Sunsoft’s Blaster Master for the NES is another somewhat underrated gem from the NES library. It’s also available on the Wii Virtual Console. There’s also a remake on WiiWare. Basically your goal in this game is to rescue your pet frog who disappears after becoming mutated. It’s a pretty simple story, but what it lacks in story it makes up with awesome music and gameplay.
And speaking of the gameplay, Blaster Master basically amounts to 3 play styles in one game. Your main style is controlling your vehicle (which is a cross between a car, tank, and a Harrier-like jet) in a standard side/vertical scrolling action/platform game manner. Sometimes you’ll need to exit the vehicle to enter small doors and reach otherwise inaccessible areas. In this mode you control the main character Jason and are much weaker and more likely to be killed very easily as you take extra damage. The third mode is related to the second in that when you enter a door as Jason it takes you to a new distinct part of the game. In these parts you’re playing as Jason in a sort of top-down action mode. You’re much larger and not as weak as you are in the normal mode. You can also get gun upgrades (which if I remember correctly don’t last between different sections), but they’ll disappear if you take any damage (one at a time). You also get grenades in this mode. The boss fights for the game take place in this mode as well, with them being much larger than Jason. There’s also a famous glitch for the game where if you throw a grenade and hit pause as it’s exploding, and then unpause a minute or so later, the boss should be dead. You can only do this on some of the bosses though, not all of them.
As I mentioned, the music in this game is awesome and the graphics are decent as well for the time. The game is just fun overall. It’s not unlike Metroid or post-Symphony of the Night Castlevania’s in that you have to do backtracking to progress. If you enjoy that type of game, you’ll enjoy Blaster Master. But like a lot of older games, there’s no passwords or save system here. So you either have to beat it one sitting or leave your NES on until you do. Despite these drawbacks, it’s still well worth checking out and worth the time invested. If you haven’t played it and you like these kinds of games, you need to play it. In fact, we’ll probably do a Let’s Play for it eventually.
Blaster Master did actually receive a few sequels/remakes, despite not selling well in Japan. Sunsoft originally didn’t want to make any sequel for it because of this. There was Blaster Master Jr. on Game Boy which is not a true Blaster Master game, but rather a sequel to a game called Robowarrior, but for some reason was lumped in with Blaster Master. A proper sequel was released for the Sega Genesis and takes place after the first game. A remake of the first game was released on Game Boy Color called Blaster Master: Enemy Below. It’s also on the 3DS Virtual Console. A 2nd sequel came out on PlayStation and it’s called Blaster Master: Blasting Again. And finally the remake on WiiWare we mentioned earlier is called Blaster Master: Overdrive.
Overall I would give Blaster Master for NES a score of 9 out of 10. I deducted 1 point for some of the “cheapness” in the game. For example if you’re exploring outside of the vehicle with Jason and you fall too far, you can die. I hate when games do this. I get that its realistic, but it just makes things needlessly difficult for no real reason. Another cheap thing is that you lose your gun upgrades when you get hit. Sure it ups the difficulty, but it also means you’re better off spending more time running from everything than trying to kill it once you’re fully upgraded. Why? Because in addition to that, enemies respawn if you move off the edge of the screen. But see, this is not like Zelda. They respawn on the same screen too, not just separate ones. That is cheap. And if I recall correctly, they don’t drop any loot when you kill them multiple times either, so once again, it’s pointless to try to kill them. But these things are relatively minor flaws. The game is still really fun and highly recommended. Grab your own copy of Blaster Master from Amazon by clicking our affiliate link here!
- Graphics – 8/10 – The graphics as I mentioned are pretty good for the time period. The vehicle is easily distinguishable amongst multiple enemies and the color scheme doesn’t interfere too much. Enemies could stand to have a wider color palette, but given that this the NES that kind of thing is expected.
- Sound/Music – 10/10 – Well if you like game music and you don’t like the intro to Blaster Master, then I don’t know what to tell you. It is just awesome and gets you pumped for the game. Several developers really got a lot out of the NES sound hardware and Sunsoft definitely did here. Capcom is another example of this.
- Fun Factor – 9/10 – Like I said, this game is just pure fun. Who doesn’t love blasting mutants to bits? You get to control a badass tank-like vehicle and save your pet, what more could you want? It’s challenging but not so much so to prevent you from finishing the game.
- Story – 4/10 – The story in this game is quite limited, but it’s not Final Fantasy 7, it’s an action game. Basically you just are out to stop the mutants and rescue your pet frog. That’s pretty much all there is to it.
- Challenge – 8/10 – As I mentioned Blaster Master can put forth a decent amount of challenge, especially if you’re not used to these kinds of games. If you’ve played any Metroid game, modern Castlevania games or anything else like those, you’ll feel right at home here. In fact, the vehicle parts are quite similar to the original Metroid only with a vehicle instead of a bounty hunter. There’s lots of hazards and traps and seemingly dead ends until you get the right equipment, like any good Metroidvania title.
- Replay Factor – 4/10 – As far as I know there’s no 2nd quest, no alternate endings, no multiplayer, no real reason to replay the game. It’s a fun game though and one I’ll occasionally play through just for kicks. The only thing you could do is to make your own achievements or challenges such as not using certain abilities, using Jason as much as possible when in the vehicle mode, never upgrading your gun, etc.
Overall (Average) – 7.167/10
Overall (Non-Average) – 9/10
Source: GameSaga Original