(Nintendo 64)

Blast Corps (Nintendo 64)

Game Review

Blast Corps Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Martin Watts

Blast from the past

Long before the mainstream commercialisation of video games that exists today, developers were mostly free from the shackles of big business. AAA games weren't bound by "sequelitis" — although it was still very much present — and the relative youth of 3D gaming had paved the way for innovation. In this regard, Blast Corps is quite possibly the best example of this time. Developed by Rare for Nintendo 64 in 1997, it was unlike anything that came before it, offering a novel action-puzzle experience that was incredibly good fun and extremely stressful at the same time.

The goal in Blast Corps seems simple enough. A mobile nuclear missile carrier has gone into automatic pilot after it begins leaking radioactive material. The clever bods that built it thought it'd be a swell idea to install a nifty little system that takes over and sets the carrier on a direct course to a safe and remote detonation site, should such a dangerous malfunction occur. This would be a sensible idea were it not for the fact that millions of acres of heavily populated land exists between the carrier and its final destination. To make matters worse, even the smallest of jolts could detonate it and cause a catastrophic event. From the get-go, Blast Corps likes to throw bundles of danger your way.

What’s the solution to this potentially devastating problem? Call in a cutting-edge demolition team known as the Blast Corps and annihilate every single building and obstacle that stands in the carrier's way. Using everything from your everyday bulldozer to wacky robots and explosives, it's up to you to clear the path and keep everyone safe until the next Ragnarok event comes along.

Only Rare could come up with a plot so brilliantly absurd that it actually makes the game utterly enthralling. In order to prevent a nuke from destroying a sizeable, yet still relatively small, area of land, you seemingly have to destroy more, if not everything. The player is given free licence to destroy as much as they deem necessary without ever needing to feel guilty about it. This means that the elderly couple living out their retirement plan in quiet suburbia can't complain when you brutally demolish their cherished home just because it happened to be kinda near the nuke carrier. You're working hard to prevent a nuclear holocaust after all; you're a hero no matter how many innocent lives you ruin through your desire to cause wanton destruction.

Nevertheless, as much as the above may make Blast Corps sound like nothing more than a carefree, demolition-packed joyride, the game is in fact very serious at times. That nuclear carrier isn't waiting around for anyone and — surprisingly — knocking down buildings and blowing things up isn't as easy as it seems. That's because the Blast Corps company, the so-called leader in the field of demolition, uses a wide array of vehicles that look really cool, but are also rather impractical at the same time. Sure, there's the trusty bulldozer that mows down most small- to medium-sized structures with ease, but it's clear that questionable design choices were made when it came some of the other vehicles. For example, the Thunderfist and Cyclone Suit, two of the three robots available, must perform crazy acrobatics in order to obliterate buildings; it'd simply make too much sense if the blasted things could just walk up and pummel them with their giant robotic hands.

Of course, there's a very obvious reason for the vehicles being the way that they are and that's because if they weren't, Blast Corps would be incredibly dull. What makes it so entertaining is the fact that you have to master these vehicles and use them to speedily and efficiently to clear a path. From a game design perspective, Rare outdid itself. Each vehicle has its own style, and when you learn how to use each one to the best of its abilities it's remarkable what you can achieve with them. Some of these mechanical beasts are harder to tame than others, however; the more difficult ones are typically reserved for towards the end of the game, creating a nice sense of progression along the way.

Regardless of how the vehicles handle, the landscapes that you have to shape are what present the true challenge. Certain surfaces slow you down, thus preventing you from gaining the speed you need to go through a building; some objects can only be destroyed by timed explosives, while rivers and gaps present an entirely different challenge altogether. Suddenly all that free time you thought you had to rain havoc on your new suburban sandbox starts to become a desperate race against the clock. It's both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

While the ultimate goal of each mission is to clear the way, Rare did a good job of keeping things fresh throughout. As you progress, you find yourself having to switch between vehicles mid-mission, as well as having to occasionally think outside of the box. There are a lot of puzzle elements at the heart of Blast Corps, which only add to the surprising amount of depth this game has. In addition to using the main vehicles correctly, players must line up cargo trains and boats to create temporary bridges and use cranes to shift vehicles and explosives around. As a result, this makes Blast Corps a game of trial and error. Although an arrow and radar show you where you need to be going — and what you need to destroy — it never spoon-feeds you the solution. It can feel a little frustrating at times, but the difficulty level certainly makes a nice change of pace from some of today's titles.

The game features a number of diversions to help extend your playtime. You're also tasked with finding radiation dispersal units (RDUs), which are essentially lights that turn on when you drive over them, as well as communication relays which unlock new training levels and side missions. You see, for as urgent as the main mission may be, it doesn't stop the Blast Corps team from having a bit of fun every now and again. There are time trial challenges where you have to complete X number of laps or destroy so many objects within a certain time. Many of these are superbly designed, providing the player with a particular pattern or path that they need to work out in order to achieve the best time possible. It adds another dimension to the game, in which the main focus is different, yet still very entertaining.

