An unstoppable Bart Simpson of a game!
Blast Corps is based on a very novel idea indeed. You are in charge of a variety of heavy duty vehicles which must be used to lay waste to a number of hitherto pristine structures. As a spur,there is the ever-looming presence of an out-of-control missile carrier hurtling behind you. Fail to get everything out of its path, and the world comes to a booming end.
The trucks all have different abilities, and you can often decide which is best for a particular job. Some are front-end fitted, others require scything back-spins in order to clear the path. They walk, barrel, fly and cartwheel. In the new age of gameplay mechanics you might think this too simple. Sure, itfs straightforward nonsense, but it is engaging. There are 50 levels here, many different styles of play, tons of secret goodies and a couple of neat bonus missions.
Players are often forced to use more than one vehicle during a mission. You may control one car, then have to move the driver out and into another. The missions take some learning. They include having to find distressed scientists who will create bigger, meatier and nastier vehicles. If those 50 levels aren't enough, you can always go back over old levels later. As in Mario 64, the game turns in on itself with missions back-ended.
The style of control is top-down. This seemed to bring together the fun of ancient arcade game Rampage and the addictive qualities of Micro Machines. It works well with different trucks taking on a variety of driving personalities on different terrains.
There are 12 vehicles in all. The most useful are diggers and they range from the straight-forward and splendidly destructive Ram Dozer, to the Back Lash and the airborne Skyfall. Ballista is a missile-launching super-bike, J-Bomb a walking vehicle that simply trots roughshod over anything in its way. Cyclone Suit is a Catherine Wheel with a mission and Thunderfist Plus pretty much explains itself. Then there are the mission-based vehicles including freight-trains, juggernauts, lorries and racing cars abound.
Technically, Blast Corps is by no means the most impressive game of Nintendo 64*5 first generation. It does show off a few good tricks Including lovely reflective metallic textures on the better vehicles. Graphically, the game is a treat with excellent use of the hardware's reflection mapping and alpha-channeling transparency abilities. Will it be a must-buy? If there had been two play abilities it would be impossible to resist. As it is, it looks promising enough though longevity could be the question which taxes reviewers.
Prospects: Astounding fun from the Rare boys married with the n64*s superb graphics capabilities.
Blast Corps DownloadsBlast Corps download
One of those games that defies categorisation. Blast Corps is best described as a combination of racing game and puzzler. A nuclear missile carrier is rolling towards destruction - you have to use a variety of vehicles to clear a safe route for it. It's destruction on a massive scale and good fun, though not that long-lasting unless you're into exploring every square inch.
Okay. Brace yourself. There's a nuclear missile carrier -- right? -- and it's carrying a pair of defective missiles to a place where -- for some reason -- they must be detonated safely. Except, they've started leaking. Yes. So... the missile carrier has become damaged, and -- no, really -- has started to drive... itself... automatically... to... the... detonation... site. Er. And also, it's taking the most direct route, through towns and cities. And, er, if anything blocks its path the missiles will detonate instantly. For some reason.
What This Means In Practice
As a member of the elite Blast Corps, what you've got to do, basically, is clear a path for the carrier. Buildings need demolishing, holes need filling and gaps need bridging. And all the time the missile carrier's inching slowly towards disaster. At the start of each level you're given one Blast Corps vehicle, but you may be able to find other, better ones as you play.
Each Blast Corps mission begins with you sitting in one of the following vehicles, each of which is designed for a specific purpose. You may come across further vehicles as you play through the mission. If you're good.
It's not all knocking buildings down. Blast Corps also has a few extra bits and pieces for] your little bloke to hop in and out of.
Used to pick things up -- and then put them down again. Good for lifting crates and vehicles over stretches of water and railway tracks. The joystick swivels the arm around, A and B move the hook in and out, and R raises and lowers your load.
The fastest way to get from one side of the playing area to the other. Trains can also carry other vehicles on their flatbed trucks and, when parked in appropriate places, can form bridges across the track. Steering is clearly unnecessary, but L and R toot the whistle.
Boats work much like trains, with simple forward and backward controls and a flat area for loading vehicles and crates onto.
Of very little use, but fun to drive around in, and the hotrod is the vehicle of choice for race course levels. L and R either play Dixie on the hooter or, on the police car, flash the lights and sound the siren. This pleases us.
You don't actually get to drive this, but you'll find it parked at the end of each level. It's what you hop into when you've completed the mission and want to return to the globe.
You can't control the helicopter either. But at the beginning of a mission it'll overfly the carrier's path, giving you a glimpse of what's to come, before dropping you off in the starting position. Then it'll circle overhead looking for survivors.
Sample Mission 2
As you get further into Blast Corps, the missions get more and more involved. As soon as you solve one problem another crops up.
It's become something of a Nintendo tradition that there's always more to their games than there at first appears. Which, in the case of Blast Corps, is just as well, as it doesn't take long to demolish its 20 main missions. So what happens next?
For some reason, to ensure that the missile carrier can be detonated safely, six scientists are required. For similarly tenuous reasons, these six are hidden throughout the levels that you've already conquered. So you'll need to go back and ferret them all out. This is excellent fun as you'll find all sorts of secret passages and underground railway systems that you'll previously have overlooked in your haste to bash down buildings. A couple of the scientists are quite fiendishly buried, but altogether they won't take you more than an hour or so to find.
The Space Shuttle
Great celebrations, then, as disaster is averted and the missiles are blown up safely. But -- oh no! -- now the Space Shuttle's in trouble. It's having to make an emergency landing... guess where? Yep, right in the middle of a city.
