I’ve been playing Inti Creates games for a long time now. And one thing I can confidently say about them is they know how classic games felt. Blaster Master was a game that I never played. Or at least if I did, I'm sure I would have disliked it because I had terrible taste as kid. But as an adult, I see the why this game is beloved and why it needed re-imagining. This entire review is coming from a pseudo-layman as I know borderline nothing of the original.
The story is very simple in the you play Jason, a robotics specialist who happens on a frog that he names Fred. Due to this frog not having been known to the humans in the distant future, Jason grows very interested in Fred. One day Fred escapes and jumps into a mysterious hole, Jason follows only because of pure curiosity. As he gains his footing, he notices a very large tank that seems to be welcoming him to hop in, Jason does and starts off on his adventure. What I love about this is it sounds like the plot to an old 5 cent comic sci-fi serial. The dialog throughout the game isn't any different and I loved that about it. Everything in terms of story and writing knows exactly what this game is and that's charming as hell.
The gameplay is standard metroidvania fare but with a fun caveat. In Metroid and Castlevania, there usually aren't 2 entirely different games. On one hand you have the 2D side-scroller style gameplay with the exploration of a Metroid game but with an up-gradable tank. And on the other hand you have the isometric sections when you enter doors. These sections could be best described as “Mega Man meets Zelda” or easier Binding of Isaac. These are the locations you will find most bosses and almost every upgrade. However there are moments when you must exit the tank and be just Jason in the over world and that is both fun and terrifying. Every section of this game was exciting and refreshing.
The Tank controls a little floaty at times but is still very fun to drive around. There are moments through the game where I would need to land on a very small platform and it was harder than it needed to be or i would die. Jason is very stiff in his isometric sections but I feel that was intentional to make him feel more vulnerable. The way the game allows Jason to collect power-ups but will take them away when getting hit is very cool but very frustrating. One thing that makes up for all the frustration is the stellar music. I'm a sucker for 8-bit jams and this game delivers, I do wish there was more in the variety department though.
A few nitpicks I do have is as I said before, the tank can get a little floaty at times and that isn't fun when trying to do something precise. Maybe that was the intent as I have heard from a few friends who’ve played the original, the tank moves very similarly. Another nitpick is most of the game gives a clear sense of direction but for a few parts, I was as lost as a kid without his mommy in Walmart during holiday season. One last thing that was brought to my attention, a good friend of mine and a friend of MSP, CritsKrieger aka William, Had pointed out on twitter a game breaking bug in which early on there is a platform you can park the tank and drop down to enter a door. If you do this, the tank will stay put and there is no way to reach it. I can confirm this as i have replicated it. The only way to fix it is to start a new game, which thankfully isn't too bad as it's the second door you enter. Maybe they can patch it later but avoid this mistake if you haven't played the game yet.
Overall the game is incredibly fun and I was addicted to beating it. It certainly has it’s moments of intense difficulty but nothing i couldn't overcome. This is probably my favorite Inti Creates game they’ve released thus far. You can pick up a copy digitally on the 3DS or newly released Nintendo Switch. With beautiful visuals, great level design and challenging gameplay, I give Blaster Master Zero and solid 9 out of 10.
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