Blaster Master is a platforming run and gun game, and it is the first in the series that includes two sequels and also two spin offs.
The story is somewhat different between the Japanese and American versions. In the first, the main character is Kane Gardner who leads the attack against the emperor Goez in order to liberate his home planet. In the US version, the hero (simply known as Jason) jumps down a hole in search of his pet frog that had just been exposed to radioactive chemicals and grown to an enormous size. Down the hole Jason finds a battle tank called SOPHIA the third, which he uses in his search.
The Blaster Master features an interesting mix of gameplay. Most of the game is played in a side scrolling fashion, in control the battle tank and destroying enemies as you encounter them. This part also includes all of the platforming and secret areas. The second part comes when you leave the tank in order to access smaller areas, too small for the machine to fit. Here the game switches to a top-down, closer up view of the character and eliminates jumping on platforms in favour of maze like rooms. This is also where all of the boss fights take place, and upon their defeat, you receive an upgrade for the tank. The upgrade is used to access new areas and continue the game.
On the left side of the screen there are two power meters which have different purposes, depending on whether you are inside the tank or not. While mounted, the meters display the life of the tank and the amount of hover power it has left. While outside, the meters display the hero’s remaining life and gun power, the latter decreasing if you are hit. In both situations, these can be refilled by collecting power ups dropped by enemies.
The design of Blaster Master is quite varied, as each level has its own unique visuals and fitting music, but there is quite some backtracking to be done, and this is not obvious in the beginning. Up to the third level, everything seems to resolve in a linear fashion, but new players will have a tough time realizing that they have to go all the way back to the beginning and search for another way.
Still, Blaster Master offers a nice challenge and combination of gameplay elements to keep you occupied for quite some time.
Blaster Master features:
- Dual gameplay mix; platforming while inside the tank and top-down run and gun while outside
- Maze like levels and puzzle solving
- Continuous upgrade of the tank for a change of pace
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