Quality Control – Blaster Master
Blaster Master is a game I’ve heard abunch about when I was a kid, and when I ended up accumulating a bunch of bookson video game strategies – none of which were officially licensed, including a few written by Jeff Rovin, who would later go on to write Tom Clancy’s Op Center series. The game interested me, though often the books I was reading didn’t have pictures to show me what the game looked like, so I had to make assumptions on what the game looked like.
So, when Nintendo Power #3 had a preview of Blaster Master, I felt like it was woth giving it a try. The premise of the game is fairly simple. Your pet frog is mutated by radioactive waste and goes down a giant hole in the ground. You chase after him and fall down the hole yourself. There is no sign of your pet frog nearby, but there is super-high tech tank nearby, which you hop into to rescue your pet and hopefully bring him back to normal.
The game itself is an action-exploration game, like Castlevania II and Metroid. Most of the game you spend in your tank, though there are some top-down Ikari Warriors style segments where you go out of your tank (and you’ll have to go through the enviroment a bit to reach some of those areas, but otherwise, you’ll be in your tank, doing a lot of platforming (yes the tank jumps) and shooting walking, flying, and swimming enemies. Occasionally, you’ll back-track through the game to access areas you previously couldn’t because you’ve obtained a new special ability that allows you to get there. Your basic Metroid level stuff. The game controls smoothly, the jumping works very well, especially considering your character is in a tank, and the Ikari Warriors stages are interesting as well.
There is just, in my opinion, one major problem with the game that I would classify as a deal-breaker. There are no password options, no options to save your game, and you start with precisely 3 lives, though you have unlimited continues. This means you have to beat the game in one sitting. At least Metroid, which came out before this, had the decency to give you a password option. This isn’t to say that the game is unbeatable, it has been beaten before (and you can probably find speed-runs of the game online), but this does, in my opinion, artificially raise the difficulty, and for a game like this, I would say that having no password mode (even to allow you to preserve the power-ups you’ve obtained) is worse than having limited continues in a beat-em-up like Streets of Rage, Final Fight, or Comix Zone.
Does It Live Up To The Hype: Sort of. It is an interesting an enjoyable action-platformer, but if you have a choice between this, and say, Castlevania II, take Castlevania II.