Game Review

Blaster Master Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Liam Doolan

Master your blast!

The latest eShop release of Sunsoft's 1988 NES classic, Blaster Master, marks the title's third Virtual Console appearance. With the game previously sighted on the Wii and more recently the 3DS, now it's the Wii U's turn to host this side-scrolling and top-down platform shooter that has since spawned an entire series.

The western iteration of Blaster Master is considerably different to its futuristic Japanese counter-part, Meta Fight. Players instead take control of protagonist Jason, who lands himself in hot water after his pet frog, Fred, jumps down a hole into the depths of the earth. While in pursuit Jason stumbles upon an armoured tank, the SOPHIA, and so he takes it in his stride to unleash hell upon an army of radioactive mutants.

What makes Blaster Master such a special outing is its seamless but challenging mash-up of styles across eight levels – with each area composed of an overworld crafted as a traditional side-scrolling section, and multiple top-down platform stages featuring Jason alone. To access top-down segments, Jason is also able to exit the vehicle in the side-scrolling sections.

Beyond exploration, the primary goal is to defeat the mutant bosses hidden in the depths of top-down stages. These areas are relatively small – although, as already mentioned, there are plenty of them to explore. After a boss is defeated a new item to power up the tank is obtained, rewarding access to the next area.

In terms of survival basics, both the vehicle and Jason have a power energy gauge which displays remaining health. A separate mechanic for the tank is a hover meter, whilst Jason has a gun energy gauge that allows him to power up his weapon, but also reduces the weapon's power if damage is taken by enemies. Additionally there are various other items and capsules which enhance and replenish supplies, while improving the overall chance of survival. The player also has the ability to select between weapons from the start menu, which adds a minor element of strategy.

With so much on offer, completing Blaster Master can be quite a feat; the difficulty level of the game only adds to the experience with its ruthless nature. This requires the player to abide by a strict formula with well-timed jumps, pinpoint accuracy, and also display an understanding of the enemy in order to progress. This level of difficulty is thankfully nicely balanced with precise and responsive controls, and a smooth sense of movement when controlling both the protagonist and vehicle. The support of the Virtual Console's save state is also helpful, given the lack of in-game save points or even passwords.

Visually speaking, Blaster Master lives up to the average 8-bit release. Both the side-on and top-down environments have been appropriately themed, though the colour palettes don't look particularly vibrant on modern technology. The title screen, opening cinematic and boss scenes are also dangerously unpleasant with flashing that could cause a seizure. The music and sound is a redeeming facet, with a range of catchy tunes on loop, and oddly soothing beeping sounds when firing a weapon or jumping.


Blaster Master still stands as a satisfying experience. With clear-cut controls, a ruthless but rewarding nature and an obscure yet fitting theme (in more ways than one), Sunsoft's hit is a worthy addition to anyone's Virtual Console library – provided they are ready for a truly classic challenge.

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User Comments (31)



Spoony_Tech said:

This is still one excellent game. One of my favorites from the nes and only a handful I could get back into after all these years! Deserves much higher score imo.



Sean_Aaron said:

I thought I owned this on my old European Wii, but it turns out it was the WiiWare update which is oddly not as compelling as the original. Not much excites me in the update for this upcoming Thursday so I might have to download this baby!



TerrapinJess said:

This was and still is my favorite NES game. I think this title was "pushing the system to its limits" at the time. I'd easily pick this over Metroid because you can disembark from your vehicle at will. 28 years old now, I still have this fantasy that I will someday make my car resemble Sophia III...

I think this should easily get a 9 or 10. It's lacking a map system and whatnot but I guess I'm just lucky since I played it so much I have the worlds memorized (yes even the "sewer" level!)



SquirrelNuts said:

Such an awesome game. 7/10 I think not. This is a 9/10. If you compared it to only NES games, it's a solid 10.



AhabSpampurse said:

I agree with the reviewer. I'm on oldie gamer who grew up with the nes but I just couldn't get on with this title. Very tedious and not all compelling for me.



