Blaster Master

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North American box art.

Blaster Master is an action-adventure game developed by Tokai Engineering and published by Sunsoft for the NES in 1988-06-17. In the game, the player pilots a tank-like vehicle that can be upgraded with various power-ups like homing missiles, a hover drive, and the ability to drive along the walls.

The Japanese version has a military science-fiction theme where the prosperous planet Sophia the 3rd is attacked by a barbaric race who wiped out the inhabitants leaving only an overlooked science outpost. The outpost builds a fighting machine called the "Metal Attacker" piloted by Kane Gardner who uses it to fight the evil tyrant Goez, and his minions. In the American version, the pet frog of a boy named Jason escapes his terrarium and jumps on a radioactive box causing it to mutate into a large monster which sinks into the ground. Jason chases after his frog and finds an underground abandoned tank named Sophia the 3rd, along with a suit of armor that fits him perfectly. He dons the suit in search of his lost mutant frog. Just slightly different!

Even before I played the game Blaster Master, I read the pre-teen Worlds of Power novelization loosely based on the game. As a child around 10 years old, I thought the book was pretty good, but as an adult, there's not much to like. It was more than enough to get me interested in the game, and a friend of mine from school had it, and I played it at his house. I enjoyed the game, but didn't get very far. Later, I remember playing it again at home with my brother and getting much further (maybe to area 3?). Using cheats I have seen the entire game, but, having seen how difficult it is, I have little desire to try and beat it properly.

Status

I own Blaster Master, but I have not beaten it.

Review

  • Overall: 5/10
  • Best Version: NES.

Good

  • Yoshiaki Iwata created unbelievable background art, some of the best on the entire platform. Each stage has a unique feel and his art has a great sense of separation between foreground and background, and employs a wonderful illusion of depth and perspective.
  • Naoki Kodaka created a really great soundtrack for this game. The songs complement the game greatly, but several tracks standout well by themselves.
  • The idea of hopping in and out of your tank to go into rooms is a nice mechanic. I like how there are certain parts in the side-view areas where you're forced to navigate enemies without your tank.
  • The various power-ups that you get throughout the game are pretty cool.
  • The large bosses are great looking and make for interesting battles.
  • The American intro is well-drawn and utterly ridiculous (in a good way). The Japanese title screen is quite nice as well.
  • The tank-in-the-tunnel game start animation is really great. And the ending is quite satisfying.

Bad

  • The gun system for the indoor game portion is wretched. I like the idea of powering up your weapon and losing power as you take hits, but several of the gun upgrades are very erratic and hard to aim. A similar mechanic was used in Fester's Quest, and it's just as awful there too.
  • For a game this long, and with levels so winding, a save slot, password system, or, at the very least, unlimited continues should have been made available rather than permadeath.
  • I don't like how monsters stop moving the moment they leave the screen, and begin moving again when to move toward them again.
  • It becomes very difficult to control Sophia when you get the walking on walls and ceiling power-ups.
  • A large amount of the same monsters are used throughout the entire game.
  • Having infinite grenades is a bit unusual. It seems like maybe they should have been a limited resource, but considering how unreliable the gun is, it's nice to have them.
  • By looking at some of the layouts of the indoor sections, it kind of seems like the designers originally intended for the player to be able to jump, and then removed the ability without adjusting fixing all the levels. There are rooms where it's impossible to progress without taking spike damage, and occasionally power-ups are completely unreachable.
  • Because the player's hit box is so large, it's difficult to maneuver between spikes in the indoor sections.
  • It probably would have been better design to space out the tank weapons upgrades rather than making them the first two upgrades.

Ugly

  • In the later levels, the game becomes insanely difficult.

Media

Box Art

Documentation

Maps

Graphic Sheets

Fan Art

Videos

Titles

Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Blaster Master
Japanese 超惑星戦記メタファイト Cho Wakusei Senki: Metafight Super Planetary War Records: Metafight

Credits

Role Names
Directors Hiroaki Higashiya, Koichi Kitazumi
Manager Kiharu Yoshida
Game Designer, Character Designer Yoshiaki Iwata, and Others
Programmers Kenji Sada, Kenji Kajita
Music Composer Naoki Kodaka
Sound Programmer Naohisa Morota
European Director Akito Takeuchi
American Designer Richard Robbins
Special Thanks Kenji Mori

Links