Thursday, January 25, 2018

Blaster Master Zero (NS) Review

Blaster Master, one of the classic games on the NES.  I remember it for its two distinct styles, having both side-scrolling and isometric views, plus the old pause trick.  I'm sure more people remember that from Mega Man 2, though.  Anyway, I remember not being very good at the game, and seeing people go through the game years later, it could easily benefit from a remake.  Inti creates brings us that remake, with some very good additions.

After one of the nice new story scenes, the game starts in a side-scrolling section, where Jason is piloting the Sophia vehicle.  You can roll around, jump, and shoot in 5 directions.  The R Button helps lock you in to shooting diagonal or upward while moving side to side, and is a very helpful function to get down.  As you go through the maps, there are several upgrades you get, giving you different charge shots, sub-weapons, and even letting you climb on walls.  The Switch's d-pad buttons make controlling the action feel good.  My only real complaint with movement is that the car has some momentum to it.  This can make it hard to precisely jump and land on platforms, which you do need to do at times.  I did eventually get used to it, but it's not something I like in games.

Jason can and has to jump out of the vehicle at various times to progress.  While doing so, you can enter one of several dungeon areas, where the game switches to an old-school Zelda-like isometric view.  I prefer the analog stick for these sections, since it was easier to hit the diagonals with them.  The R Button is used to strafe, and it might even be more useful here than the side-scrolling sections.  Jason's blaster can also power-up by collecting the right item, but powers down when taking damage.  It's a very old-school concept that I'm not too fond of.  However, once I figured out that I could change shots, and how to do so, I saw the ridiculous power it holds.  The final shot is amazing.  The ones leading up to it are less so, but one or two of them have solid uses.  Many of the dungeon segments (and boss fights) were a lot easier with the final blaster shot, as long as I could hold on to it.

I got the normal ending and credits at just under 6 hours.  I then went back, grabbed the two or three things I missed, and got the true ending 3 hours later.  It would have been shorter, but I really don't like that last area.  After getting the true ending, you unlock two more modes.  Shortly after release, there were additional DLC characters that were free, but now are paid extras.  As free additions, they can be fun to mess around with.  Personally, I didn't feel like playing the whole game over after completion, but will likely use the DLC characters after some time has passed.

The difficulty of the game felt right.  There were parts and boss fights that were hard, but they didn't feel too hard.  The game does get noticeably easier once you have (and use) the highest level of Jason's blaster.  It's a nice reward for going (mostly) unscathed.  It was really easy to get hit, both in and out of Sophia, and I'd personally like a tad more invincibility time after taking damage.  It was a little too short for my tastes.

Overall, Blaster Master Zero is superior to the original.  Adding save points was a huge plus, and giving directions in some of the more questionable decisions (after area 3, go all the way back to the beginning for area 4...what?) makes a huge difference.  I always wanted to like the original more than I did, and Blaster Master Zero proved that there was a good game hiding inside.  It also proved that remaking the right game in the right way can make it a fun experience.

The Good:
Great update/remake of the original.

The Bad:
Sophia momentum took getting used to, easy to get hit at times.  Oh, and slippery ice areas are never fun.

The SaHD:
Having to have your transponder on for the final area is a strange requirement.

(Blaster Master Zero was purchased from the E-shop on sale)

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