Game Review

Blaster Master: Overdrive Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

A blast from the past gets a makeover

Over the years, Sunsoft's NES Blaster Master release has become a favourite among fans of the console. Not only has it gone on to become a true cult classic for the system, it's also been called one of the most innovative gameplay experiences of the 8-bit era. Now Sunsoft is back and after having recently releasing the original Blaster Master on the Virtual Console, they've now given fans of the game something to really sink their teeth into with a brand new version of the game for the WiiWare service aptly titled Blaster Master: Overdrive. And in truth, they couldn't have chosen a better word to describe the game, as it's everything the original was and more.

Fans of the original Blaster Master will feel right at home from the start with this title. Not only is the core gameplay exactly the same, but Sunsoft even managed to toss in some very useful control tweaks to make the game even more playable. Now you can shoot diagonally in both S.O.P.H.I.A. mode and on foot in the overhead view. This makes not only taking standard enemies out much easier and more intuitive, but also gives you a bit of an edge when it comes to taking down some of the game's mammoth mutant bosses.

Your ultimate goal in Blaster Master: Overdrive is to locate the lairs of the boss mutants and destroy them. Beating a boss will win you a special upgrade kit for your assault vehicle that will allow you access to previously inaccessible areas of the game. So while there's a linear atmosphere to the flow of the game, there's still plenty of freedom in your exploration throughout .

Exploration on the outside world is mainly done inside your assault vehicle. Luckily it comes complete with the ability to jump as well as fire its cannon. As you add upgrades to your vehicle, you'll soon have access to various special powers like a grappling hook and even a hover ability. As you explore each area you'll come to caves that require you to disembark your vehicle and set out on foot in the overhead mode. It's here that you have a wide variety of weapons at your disposal, with everything from your standard cannon, which can be powered up, to grenades and homing missiles. Many caves have plenty of weapon and health upgrades to be found, but some turn out to be boss lairs so it's always a good idea to save as often as you can. The game even offers you a map of the entire area, useful for finding unexplored areas.

The game's basic controls are very intuitive and easy to use, and the decision to make the Wii Remote held NES-style the controller of choice makes coming to grips with these controls quite easy. Even cycling through the various weapons and assault vehicle abilities is easy to do on the fly. There is a slight pause when you press the jump button while inside the assault vehicle, but it's something you'll get used to after awhile. There's also a gradual increase in difficulty that keeps the game from becoming overwhelming too suddenly. And while the boss fights are absolutely amazing, they all feature distinct attack and movement patterns that requires you to figure them out in order to destroy them rather than toss you into a redundant button-mashing experience. As smooth as the play control was in the original, Sunsoft have managed to improve upon it with this WiiWare release, and with eight different areas to explore you're going to get your money's worth out of this one.

Blaster Master: Overdrive leaves behind the simple 8-bit visuals of the original in favour of a more flashy graphical presentation. Everything from the parallax-scrolling backdrops to the extremely detailed characters and enemies give the game a very refreshing modern coat of paint. There's also plenty of variety between the various areas to keep things fresh and interesting, but if there's one area of the game that truly shines, it's the gigantic bosses you'll have to square off against. Each one is absolutely gorgeous in terms of visual flash and their movements are as smooth as silk. It's nice to see this type of attention to detail in a WiiWare retro release.

Not to be outdone by the striking visuals, the game's soundtrack is equally impressive. The remixed Blaster Master tunes sound better than ever, and the sound effects shine as well. There's honestly not a bad track in the entire game and if you have a nice surround sound system, you'd better crank this one up because it has some amazing bass and some very impressive separation between speakers. Many WiiWare soundtracks tend to sound muffled and washed out at times due to compression, but there's not a hint of that in this fantastic audio package.


The unique blend of platforming and shooting, not to mention two different perspectives, give Blaster Master: Overdrive everything fans of the original game could possibly want. Toss in some amazing gameplay tweaks and give the game a smoother difficulty curve and what you have is easily one of the best WiiWare games on the service and a fitting update to one of the all-time NES classics. If you can appreciate a truly unique and engaging retro gaming experience, not to mention what is one of the best games available on WiiWare, look no further because you've just found it.

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User Comments (59)



BlueBandanaJake said:

I'm really loving this game, anyone with a thirst for some old school shooter/adventure gameplay would be so satisfied with this download. Great review!