In terms of visuals, Blast Corps is a little rough around the edges, most probably because it was a fairly early N64 game — it was Rare's second game on the system after Killer Instinct Gold) — but it's still charming nonetheless. The frame rate is rock solid, even when you're causing all kinds of carnage, and the explosion effects do a grand job of adding to the experience. Much like Pilotwings 64, the colour palette is quite vibrant and you never have to worry about fog or slowdown. What makes things a bit difficult, however, is the camera system. Adopting a third-person view similar to real-time strategy games, you'd think that Blast Corps would always provide the player with a good view of the level. However, things can seem a little zoomed in at times and you're often forced to manually change the camera throughout. This can feel a bit unwieldy, but more often than not you can get an ideal viewpoint.

In terms of content, Blast Corps is by no means the longest game in the world, but it’s incredibly challenging. Many stages will likely take you a good few tries, not to mention there are a wealth of collectibles hidden within each main stage. The game’s short mission structure means this a great pick-up-and-play title, and one which you’ll find yourself frequently wanting to come back to.

Conclusion

Blast Corps is a game that probably would have never had a chance in today's world of first-person shooters and plot-led borefests, so it brings us a great deal of comfort knowing that such a project got the high quality Rare treatment back in the day. This is a game that is still immensely fun to play all these years later; the concept is simple and novel, it’s highly playable, has great lasting value and can easily be enjoyed in short bursts. The mixture of puzzle-based and time-limited gameplay provides a unique challenge that even the most veteran gamers will find incredibly testing at times. The end result is absolutely smashing; if you're an N64 enthusiast, there's certainly no excuse for not having this brilliant game in your collection.

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User Comments (53)

KeeperBvK

#1

KeeperBvK said:

Honestly, I would SO buy an XBONE if only it'd get an HD sequel of Blast Corps. The review's spot-on, and it saddens me that we never got a sequel.

ajcismo

#4

ajcismo said:

What a gem of a game. Along with all the other RARE titles from the N64. I'd give a toe for MS and Ninty to work it out so they can both put these games out on their respective VC's.

Shworange

#6

Shworange said:

I put sooo many hours into that game! It really was great. The Ateam van was one of my favorites.

ULTRA-64

#7

ULTRA-64 said:

In my favourite 3 games EVER......Criminaly ignored by many gamers. I hacked my old Wii just to get a Rom for this( I would never rip off Nintendo but for my desperation for this one game) and then couldn't find one that worked so yeah, a bit gutted I don't own my old n64 for this. Great game, amazing gameplay and still kinda original after all this time.

Spoony_Tech

#8

Spoony_Tech said:

I to loved this game! So much fun demolishing everything! My favorite vehicle had to be the A Team van though! Nice hidden gem.

RetrogamerFan

#9

RetrogamerFan said:

Not a scratch on it!
Great review of a brilliant and very original game. Shame this unlikely to ever be on VC, luckily i still have my original cartridge.
Good run of N64 reviews, how about reviewing Space Station Silicon Valley some time, another unique and original game, which was great fun back in the day.

Yasume

#10

Yasume said:

Tried it and hated it. I fail to see the appeal. Easily the worst out of the N64 Rareware titles imo.

Nintex

#11

Nintex said:

"Time to get moving!" lol This game is a classic. So many cool things in this game... like the Pac-Man inspired RDU collecting areas where you gotta use "Backlash" the dump truck or the bulldozer with an insane amount of hardly no time.

Kirk

#12

Kirk said:

I think this game could maybe benefit from a modern day remake.

bezerker99

#13

bezerker99 said:

This game was so epic. I made it all the way to the planets but never could beat it. So many hours of my life were invested in Blast Corps. Rareware was truly blossoming at this point.

"You're just trying to impress me" ;)

CanisWolfred

#16

CanisWolfred said:

This is one of the worst games I played as a kid. Even worse than that Bugs Bunny Genesis game I had. At least that was marginally playable.

Wanderlei

#17

Wanderlei said:

This game is brilliant.
Dunno where it all went wrong with gaming but todays games are garbage.

jon_simmons

#18

jon_simmons said:

I miss games like this so much. Just a simple plot device and some awesome game play. Now every game has to be like a movie.

Rawk_Hawk

#19

Rawk_Hawk said:

I recently picked up a N64, so I will add this to my wishlist along with Pilotwings 64 and a host of other games. Thanks for the reccomendation NL

Nintenjoe64

#21

Nintenjoe64 said:

@ULTRA-64 what are your other two favourites?

I loved this game, was only 16 or so when it came out so could only afford to rent it a few times. This, Jet Force Gemini, DK64 and Body Harvest all deserve a VC release!

bahooney

#24

bahooney said:

@Yasume Hate is a strong word, but I really really really didn't care for it too much. I'm proud to own it in the box from a collector's standpoint, but I just feel like I had no idea what the deuce I was supposed to be doing.

chiefeagle02

#27

chiefeagle02 said:

This was the first N64 game I actually owned. I put a TON of hours into this cartridge back in the day. I never quite got all of the platinum medals, but all the same, this was a wicked fun game (and the space levels were especially awesome).

