Developer: Inti Creates
Publisher: Inti Creates
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Action & Adventure
Release Date: 9th of March, 2017
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In the month of June, in the year was 1988, together developers Tokai Engineering and publisher Sunsoft released a game called Metafight for Japan, before a few months later, the game would come to North America, but it would not be the same game.
Metafight was rebranded as Blaster Master and featured a different protagonist and a new plot, which did in fact win fans over despite its difficulty. In face fans enjoyed the game so much, the game soon became a series that had two sequels and two spin-offs but then tragedy struck. The Blaster Master series ended abruptly, only that is no longer the case. Thanks to Inti Creates, the series is set to continue as the newest instalment/remake of the original title has come to play on both the Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo 3DS and I get to review it!
In a lot of ways, Blaster Master Zero is still very much the original game fans knew and loved. It still has the search for Fred. It still has SOPHIA III only SOPHIA runs a lot better this time around as she has been on the receiving end of some improvements and it still has that retro vibe a lot of us have been missing, but not as much in recent years thanks to the likes of Shovel Knight. But whilst being a lot like the original, it is also very much so an all new experience and one Switch and 3DS owners should considering trying out for themselves.
Due to a high difficulty and a lack of save spots, it was easy to get a little infuriated with it, but that is not the case this time round. Blaster Master Zero still retains some difficulty, but thanks to save spots and actually being able to pause the game and save, dying is no longer the hassle it used to be and that’s not the only difference. When playing on the Nintendo Switch, should the mutants prove too much for you, you can play with a friend to offer assistance. (Wait what?) Yes that’s right, Blaster Master Zero features multiplayer co-op, which means both you and someone else sitting in the same room as you, or even a random stranger on the bus or in the park, can tackle the game together and see how you fair working as a team, whilst each using a single Joy-Con controller that does make some use of the HD Rumble to play with. And even then that’s not the only thing that’s changed.
Instead of just improving the 8-bit graphics to look more stunning and colourful than ever before (so much so it puts 16-bit graphics to shame,) Inti Creates pulled out all of the stops. New bosses have been added, new areas are ready and waiting to be explored but there’s also highly improved gameplay for a smoother experience, which is most notable when Jason leaves SOPHIA to explore a “dungeon.” Heck there’s even new gameplay mechanics thanks to the introduction of sub-weapons, as well as refined and expanded exploration mechanics.
At this point, diehard fans might be feeling a little conflicted. You want to feel overjoyed because of all the new improvements, but at the same time, you’re worried how all of those improvements and add-ons have affected the game, well worry not. As I said before, Blaster Master Zero is still very much so the original game we knew it to be. The story is as tight as ever and Zero will give you the same satisfaction the original gave players back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, but all of this is well and good, but not everyone played a title from the Blaster Master series, or even heard of it, so for those of you who are clueless when it comes to Blaster Master, allow me to clue you in. (On Blaster Master Zero anyway.)
Blaster Master Zero is a tasteful 8-bit adventure that takes place on a planet Earth that has seen so much conflict at the hands of humanity that an ice age caused the human race to head underground as a means of survival. Hundreds of years later though, the surface world became hospitable once again and humanity was allowed to abandon the subterranean world that gave them a human and pick off where they left off. One such human living on the surface world is protagonist Jason Frudnik. Frudnik is a scientist, so when he discovers a fr0g-like creature he’s never encountered before, it’s only natural he’d catch it and take it back with him, only to then name it Fred and pursue the frog when it escapes one day. An escape that sees the Fred disappear down a mysterious hole, except when Frudnik follows, it’s Fred he sees, but part of the ancient underworld that is still intact and the armoured tank (Sophia III), which he would then claim as his own in his search for Fred.
From that moment on, the story is over and it’s time to play, which is done in two ways. The first being a side-on platformer like experience as the player controls Jason, who controls SOPHIA, as he explores the mysterious world, shooting any monsters and mutants in his path, never to leave the confines of safety, unless there is a dungeon that requires on foot exploration. When such an entrance to a dungeon has been reached, it is time to vacate SOPHIA (which is something that can be done at any time) and gameplay suddenly changes. Side-on suddenly becomes top-down, as Frudnik ventures through mutant packed dungeons in the hopes of encountering a boss/sub-boss and earn a prosperous prize that will go a long way in helping advance through the game.
While both forms of play may prove a little tedious at times, they do give more to the game than they take away and is one of the reasons why this game works so well and while you do not need to be a lover of retro to enjoy the game, it certainly does help (not that it needs it.) But if you like Shovel Knight, than there is a very good likelihood that you will enjoy Blaster Master Zero. They may not share a genre, or a theme, or even on the same level and style of gameplay, but they both extremely formidable and everything we want 8-bit games of their calibre to be.
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So because this review is getting on, I’m going to try and keep this short, because sometimes that’s just the best way to do things, so here goes. In a lot of ways, Blaster Master Zero is the game we always wanted Blaster Master to be. It is better, you can take it anywhere thanks to being available on 3DS and Switch, and it is just a great indie title for you to add to your ever growing indie game collection, so obviously I’m going to score it nothing less than an 8/10, but I will say this: If you own both a Nintendo Switch and a 3DS and have get to get this title, get it on the Switch. Sure a 3DS is arguably easier to carry around with you, but for the better experience, Switch is the way to go, especially when it enables you to put it on your big screen TV and turn up the volume so that you can properly enjoy the delectable sweet soundtrack as you blast some mutants. That’s my advice anyway, whether you choice to adhere to it, is down to you. (Nope, couldn’t keep it short, never mind, but because my lips are flapping once again, I may as well say one last thing and it is this, Blaster Master Zero is simply an easily affordable indie must for Nintendo Switch!)
THE VERDICT: 8/10