Donatello said:

will be buying! But I'm about to begin Silent Hill: Shattered Memories first. And after I'm done with that i'll be giving Hotel Dusk a go. Mega Man 10(oh hell yes!) after that and 'then' this ....Still need to get LostWinds 2



Rerun said:

Great review! I finished the first one back in the NES. It took me and my friends the whole day to beat it. I'll be getting this and scheduling a get together with my old buddies. Now if we only got games this good on the DSiWare . . .



Dazza said:

I'm glad that Sunsoft didn't stray too far from the original formula that made Blaster Master one of the most fondly remembered games on the NES. This seems like the perfect tribute. I can't wait to pick it up when it hits Europe.

Great review as always Corbie



Darkmire said:

I downloaded the original on Monday, which I hadn't played before. It's really good. I can't believe I missed a gem like this, and after I beat it, I'm definitely getting Overdrive.



Jockolantern said:

I just completed this game less than half and hour ago and can definitely say that Corbie is right on the money when he calls this one of the best gaming experiences on WiiWare. Truly an outstanding gem of a game and one hell of a great re-imagining of the NES classic. Rock-solid gameplay, slick visual aesthetic, solid remixes of the original Nintendo game tunes, and a fine challenge for any hardcore gamer. Sunsoft certainly has not forgotten how to make a tough game after all these years; the latter half of this game is downright brutal in parts. You'll also get a big amount of bang for your ten bucks out of this game; took me just under thirteen hours to complete it, so it is certainly money very well spent content-wise.

Can't recommend this one highly enough, folks. Absolutely one of my favorite games on WiiWare to date.



odd69 said:

I just downloaded it the crab boss killed me LOL. Thats cool though my weapons are level five, he wont get me so easily next time!!! This game is nice and i agree its one of the best on wiiware. This and Castlevania Rebirth is the best titles ive played in a long time.



Sean_Aaron said:

Wow, sounds brilliant. I've hardly scratched the surface on the NES version, but I'm definitely looking forward to this. Yay Sunsoft!



skyerunner23 said:

I didn't give the first one enough credit but this is an amazing game. There is no way anyone should pass this gem up. By the way great review Corbie



primeris said:

Yay! Buying! I would have bought it if it had only earned a 6. I was not expecting 9!! I've only beaten the original once without savestates ('cause I had the NES Advantage slow-mo to help). Blaster Master is one of those cruel temptresses that kick your ass and have you crawling back for more. Thanks for the review, Corbie!



Jiisuki said:

Guess I have to try this one out before I comment to much, but I was not impressed with the music from the trailer. It just felt very thin in comparison to the original. Less punchy, perhaps. It's like exchanging a punch in the face to a poke in the leg, or something But I hope it sounds better on my sound system than on a youtube-video, but I'm skeptical..



Objection said:

Nice review; the game looks and sounds amazing. I hope it does well and this inspires Sunsoft to continue making new games.



the_shpydar said:

Great game, and perfect review, Corb. I'm loving this one. I've already had a great/horrible retro-gameplay moment, where i died stupidly shortly after killing a boss and right after passing by a save point and thinking "ahh, i'll save at the next spot i find".



Rapadash6 said:

Pretty good review, if not a little to high. Don't get me wrong I'm loving this game so far but it definately lacks polish. Here's my pros and cons:

-Seems fairly deep for a WiiWare title.
-Tweaks to the original gameplay mechanics are all for the better.
-The graphics and sound are all great and seem right out of the 32 bit era.
-Map and save systems make the game much more accessable than the original.
-Navigation seems much more intuative.

-Presentation is lacking; no progressive scan and the forced 4:3 seems more squished than it should be and can't be adjusted like in the Konami ReBirth titles.
-Lack of customizable controls; menu buttons seem reversed of what they should be, strafing (a requirement in later portions of the game) is mapped, moronically, to the B trigger. (Tip: Use the Wii Wheel if you have one as it makes hitting the B trigger MUCH more intuative.)
-Diagonal aiming in the tank is difficult because there is no way to stop the vehicle from moving while shooting in those directions.

Overall those complaints don't get in the way too much of what is an otherwise awesome retro styled experience. I'd probably wouldn't give this game any higher than 8 stars out of 10 myself, but that's still a good game, especially for only $10.



brandonbwii said:

Is it mostly new elements like a sequel with new bosses and original stages? In other words, is it more Mega Man 9 than ExciteBike: World Rally? Is there enough reason to get this even if you own the original NES version? (There wasn't much reason to get ExciteBike a second time)



Rapadash6 said:

Blaster Master Overdrive to Blaster Master is basically what Metroid Zero Mission was to Metroid. That's the best way I can describe it really. Not a sequel, not a direct remake... I suppose it's one of those "re-imagining" things you hear a lot about these days.



foxtwin said:

If you like/have the original, yes, there IS enough reason to get this. While I agree with the review, I do have a couple complaints.