ULTRA-64

#28

ULTRA-64 said:

@Nintenjoe64 the other 2 in my top three are diddy Kong racing(better than mk in my opinion) and goldeneye/perfect dark(I know I'm cheating but I'd rather die than choose). I'm n64 all the way in my favourites.....and the reason zelda oot isn't there is it's like a book I never want to read again because I love it....no replay value....weird I know ;)

hydeks

#29

hydeks said:

Like Pilotwings 64, this game also slipped pass me :( I need to go back and play some of these classics...

WaveWarlock

#30

WaveWarlock said:

@Dr_Corndog

I love him more. :p
As for Blastcorps, i never gave this game a chance. The only memory i have of it was catching it on Video Arcade TOP 10.

RadioShadow

#31

RadioShadow said:

I brought this game at the beginning of the year for £4 (cartridge only). Been meaning to play it, but the mega Drive keeps distracting me.

Maybe I should go and play it?

JebbyDeringer

#32

JebbyDeringer said:

Love it but it is really weird and quirky so I could understand why some aren't crazy about it. I own this game in box along with most of the RAREWARE games for N64. Still missing DK64, Mickey's Speedway, and KI

Pichuka97

#33

Pichuka97 said:

I bought this years ago but could never really get into it. I'll try this again soon.

RetrogamerFan

#34

RetrogamerFan said:

@MegaWatts @ULTRA-64 Yes, i also have Body Harvest on cartridge. I never completed BH or even got near to completing it, a very tough game but lots of intseresting ideas and loads of vehicles. I suppose they expanded on a lot of the gameplay elements later in the GTA series. A few technical issues, some rather basic graphics and serious fog, held it back a little.
Completed SSV, with all possible prizes (there was a glitch, which meant one trophy couldn't be reached). Great fun and very unique gameplay with some interesting puzzles.

umegames

#36

umegames said:

My brother and I rented this game from blockbuster when we were young, and i HATED this game.....
in my defense, i was only 10, and was upset because he got to pick a game, whereas i wanted to rent something else (bomberman 64 i think) so i was butt hurt i guess ha

CJ_Vick

#41

CJ_Vick said:

We need a 3DS spiritual sequel. Or a remake. Whatever, THIS GAME NEEDS TO COME BACK.

psyguy

#42

psyguy said:

This is one of the games that I played a lot when I was young, but at the same time hardly remember a damn thing about it.

Might dust of the N64 and give it another try.

CaPPa

#43

CaPPa said:

I loved Blast Corps and played it until I got every stage 100% perfect.

@ajcismo
Blast Corps is totally owned by Microsoft now (along with Killer Instinct, Banjo, Conker, Perfect Dark, Jet Force Jemini etc, so pretty much everything except Goldeneye, DKC and Starfox Adventures) so it'll never appear on another Nintendo system. It's a real shame that Microsoft doesn't do much with Rare's IPs and it's the only downside from Nintendo selling them.

ljb88

#44

ljb88 said:

@ULTRA-64 why don't you buy an n64? I know they can be a litle hard to get hold of but you should be able to find one

ULTRA-64

#45

ULTRA-64 said:

@ljb88 yeah guess I need to bite the bullet and buy one, it's a sore point this! I had my original n64 40odd games(including all my saves like 100% done ocarina/b&k/ all goldeneye cheats unlocked etc) and I lent it all to a mate after he moved house for entertainment when I went round. Long story short....he 'lost' it somehow....everything!!! He's a good mate so I still see him but the child in me( the one that pumped in days of gameplay when he should have been out in the sun)...will NEVER forgive him=(

edhe

#46

edhe said:

@KeeperBvK

Judging by what Microsoft did to Rare, it wouldn't be a particularly good game anyway. They'd probably outsource it to a crap shovelware company like they did with Killer Instinct - A supreme kick to the fans' shins.

Rare is for Avatars and Kinect Sports now.

edhe

#47

edhe said:

Incidentally, I've 100% completed Blast Corps. It wasn't easy, but there was plenty to aim for.

The same can't be said for Jet Force Gemini though. That game was MUCH harder!

KeeperBvK

#48

KeeperBvK said:

@edhe
Probably true, but the sad thing is, that I'd STILL buy it right away. That's how much I love the original.

sonik

#49

sonik said:

My 3rd best N64 game, rare you promised a sequel when you moved to Xbox 2003, bring it please.

thanos316

#50

thanos316 said:

blast corps is a hell of a game. a fantastic game. i'm glad to see nintendolife so some love. this game brings back memories. i played this game for hours.. wish a sequel would come out for it, but then it just wouldn't be the same. a true diamond in the ruff..

Luffymcduck

#51

Luffymcduck said:

And this is why I´m very sad that Rare was purchased by Microsoft, not only we won´t get new great games, but the Wii Shop´s N64 collection was half smaller than it should have been.

TenEighty

#52

TenEighty said:

@MegaWatts
SSSV is one of the most unique games I've ever played. If one gets tired of common games like platformers and so forth, this one definitely deserves some gameplay. Would love to see this game make a comeback on any Nintendo system.

michaelshellman

#53

michaelshellman said:

ahh this game :) i remember this game. i don't remember beating it but i do remember loving this game, its like a child's dream to smash buildings in different trucks....i also remember a flying robot or something like that.

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