frustrating and stressful any time you set foot outside of that tank to do a top-down area.

When you emerge though with your shiny new wall treds though, oh MAN does that feel like MAGIC. for the bits you get to travel around in that tank, you feel so empowered and so relieved. This leads me to believe the huge sprite size for the top-down segments with Jason is intentional not only as a graphical showcase, but also as a gameplay feature to make you feel this way about things...

By comparison, Fester's Quest offers you ZERO reprieve from the awful and clunky top-down stuff. going into the houses isn't relieving because it's a small break in a house that you're liable to get lost in trying to find gun power ups so your shots will go in a shot pattern that makes the Power Stone from Mega Man 5 seem like a useful and accurate weapon before going back outside where there's a mutant frog spawn like 2 steps away from the door of the house you've etnered.

Offline Sundoulos

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2015, 01:26:06 PM »
I agree.  The SOPHIA sections were great, but the top-down Jason-only sections really play like hot garbage(at least to this jaded 30-something gamer).  I tolerated these areas when I was younger (with the aid of my trusty Nintendo Power dungeon maps), but in this most recent play through, I found myself just wanting to leap frog this areas and get back to the tank. 

In the top-down sections, it seemed as if the game was designed to require the player to memorize enemy positions and patterns in order to successfully pass without getting hit.  When you lose gun power every time you are hit, this is a drag.  It's an interesting concept, but I think it mostly works to the game's detriment due to some of the design decisions.  Even the mid-tier gun power-ups are weird; I found that some of the levels actually put you at a greater disadvantage, especially when the bullets start looping in wide arcs and end when they land on an obstruction.    Even if the game dropped gun powerups more frequently, this wouldn't be as much of an issue.   

Also, I always remember being disappointed that Jason's gun power-ups didn't somehow translate to the side scrolling sections where you control Jason.  This would have been useful for the entirety of Area 5 (the underwater sections).

Despite it's difficulty, my favorite section of the game is also one of my most feared:  Area 5.  I love the music in this stage; it's relatively serene when compared to the rest of the soundtrack, but since you spend most of your time separated from the tank, it represents one of the most vulnerable and dangerous points in the game.   I love that sub power-up, though; after that is acquired, Area 5, is one of my favorite sections of any game ever.  I always felt like I had accomplished something after passing that entire section of the game, and I felt like the tank-sub powerup was fun and fairly empowering.     

In general, I'm not sure I can say anything else that hasn't already been stated here or will be stated on the podcast.  Blaster Master is one of my favorite games of all time.  I saved for this as a kid, owned it, and played the ever-loving crap out of it.  I loved Sunsoft game sountracks in general, but Blaster Master has one of the best game soundtracks of all time, let alone on the NES.  I kind of wish there had been worthy successors in the series that matched the best parts of the original. 

As an aside, I enjoyed Blaster Master: Overdrive well enough, but I was mostly sad that the music remixes did not hold a candle to the originals.
"A creature revolting against a creator is revolting against the source of his own powers--including even his power to revolt...It is like the scent of a flower trying to destroy the flower." - C.S. Lewis, in a preface to Milton's Paradise Lost

Offline Sundoulos

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #20 on: August 06, 2015, 01:37:05 PM »
I hope that if any developer ever revisits Blaster Master/Metafight universe again, that they'll consider making it so that you fight some of the bosses while inside the tank.  :) 
"A creature revolting against a creator is revolting against the source of his own powers--including even his power to revolt...It is like the scent of a flower trying to destroy the flower." - C.S. Lewis, in a preface to Milton's Paradise Lost

Offline Robok W

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2015, 04:31:53 PM »
I guess I'm the weirdo who actually likes the top down sections. I do agree the SOPHIA sections are better, but despite the weird collision detection and annoying AI, I thought the idea of raiding an interior for loot after cruising around in the tank was fun with spike and pitfalls to avoid. If I could change those sections at all, I would prevent your gun's power from diminishing as you take damage. Powering up your gun before a boss is rewarding, and the cheap AI makes it not as enjoyable as I think it could have been.

Offline Sundoulos

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #22 on: August 06, 2015, 05:52:56 PM »
I actually like the idea of the increasing and diminishing power of the gun; I just think it would have worked better if it were easier to grind enemies or find other methods to power it back up again.  Cave Story, for instance, refined this idea (though I'm not sure whether or not Blaster Master/Metafight was a direct inspiration for that game) and turned it into something really fun and engaging.  My favorite gun in Cave Story was an optional one that actually increased in power as your health decreased.
"A creature revolting against a creator is revolting against the source of his own powers--including even his power to revolt...It is like the scent of a flower trying to destroy the flower." - C.S. Lewis, in a preface to Milton's Paradise Lost

Offline Robok W

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #23 on: August 08, 2015, 04:27:37 AM »
I just stayed up til 4 am to finish the game.

I felt like I completely cheesed the last boss by staying to the right of the screen, so his whip can't reach me there but I was happy to play it to the end. The last purple-ish hallway to get to the final boss is brutal with those worms.. so thank you to Restore Points!

Also, the music in this game.. so cool. Thanks for a fun retroactive idea!!

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Re: RFN RetroActive (Jr.) #33: Blaster Master
« Reply #24 on: August 08, 2015, 01:28:17 PM »
Enemies that don't appear until they're fully on-screen tho.  X(