With the Shuttle safe the Blast Corps team are just about to put their feet up when -- aarrghh -- it's discovered that there are lots of buildings on the Moon that need bashing down. For some reason. Much low-gravity fun ensues, and with a completely new set of graphics, too. (Except, guess which of Blast Corps' fine vehicles you're given... Bah. )
The Gold Medals
Each mission you complete earns you one gold medal. However, you can earn another by returning to the scene and knocking down every remaining building and collecting every RDU (little things that light up when you go near them).
The Bonus Games
As well as the main mission, Blast Corps has loads of extra challenges -- little races, buildings to demolish within a given time, that sort of thing. There's even a version of pool with a bulldozer and some TNT crates. And a sort of Pac Man. At the end you're given a medal depending on how well you did.
The Outer Planet
Get a gold medal on every level and, some say, you'll be sent on extra Moon-style missions to Mercury, Venus, Mars and who-knows-where-else. It's possible - the planets can be seen in the background.
With Blast Corps, Nintendo and Rare are claiming they've created 'an entirely new genre of game'. Psh, yeah. But, if you think about it, they're right. Every Nintendo 64 game so far slots neatly into a generously-guanoed pigeon hole. Mario Kart 64's a racing game; Pilotwings 64's a flight sim; Turok's a Doom game; and so on. But Blast Corps's a... well, a what? A smash-'em-up? It's not just about demolition: there's all sorts of thoughtful vehicle-juggling to be done. A save-the-world game? No. A driving game? No no.
And it's this inability to be labelled that makes Blast Corps so immediately appealing. You start playing it, and right away you're doing things that you've never done in a game before. You're skidding around in a dumper truck, tail-sliding into buildings. You're driving a train. You're causing a giant robot to somersault into office blocks. You're lifting a bulldozer across some railway tracks with a crane. You're desperately trying to bash down a line of houses towards which a radioactive lorry is steadily inching, a bead of perspiration forming on your temple.
The levels get better and better the further in you play. They begin as simple bashing-down-buildings-against-the-clock affairs, but then gradually evolve into more thoughtful, puzzle-style scenarios. How do you release J-Bomb from that impregnable tomb? How are you supposed to destroy that enormous building when there's no TNT anywhere? How on earth are you going to get to the top of that massive cliff?
I got frustrated from time to time. In fact, a couple of times I said some rude words. Even Tim looked shocked. Not all the levels are brilliantly designed, too many relying on the contrived tactic of giving you a huge number of buildings to destroy and then a really rubbish vehicle (the annoyingly useless Backlash, usually) to do it with. I found myself having to start again from scratch rather too many times in some of the more convoluted puzzly levels, having to repeat the early, simple steps long after I'd got bored of them. (An echo of Lemmings - which I despise - here. ) Then there are niggly faults, like the way vehicles sometimes get stuck in the scenery (particularly railway tracks), or the way your little bloke often blunders straight back into vehicles he's just hopped out of, or the restricted selection of views which never quite seem to zoom out far enough to let you see what you're doing.
But Blast Corps is overridingly great. It's just so refreshing to have all these new toys to play with, and find oneself in so many new situations. Several elements work together to make the game compelling: the difficulty of controlling the demolition vehicles; the not knowing quite what you're meant to do next; the carrier advancing relentlessly while you're running around in panic; and the rewards you're constantly earning in the form of medals and bonus levels. It's great.
The graphics? Oddly, I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about them - there was simply too much to be done. They're actually extremely good, as it happens, with tonnes of detail, no slow-down or fogging (even in action replay mode, where acres of finely detailed landscape can be seen stretching off into the distance), and some smashing transparent smoke and explosion effects. But I didn't really notice much of it until I came back to take some pictures for the review because the game itself demands so much attention. And that's great. With the Nintendo 64 we've reached the point where amazingly realistic graphics can simply be taken for granted and a game can, just like in the 'good' old days, be judged purely by what you actually do in it.
Given that Blast Corps is so great, it seems almost ungrateful to knock it for all being over too quickly. But... well, within a couple of afternoons I'd completed all the missions, rescued all the scientists and returned safely from the moon. And that's me -- normally a bit crap at anything but Mario Kart. All that left to do was to go back and try to get a complete set of gold medals - something that I'm now doing, but rather half-heartedly. Despite Nintendo's best efforts to flesh it out, Blast Corps is something of a one-week wonder, with no multi-player facility and not the same incentive to rack up world-beating times as Mario Kart.
That's perhaps one reason why Nintendo have taken the unusual step of selling Blast Corps for 6,800 (about 35) in Japan, compared with the usual 8,800-9,800 (45-50). At that price it's an absolute must-have. At the $60 Nintendo of America are asking, it doesn't take much thinking about either. If you're considering buying Blast Corps from an importer, though, with all the overheads that entails, you're going to have to give it a bit more thought. And it remains to be seen what price tag THE will write when they release it in the UK later this summer.
Lifespan aside, Blast Corps ranks as easily one of the best N64 games so far. It encapsulates everything the N64 is supposed to be about: unprecedented graphics and sound, millions of secret bits and things to find, ceaseless inventiveness, and, most importantly, a style of playing that's simply never been seen before. Truly, Rare are great, and Nintendo's faith in them has again been rewarded.
Unusual game that defies categorisation - it's a sort of racer-puzzle-ad venture thing. Entertaining but not that long-lasting.
Undoubtedly one of the most idiosyncratically original games on the N64. and one you're almost certain to enjoy.