By Jose Vega
Joes Vega is a contributing writer to The SwitchCast. To see more of his work, visit his site, Destiny Blog.
During the era of the NES, a game called Blaster Master was released by Sunsoft. It was a fun game that got a lot of praise but sadly not a lot of love. It was overlooked but it did have a legacy that lasted almost 20 years, spawning a sequel, spin-offs, and a re-imagining.
In November 2016, Inti Creates announced that they planned to try their luck on the franchise with a retro 8-bit remake called Blaster Master Zero. The guys at Inti know how to deliver good titles such as Azure Striker Gunvolt as well as the Mega Man Zero & ZX series but could they pull it off with this? The answer is simple. Yes.Blaster Master Zero is an 8-bit remake of the original and since it is, the plot is similar. The story is set on Earth, centuries after humanity restored the planet after it plunged into an ice age due to endless wars. It focuses on a scientist named Jason Frudnik who finds a frog-like creature he calls Fred. One day, Fred escapes and heads to a strange hole. Jason gives chase only to end up inside and discovers a weaponized tank called Sophia III. Seeing that the underworld is still around, Jason uses Sophia III to explore in the hopes of finding Fred and blasting anything that gets in his way.
It’s straightforward but unlike the NES version, it includes stuff that was in the original Japanese incarnation, Metafight. I like how it ties the two together, despite it being a reboot. But in a way, I find it enjoyable seeing how Inti Creates pays tribute to the franchise as a whole.
Being that it’s a reboot, Blaster Master Zero’s gameplay is similar to the original NES game. Piloting Sophia III, you explore 9 different areas while battling enemies and acquiring upgrades for your the tank. Sophia III can shoot in six directions, jump really high and has multiple tools to contend with any situation.
I should mention that this is a Metroidvania-style game, hence there’s exploration. But you aren’t limited to just riding Sophia III. Many of the areas contain small caves for Jason to explore on foot. The game then shifts to an overhead view where you explore said caves, shoot down monsters and find items. Your gun has a total of 8 different attack types and each works especially well in specific situations. For example, there’s a spread shot that’s great for taking down swarms of enemies, and a pierce shot that can cut right through obstacles to hit a target on the other side. Boss fights are there too and strategy is important because just shooting may not be enough.
As far as length goes, the game will take you roughly 5-6 hours if you are going for 100% completion. If you are playing the game on the Nintendo Switch, the game also has co-op multiplayer where a friend can control a crosshair on the screen and shoot down enemies as your co-pilot, similar to Super Mario Galaxy’s 2-player mode. A welcome feature indeed, but sadly it isn’t on the 3DS version. Regardless, the game is still enjoyable.
Unlike the NES version, this one actually has save points and checkpoints. The checkpoint system is superb and in case you go down, you can continue where you left off either at a save point or in a cave entrance. Amazing. A sigh of relief for people that felt the original was too hard. Presentation-wise, the game is amazing. Inti Creates did a great job re-imagining the original Blaster Master and making it better. It’s vibrant and lively, not to mention colorful. The music is amazing with some really addicting tunes and they also help add more to each area. Controls are spot on and precise. Perfect would be too appropriate of a word to say how good they are. With a recent update, the game also supports the Switch Pro Controller so to anyone that has this you have another option to play the game. Blaster Master Zero has a fair amount of challenge. It isn’t too hard or too easy but if you know your way around, the game isn’t difficult.
If I were to find any negatives, it’s that some levels have way too many hazards, forcing you to either find a way around or go for what’s obvious. It can get difficult especially with enemies firing at you and one mistake can lead you to an unexpected death. It would be nice if the game wouldn’t have sections that require you to improvise but since it’s a reboot, I only wish it can be alleviated. But honestly the game is that good, I see it as a minor negative at best.
Blaster Master Zero is a game that brings new life to a franchise that has a lasting legacy. Sharp controls, great music, amazing presentation and the addition of co-op on the Switch version adds a lot to an otherwise impressive game. What’s even better is that the game is worth $10. For $10, you are getting a game that offers so much and more. If you haven’t played the original NES game or any of the others, this is a perfect start for you. Bottom line, Blaster Master Zero is worth your money. I guarantee it.
I give Blaster Master Zero a PERFECT 10 out of 10. It also earns my personal Seal of Approval. Get this game now on the Switch or 3DS.