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Blaster Master (NES) artwork

Blaster Master (NES) review

"Take Sofia for a ride."

Blaster Master is one of the most talked NES games of its time, conveying multiple ways to transverse the fictional world on which it takes place, having memorable game music, and a cult following on which endures even today.

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The game takes the protagonist driving inside a tank-like vehicle as it shoots away at alien creatures which try to impede his progress. The non-linear platform has you go into various sections on each area, most of which you must backtrack once you have the means to open new segments to continue your quest. This can be achieved by encountering power-ups and defeating boss type enemies which would otherwise guard the means to continue your mission. This gameplay is pretty similar to the likes of Metroid and Zelda which were synonymous for their exploration gameplay mechanics. Unlike said games however there is no password or save battery back up to record your progress to later come back to your quest. Once your lives are spent you may continue but your weapons will all be reset, having to explore and accumulate once more in order to have your weapons well stocked. Continues are also limited so you would be wise to memorize areas to decide the best way to accomplish the game.

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Perhaps one of the most innovative features is the fact that you can exit your tank vehicle and explore areas where it cannot fit in. However this means you are most prone to attack and cannot as much punishment as when you are inside said vehicle. Some areas where you must explore without your vehicle turn into top view stages, where you must brave enemies and boss battles with your blaster alone. You can increase the power of your blaster and damage in such areas is diminished unlike whenever you exit the vehicle outside. You can regain all of your health whenever you board your tank making this a bit easier whenever you have to fight enemies on your own.

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Different types of weapon upgrades can be collected either by defeating enemies or finding them littered around areas. Some of these power-ups are homing missiles which target on any moving enemy, but cannot attack them if they are shorter than their reach. It is quite weird to see a missile just floating atop a moving enemy without ever trying to destroy it. This also happens on the top view stages, where your character's over sized head seems impervious to enemy attacks. You can definitely take advantage of this whenever you are in a difficult area to wander through. Another tidbit to complain about is whenever you exit you vehicle and fall from a ledge to the ground below you suffer falling damage to the point of forfeiting a life. Whether this is a glitch or intended makes it quite annoying whenever you have to leave your tank behind to continue exploring areas by yourself.

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It is quite rewarding when you find ways to continue your quest and enter a whole new area to explore. The uncertainty of how to explore a new setting without knowing the dangers that awaits you is quite exhilarating and gives you this satisfying feeling of finally being able to make any progress after searching for ways to continue within the world of the game. The unfortunate lack of saving and password features makes it difficult to appreciate the game in spite of all its neat features. The fact you can continue without your power-ups takes a strain in you when having to find everything again just to continue the game. Another problem found happens whenever you exit the vehicle in a position where is hard to ever getting back inside of it again, leaving you at the mercy of enemies that can kill you with two hits without having a chance to protect yourself.

Despite said flaws Blaster Master is quite a blast to play. Its exploration theme alone makes it for an entertaining title on the NES system.


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Community review by CptRetroBlue (June 28, 2019)

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