One is that save/check points are few and far between.

You can hold a diagonal shot without moving the vehicle or the man if you hold B--but to me that his cumbersome and wish they had Classic Controller support and have the diagonal shots control like Super Metroid.

The graphics are cool, but there's not enough variety within the level like the original had.

Finally, I do not think the music is as good as it could have been. I enjoy hearing the old tunes remixed here, but I think the choice of sounds wasn't that great--the original soundtrack is better.

In the end, it's still a great thing that this game exists and that it is still fun to play. And by the way, it's only $10!



Roebuck said:

I got it on Monday. I never played the one for the NES but this is great!! It makes me want to try out the original (once I beat Overdrive that is).



nice_shirt said:

Wow, I cant believe it turned out that good! I still have very fond memories of the first game and the video and screen shots of Overdrive weren't doing it for me but this review has changed my mind. Thanks!



Noire said:

If you can appreciate a truly unique and engaging retro gaming experience, not to mention what is one of the best games available on WiiWare, look no further because you've just found it.

Great, add another game I want to the wishlist. This sounds pretty sweet and right up my alley. Now I just need to swipe that ten bucks.



Aronos said:

Ok, after playing this for a couple of days I'll post my impressions and a quick rundown of things I've noticed.

Graphics are nice and a welcome upgrade from it's NES brother.
The music/SFX are really nice and catchy. Though some enemy deaths could be better, or even when you die.
The controls, (Which are NES styled) are spot on and very responsive. Quick rapid firing, and everything matches up nicely. There are some slow times during SOPHIA's control, but I think that's just cause your supposed to be driving a tank so it feels realistic. (Which is a plus)
Save Feature! (Finally lol)
A Map. It looks and acts like a castlevania or Metroid type map, so that's all I really have to say.
Difficulty is right where it's supposed to be. It seems like it's a little easier than the NES one, what with the map, save feature, and HP up's, but I have died numerous times on bosses and from taking to many hits which actually drains your health very fast.
Boss fights are just as cool as before and just as hard in some cases.

Overhead view is not as exciting and kind of plain. I remember the NES one had destoyable blocks, traps, and other hazards that made going into them kind of a chance at what you'll find. However, in this one the levels are very open, plain, and semi-repetitive. Now you should go in all of the caves, because they will give you some type of power up no matter what, and all they consist of are shooting enemies that die easily if powered up and not much else.

Controls for swiming with Alex are really wierd and tend to be overly complicated. I understand that they are really similar to how they are in the NES version, but they could of just made it easier with the jump button or something idk.
Bonus Features? Now, first of all, I haven't beaten the game yet, so idk if there's any bonus stuff/unlockables. However, I think there should be something. Concept art, hard modes, or even a boss rush.

(Grade not precise, but somewhere around that which is given.)

Graphics: A-
Music/Sounds: B
Gameplay: A
Lasting Appeal: B
Originality: A
Accessability/Learning Curve: B+

If your'e one of the lucky few who played the original, or even if you haven't and love platformers, action games, games similar to metroid, or if you want to try something orginal or a sweet hybrid, then I suggest you maybe pick this one up.
It retains everything good about the NES version, but with new, (And Handy) stuff that make this one a must have if you liked the first one.
I think that's all to say right now. Try it if you're interested, and I for one am very glad this series has been given a new installment.



SwerdMurd said:

So my guess would be this game is only playable via Wiimote sideways NES-style? If it supports classic/Gamecube controllers, I'd be a very happy panda.



morphballer said:

Great review! You've convinced me to download but why no classic or Gamecube controller option?



RedBlueSpot said:

Oh MAN!!! Why do we in EU always get treated like crap. We don't have ether Castlevania, Blastermaster or Dark Void (DSi). I'm soooo angry! There's NO eu-release date for ether of them. I also want Phantasy Star Zero... but NO!!



Kev2380 said:

For the life of me I can't find the 4th Boss. I've gone through all the gateways but I can't find the purple orb thing for the boss. It's really annoying me.



techno_shaman_ichauk said:

Even though I'm only at the second level at the moment and keep getting my tail handed to me by the second boss, I think I can safely say this is a well-deserved 9/10.

This is the sequel we've all been waiting for all these years



Wolfcoyote said:

My God! The things you miss when you work too much overtime! I have some errands to run and chores around the house but tonight my PS3 will be gathering dust as I play this on the Wii.

