Do you remember Blaster Master? That game was a NES title released nearly 30 years ago which became a cult classic back in the day, mixing the free-roaming side-scrolling exploration of Metroid with some top-down exploration segments, reminiscent of Zelda and old Metal Gear. A reimagining of this game has just been released for the Switch and 3DS, called Blaster Master Zero. Despite not knowing much about the series (nor having played any title from the franchise), I was interested to see yet another franchise from the 80s make a comeback.
So, did this turn out to be a good comeback?
Blaster Master Zero redid all of the old game’s graphics, redid its soundtrack and implemented some new gameplay mechanics to make the game feel less dated.
While the top-down levels look pretty neat with those new visuals (there’s lots of colors and some pretty well-detailed sprites), the game still looks quite underwhelming when you’re inside your tank in side-scrolling mode. Not only the scenery looks bland, but so does your tank. Granted, it does look pretty similar to the original NES tank (by the looks of a good trustworthy Google Images search), but the devs should have improved that segment’s visuals a bit more, if they did such a great job during side-scrolling mode.
When it comes to the sound department, the developers made sure to maintain a retro 8-bit vibe with a chiptune soundtrack. The songs are mostly fine, without many standouts, with a few exceptions that turned to be quite underwhelming.
Gameplay-wise, the game received a few upgrades in order to hide some of its old age scars. Thanks to the advent of more than two buttons on a controller, you can easily aim diagonally with the R button, change secondary weapons with the L button, fire said secondary weapon with A, and so on. It feels simple and pretty intuitive, with the only main gripe being the excessive aiming and moving sensibility when using the control stick. It’s better for you to use the oddly-design “d-pad”, you’ll get used to it quickly enough.
The game still maintains the pseudo-open metroidvania gameplay of previous iterations of the franchise, most commonly being summarised in: traverse with your tank through a side scrolling section, find a top down section, beat boss, get item, find new area that was previously impossible to reach, rinse and repeat. Though its predecessors were known for their challenge, Master Blaster Zero is, well, a bit too easy for a game of both its genre and its franchise. That is something nice in order to attract newbies to the series, but you’ll never feel very challenged throughout the game at all.
There’s not much else to say about it, honestly, given its size and simplicity. In the end, Blaster Master Zero is far from being a masterpiece, nor it impresses in any aspect whatsoever, but for its scope and pricetag, I’d say the developers did quite a nice job revamping the old game to a new era of consoles.
Besides, having a metroidvania game on-the-go is never a bad option, especially for less than ten bucks.
Also available on: 3DS