WaveGhoul said:

I still can't beat the final bosses 2nd form.....And I dread the thought of having to go through the entire tedious grating experience to get to that point again.

this game is about a 6-7 for me. it's pretty unique, but incredibly frustrating....It's not fun having to replay this particular game over and over again just to make little pogress. wait until you get to the crab boss, not to mention that ice chucking blue lobster. some of the most irritating bosses to hit the NES period



Pahvi said:

Never got past the fifth boss in the 90s despite repeated attempts.

Still, 7/10 sounds legit unless you're fine with the games designed for rental: very hard game and limited continues.

The music and graphics are good, though... but IMO not worth paying the money for it.



SavoirFaire said:

Really hope this makes it to the US as this is one of the NES games I never did beat, and I beat a lot of them. As I recall I got to this point with a really long jump and could never figure out how to get past it.

Yes I will abuse the heck out of save points on this one. Playing some of these NES games and realizing I beat them without save points blows my mind now on how awesome I used to be 😎 emphasis on "used to" 😭



Funbunz said:

One of my greatest gaming accomplishments as a kid was beating this game. What a challenge, I doubt I could do it now. I think the review score is too low. For the NES, this game had great graphics and one of my favorite soundtracks ever. I get those tunes stuck in my head all over again just by reading a review.



Ryno said:

@Spoony_Tech: Agreed, @WaveBoy should be ashamed. This game is a NES all timer! One of the few originals I kept from my childhood. He must be blinded by his California Raisin shades. If replaying the game to get to the final boss is such a pain, then why not just save state it right before that fight?

If only games today had half the creativity that this game had...



sketchturner said:

I really want this to come to the NA eshop. I bought it on my Wii, but save states would be VERY worth the upgrade. I tried several times to finish it but the difficulty is compounded by the fact that the game is really long and also has no save system. I feel like if you could save, the game's difficulty would be very fair and this would be one of the best NES games of all time.



dadajo said:

If you have a nes and don't care what platform it is on might as well get it on nes. I don't know about everywhere else but in the USA I got mine for $3.



yokokazuo said:

I didn't know this was already on the 3DS eShop, and I am just 10 coins away from getting the Majora's Mask Messenger Bag so I think I'll get it.



invictus4000 said:

This remains one of my favorite games. It is way solid, especially for an NES-era game. Great gameplay with tight controls, challenging but not impossible, and some of the best 8-bit tunes ever that I would be happy listening to in my car as I drive around town (or an underground labyrinth).

And I mean c'mon how could you not like a game with a storyline like this:
Kid has a pet frog. It escapes into his backyard where there happens to be a frikin' miniature nuclear reactor that mutates the frog into a monster. It then proceeds to jump down a giant pit to endless underground catacombs, which also happens to be in your backyard. You jump down to follow and find an f'n TANK with huge amounts of fire power that can hover, go under water, and jump. Also at the bottom of the pit is a perfectly fitting suit of body armor. You equip it, hop into the tank, and destroy EVERYTHING.
The End.



WaveGhoul said:

Because save states are for puny little shadeless raisins.
I'm all for replaying and mastering my retro craft when it comes to the majority, if not all old school games, but Blaster Master just brings my piss to a boil because half the experience imo just isn't really that much fun. I have a love hate relationship with it.

it IS very original though and I was always captivated by the intro cutscene. it's definitely something that sticks with you. have you played the latest blaster master that launched back when WiiWare was all the semi-craze?



letsplay said:

One of my favorite games on the NES. Not too hard but just right to keep the game going. Love it.



AshFoxX said:

This is one of the games from the NES that makes me remember why I'm a gamer. No matter how many times I play it, I always enjoy playing from the beginning every time just to get just a tiny bit further. I was actually looking for this at the local retro store today but of course they didn't have it, so I may have to dip into the Wii U version even though I don't usually buy NES games from the Wii U VC since I got most of them on my derelict Wii.

Blaster Master is right up there on my favorite NES games right next to Little Samson and Jackal.



retro_player_22 said:

So the 3DS eShop version got 9/10 and the Wii VC version got 9/10 but the Wii U version got 7/10? I just don't get the score change here.



Neophoenix said:

I absolutely love this game, I really would LOVE to see a remastered version of this on Wii U.



HnD said:

So I'm guessing no turbo B or slo-mo...

Def onboard with the " greatest 8bit tunes ever" comment.

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