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Charge 'N Blast (Dreamcast) artwork

Charge 'N Blast (Dreamcast) review


All I wanted was a simple, entertaining, gimmick-free Dreamcast title to play, and Charge 'N Blast appeared to fit that description. Originally from the arcades, the game is a Cabal-style, on-rail shooter where your character is only allowed limited movement at the front of the screen, bouncing left and right on ground-level to dodge attacks. Since Sega has a history of solid rail and light gun shooters, with classics such as Space Harrier, Panzer Dragoon, and The House of the Dead, it's hard to imagine the company messing up this concept. I'm sure Dreamcast owners at the time of the game's release, which was shortly after Sega announced halting console production, had similar feelings, wanting something fun for the console's closing months.

Not even midway through the first stage, I thought this was some kind of elaborate joke by Sega. You know how, in shooting games, you have the freedom to shoot things the moment you press buttons? That doesn't happen here... because this game has a gimmick. You have a fire button, but before you can use this button, you first have to press one of three other buttons, each housing a unique attack. Then you have to wait for a meter to charge before you can finally press the fire button, hence Charge 'N Blast. Hmm. You can attack when the meter builds up a minuscule charge, but the damage caused is so insignificant, you might as well be shooting blanks.

No seriously, the main concept is to stand around and wait for attacks to charge up.

In any other scenario, this could have worked with a little more thought put into it, but within the context of an arcade action title, it's an awful idea. This is especially evident as Charge 'N Blast was specifically designed as a quarter muncher; each stage is divided into brief sections, and you have to clear these sections of enemies before the brief timer hits zero, prompting the use of a continue out of a limited stock if unsuccessful. Slow gun play against a quick time limit. What a beautiful combination. And of course there's a limited stock of two continues for the console version, since there has to be some artificial method for extending play time. Never mind actually adding new content in an effort to genuinely prolong the experience.

Your first playthrough is going to be bumpy, simply due to the initial confusion of why the game is operating the way it does. You might even think Charge 'N Blast is a figment of your imagination. Don't let that difficult start fool you into thinking this could actually be challenging, because once you fully understand the charge gimmick and sensitive lock-on function, the game's shameful, shoddy level design is embarrassing to play within its five stages. To combat your slow charges, the enemies counter with equally slow attacks, which you can easily dodge with a simple hop to the left or right. There's even an on-screen "WARNING" that tells when attacks are coming. Really, the only time you'll get hit is when you're not paying attention, and considering the droning feeling this game gives off, well, you might get hit a lot.

One commendable thing this release does right is the corny, sci-fi vibe, where your Earth defense crew of three battle the likes of giant insects in the city, drooling lizard men chilling at the beach, a Godzilla cameo, and purple-winged demons destroying "Las Vegas". It's unfortunate this theme has to be in a terrible game. I know we, as a planet, love making fun of Sega for their blunders, but even this level of incompetence is beneath their arcade standards. Who approved this? In fact, who approved porting this to the Dreamcast? That takes time and money to do. Surely people want to spend $40 on a game that's insultingly simplistic, takes less than 30 minutes to beat with no replay value, and is a stain on its spiritual predecessors, right? At least Sega of America wisely passed on publishing this... in favor of the magnum opus known as 18 Wheeler. Instead, they passed that honor to another eager company, which is the smartest thing any division of Sega has done with Charge 'N Blast.


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (September 09, 2016)

Happy New Year


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