We saw a lot of legendary titles come out of the 8-bit era of gaming, but probably none quite as ahead of its time as Blaster Master. The game combined so many different gameplay ideas into one amazing adventure that offered up more playability than probably any other title of its kind at that time. There was platforming, exploration, and enough shooting action to keep even the most finicky game fan glued to the television screen. So how does this nearly 25 year old game hold up and is the game worth your hard-earned Wii Points?
In Blaster Master, you take on the role of Jason. Your ultimate goal is to locate and destroy the boss in each area in order to receive a special power-up for your armored vehicle that will allow you to progress on to the next area in the game. You can traverse each level in basically one of two different ways. The first way is by driving your armored vehicle around shooting everything in site. As you upgrade your vehicle with the special power-ups, you'll begin to have more freedom of movement at your disposal that can make traversing some of the trickier levels much easier. Of course there will be times when you reach a point in a level that cannot be accessed using your vehicle - this means you'll also have to do some moving around on foot.
Once outside of the vehicle, you can enter the smaller areas of the game that change the perspective from a side view to an overhead view. Many of these are made up of tricky labyrinths that must be explored, not to mention many enemies that you'll have to blast into bits in order to survive. While your blaster will be your weapon of choice most of the time, you'll also have access to missiles and grenades as well. These will come in particularly handy when facing many of the game's extremely tough bosses, and there are plenty of them.
The play control in Blaster Master is extremely responsive and very easy and intuitive to use. Exploration plays the biggest role in the game and is what makes up the bulk of the challenge. It's also nice in the way the developers were able to craftily weave in the platforming and shooting areas of the game and when you toss in the amazing boss fights, you have a title that's absolutely chock full of playability and a game that's as much fun to play as it is challenging.
Visually, Blaster Master is pretty impressive for an 8-bit release. Each area features a very distinctive look and feel and there's certainly no shortage of variety when it comes to the many backdrops you'll be seeing throughout the game. Even the bosses are very well drawn and animate quite fluidly considering the humble hardware they were developed on. It's clear that the developers did their homework and put in the time it took to create a solid graphical presentation and it really paid off in the finished product; it's fair to say that this is one of the best-looking NES titles.
Much like the visuals, the audio presentation in the game is brilliant. We saw a lot of amazing chip tune musical scores come out of the 8-bit era and Blaster Master is among the best of them. Most of the tracks are catchy up-tempo numbers that perfectly fit the action-packed intensity of the game. Even the sound effects are top notch and add in even more audio magic to the overall package. Let's just say that you'll likely find yourself humming these tunes long after you've put the game controller down.
Blaster Master still stands as one of the true gems to come out of the 8-bit era of gaming. Its fantastic gameplay and thoroughly engaging quest make for one amazing video game experience. Sure, the game is a bit on the difficult side, but it's so good you'll want to keep coming back to it in order to beat it. It's easy to see why so many classic game fans still hold this title in such high regard and it's great to see Sunsoft bring it back for an entirely new generation to enjoy. If you've yet to experience Blaster Master then you owe it to yourself to give the game a try and at a mere 500 Wii Points, it's an absolute steal.