WiiWare and DSiWare is finally picking up - maybe then the constant rumors of WiiWare falling to Sony's PSN or DSiWare falling to Apple's App Store will stop!



Gizmo said:

Mmh, besides Cheat Code Central also GameTrailers.com gave the game an average score (4.8). Too bad, and I hoped that apart from Nintendolife this game would get good scores, too.
So my desire to buy is alas not high anymore =(.



Namo said:

If Sunsoft's making a comeback then I hereby demand Aero The Acrobat remakes or VC releases!



cowboy said:

gametrailers gave it a 5 but for no resons. They just said some great games should stay in our memory and not be played again.



AMP said:

I downloaded it and I love it. There is only one problem i have with it. Why didn't they make it possible to use other joysticks with it? I find locking your direction with the "B" button at the bottom of the Wiimote hard to do and very annoying. Other than that, the game is great.



nice_shirt said:

I want to hate this game. 4:3 ratio - Really?

The over head on foot action feels like a lame Flash game. The original was way better.

But, it's Blaster Master. One of the best original NES games ever made so I cant help but love jumping around and blasting mutants in SOPHIA.

Die-hard fans of the original will enjoy this remake but it could have been so much more.



mushroomer said:

I am an old dad now in my 30's but i remember when i was in jr high, playing the NES blaster master.. and guess how geeky I am... I can still hum the tune to the ice stage.. level 6 .. which by the way is one of my all time favorite soundtracks.. i wonder what the music for this wiiware title is like because one major charm factor for me is the music... game is amazinb btw



Falk_Sturmfels said:

I read a lot reviews about this game, I watched severeal videos. They all say the same: Oh, mimimimimi, this is so hard, mimimimimimi, I can´t beat this WiiWare-Game within two hours, mimimimimimi.

Metacritics says 58%.

Because of mimimimimimi.

But I always loved the look of this game, so I decided to take the risk of wasting 1000 Points. Now, after beating the first endboss, after getting the first upgrade for SOPHIA, I´m in love with this game. Sometimes it´s good not to make the reviews to your own opinion (mimimimimi). Listen to your stomach, as we in germany say.



TromaDogg said:

Meh, I don't think this game is too hard at all. Challenging, yes, but certainly doable....untrue claims about about the difficulty level shouldn't be putting people off, it's a great game and Corbie's review was spot on.

Today's gamers really are too soft if they consider this game to be too hard for them. Now if you were to talk about the ORIGINAL Blaster Master on the NES, that's a truly tough game but Overdrive is a lot more forgiving.



SKTTR said:

The NES original was much better audiovisually. Overdrive lacks detail and looks horribly bland and unfinished in comparison. Blaster Master NES had much better atmosphere as well.
Overdrive looks like a lost SNES game. I think, if it had been released on the SNES in 1992 it would have been a decent follow-up - that still would disappoint fans of the original.

I'm in Area 5 now, but the time-consuming annoying search and grind for weapon upgrades after each boss (and sometimes before) really sucks with its repetitiveness to the point that I don't want to care anymore. It's like grinding for energy in the original NES Metroid: There are places where it's just extremely frustrating, and you loose more than you gain. Sometimes you need to backtrack big chunks of the game to find a spot where it's easy enough AND where you can save.

If you want a really good Metroid-style game on WiiWare that deserves a 9/10 get ROBOX instead. It is extremely challenging as well, but never frustrating. Plus it has the atmosphere, gameplay and innovation that BMO lacks.



Omega said:

If you are looking for an action-adventure game like Metroid with 2D graphics and a pinch SHMUP bullet patterns then Blaster Master Overdrive may be a good choice. It looks good and controls well. And it has enough content to to keep players entertained for at least a week.

But be warned. The difficulty in this game is higher than in Super Metroid or any other Metroids I've ever played. This is mainly because the bosses are like bosses from bullet hell shooters like Ikaruga, R-Type III or Radiant Silvergun.

If you're accustomed to the bosses in SHMUP games then you will love this. Shooter fanatics and hardcore gamers in search of a worthy challenge will be more than pleased with this.

But if you get easily frustrated by video games and have no desire to do the "bullet dance" and dodge entire screens filled with projectiles and to repeat the same dungeons and bosses again and again, you should probably never ever play it.

I personally somehow enjoyed it. It sometimes drove me crazy when I died at a boss and then had to repeat the last sections. But after I kept playing it long enough, the bosses became feasible and at the end I was glad not to give up too soon.

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