Blaster Master Zero Review – Switch
Rating 5

Blaster Master Zero as a modern game feels aged – its simplicity is simultaneously charming yet un-inspiring

Summary 5.0 Mediocre
Rating 0
Summary rating from user's marks. You can set own marks for this article - just click on stars above and press "Accept".
Accept
Summary 0.0 Broken

Blaster Master Zero Review – Switch

It is no secret that the selection of software on offer at the launch of the Nintendo Switch this month was in short supply. Was it any smaller amount than a typical console release? Not really, but after the faltering of the Wii U, people are looking to Nintendo to make another commercial misstep, jumping on every issue they can to make a drama. For some, a staggeringly well reviewed Zelda title, or the unofficial spiritual successor to F Zero aren’t enough to make it through the first week of the Switch’s release. Today we see the launch of the next selection of titles for the system on the eStore – among them is Blaster Master Zero.

Blaster Master Zero is not a prequel as the title might suggest; instead it is a modern re-imagining of the NES classic Blaster Master, updated to provide a nostalgic pick-up and play experience extremely familiar to those accustomed to the original.

In many ways, Blaster Master Zero looks like what I imagine a SNES remake of the original title would look like – Sunsoft have kept a far more ostensibly retro aesthetic to Zero, a welcome respite from the dorky but functional 2.5d of the WiiWare Blaster Master: Overdrive.

Many of the original level’s areas are recreated here in exact layout, with extra secrets, save points, obstacles and stylistic changes added. Area 2 for example, was a castle environment in the 1991 (UK) release of Blaster Master, but has been reskinned to look like a futuristic botanical dome that would supposedly serve as residential quarters for the local denizens. This change is evidently due to an updated storyline that looks to position the bizarre story of the original in a slightly more grounded science fiction plot. Much like the original you play the part of Jason, who chases his pet frog (one of a kind, I hasten to add) through an inter-dimensional portal, and ends up stranded in the labrynthian underground  remains of some otherworldly civilisation. On the upside, he finds SOPHIA III, a powerful all terrain battle tank that he just so happens to know how to pilot. With his new found ally, he sets out to find Frank the frog.

Gameplay is simple and intuitive, with two key modes. In the first you control the aforementioned tank in a 2D platforming format, in which you must navigate the areas within the game, dispatching enemies and moving past obstacles. The second is when you depart from the tank and go on foot, taking a top down pseudo-isometric shooter format. Over the course of your adventure, you will find both permanent power-ups that allow you to progress, akin to the gameplay of the ‘metroidvania’ sub-genre, as well as temporary power-ups to your offensive capabilities. These weapon power-ups are downgraded every time you take damage, which means the rewarding feeling of navigating a particularly tricky segment perfectly is amplified. So far, so Blaster Master. In order to spice things up, new obstacles such as conveyor belts and timed gates that need to be activated have been added to the original levels. This helps to provide something fresh for returning fans of the series.

The visual overhaul has not lessened the games simplistic and retro sensibilities. The iconic vehicle and musical cues are still here. Story line and user interface have been fleshed out in a way that enriches the original, with text based dialogue and some supporting characters helping the former, whilst an inventory system improves the latter. This isn’t quite the retro soul searching of the latest Megman games though. Instead of emulating the NES software restriction with finer polish, the whole affair feels spruced up with sprites and colours the old Nintendo hardware wouldn’t have been able to push. As I said previously, this overhaul is more in line with SNES system capabilities if anything.

Overall level of difficulty isn’t quite that of the original NES title, with saving checkpoints and an objective sensor making the experience far friendlier than your traditional retro title. I feel that these modern conveniences serve to improve the experience, and help it as a “pick up and play” title that could shine on a hybrid system like the Switch. The additional co-op mode further reduces the difficult level to a cake-walk. Ultimately, the multiplayer is a disappointing affair, with the second player simply joining as a floating incorporeal cross-hair capable of firing lasers at enemies and dropping health packs and special ammo on occasion. The lack of a real multiplayer mode is a real shame considering the Switch comes ready with two pads.

Blaster Master Zero as a modern game feels aged – its simplicity is simultaneously charming yet un-inspiring. It all provides a short, retro-inspired romp that will resonate with those familiar with the original premise and other similar titles from that era of gaming. For those of us like myself who are not clouded by nostalgia due to playing the original years later on an emulator, Blaster Master Zero doesn’t offer enough to warrant its existence. This really isn’t the retro-revival pick-me-up of a game like Shovel Knight; and although highly playable, Blaster Master Zero offers nothing new or unique. At £8.99 it provides a cheap enough title to pick up and play on the move, and to fill time between more accomplished Switch exclusives, but it ultimately it isn’t going to blow your mind.

5/10

Related posts

Paper Sorcerer Review – PC

Paper Sorcerer Review - PC

Those of you who have read my articles will know that I love roleplaying games. Specifically Western RPGs. This is because I love playing Dungeons and Dragons and I love anything that can put me in the high fantasy with numbers and dice rolling mind set. I also have a nostalgic love affair with...

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Review – Xbox One

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Review - Xbox One

Metal Gear Solid series is well known for a few things, overly drawn out cutscenes, beautiful graphics, confusingly convoluted story lines and great stealth action! The first thing you need to know about Ground Zeroes, if you don’t already know is that the game is literally an extended demo for...

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director’s Cut – Review (PC)

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut - Review (PC)

  On its initial release, Deus Ex: Human Revolution was a wonderful experience, marred only by a few minor drawbacks that managed to dampen my overall enthusiasm for the game. Yet despite these recognised flaws, it was still a huge critical success. It scored solid reviews across the...

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Review

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Review

I just fucking love Smash Bros.

80 Days Review – iOS

80 Days Review - iOS

  80 Days is an adventure gamebook made by Inkle for mobile devices. The game mainly consists of choosing options in the text to create your own story, and travelling to various cities around the world as you wish. 80 Days, as the name suggests, is about travelling around the...

Torment: Tides of Numenera Review – PC

Torment: Tides of Numenera Review - PC

A philosophical role playing game in which the tired and out-dated moral alignment systems of western RPGs have been replaced with a more nuanced approach; it brandishes a beautifully realised game-world full of intricate details and exquisite oddities

Doctor Strange Review

Doctor Strange Review

Doctor Strange will go down as one of the best examples of a safe Marvel movie, it takes no risks in the plot or characterisation, but the execution has been pulled off so well that it is still an extremely enjoyable movie worthy of any superhero fans time.

Scourge Outbreak – Review (360)

Scourge Outbreak - Review (360)

Scourge: Outbreak is an indie game with dreams of delivering a AAA third person shooter experience. Does it deliver? It is the 21st century. Every kind of game it is possible to make has already been made, and a developer's only choice is to retread old ground. Arkane Studios creates...

Monument Valley Review – iOS

Monument Valley Review - iOS

Monument Valley is a beautifully made puzzle game from Ustwogames for mobile devices. Having newly acquired an iPad Air, and heading off for an eight hour journey to a remote Scottish island, I needed something that would pass the time. Review by Alice '@ThatCrazyBat' Bignell You...

Leave a Reply