Retro Profile: Blaster Master (NES)

Blaster Master was one of the more fairly well known games from back in the day. The 1980’s were a time when certain features and aspects in video games could be still be called “new”. I’ll never forget back in 1990 when my brother’s best friend came over with his NES games. One if them in the bunch was Blaster Master. Never had I seen a game that featured an armored tank with the ability to shoot heavy weaponry and jump to reach higher platforms! I also notice that many games of the 80’s like toying around with the thought of radioactive things causing a bit of havoc for the main hero.

The game play is very well balanced. When you first start exploring the first few sections of any area, you will do so mainly in the tank. There will be moments when you will have to step out of the tank to access the sub-levels and other areas that are too small for the tank to fit through or otherwise access at the time. Jason can also explore the regular over world, but he won’t get very far because he can’t survive high falls or take too many hits from enemy fire, unless he’s in the sub-level. He can, however hop back into Sofia if his energy is too low so he can replenish it and continue on.

When you enter any of the sub-levels, the prospective changes to an overhead view. There’s no platforming involved in these sections, but there are a bit more enemies to destroy in the general vicinity. The sub-levels are where the meat of the game is, because that’s where you find the bosses for each area. You must defeat them in order to gain a new enhancement or key for your vehicle. Upgrades include more powerful shots, the ability to hover, and the ability for your tank to maneuver under water. Sunsoft did a good job of making the two main aspects of the game seem equally as important as its counter part, instead of just a needless, tacked on mode of play.

What puts the icing on the cake for this game is the music. From the time you start the first area, you know that you’re in for a good ride! Every area’s music is fitting for that stage. Whether it’s the exploratory and courageous tune of the caverns or the calming sounds of the aquatic area, the music is very cool to listen to. It doesn’t sound generic in any way. All of the music tracks sound like…well…Blaster Master. My personal faves are area’s 1, 2, and 5. You will find yourself less concerned with how long the game takes to complete, and more in tune with the sounds and to me, that’s a sign of a good platformer.

Play or Stay? The only thing that would have made this game better is a password feature. There’s 8 stages total, and you probably won’t blow through the game in an hour. You may not always feel like trying to complete the game in one sitting, and it would have been nice if there was a simple save feature or something. But overall, Blaster Master has the earmarks of a true NES classic. It’s a game that’s quite enjoyable if you have the time for it.

Jamie Alston is somewhat of an unusual gamer. While most people crave the visual delights that can be found in many of the current generation consoles of today, he actually prefers the 8-bit & “super 8-bit” (SNES) glory days of yesteryear. This is probably due in part to the fact that his brother chose the Nintendo Entertainment System over the Sega Genesis back in 1989…or maybe it had more to do with that time when he fell and hit his head on the blacktop in elementary school. Whatever the reason might be, Jamie has an undying love for those unnecessarily big cartridges he spent so many summer afternoons playing. When he’s not raiding trucks that “have started to move” for rations and key cards, he stays busy supporting his gaming hobby by working as a Policies & Procedures Analyst for a financial company in Baltimore, Maryland. And when he’s not working for “the man”, he’s working on the next retro review for the week. And when he’s not fighting off writer’s block and much needed sleep, he’s raiding trucks that “have started to”—well, you get the idea. Currently living in Randallstown, MD, Jamie sums up his life long dream this way: “If I one day find myself driving on the highway in a 2004 Honda Accord with an NES directional pad for a steering wheel, you can bet that I’ll be holding the up direction for that turbo boost on the straight-aways. That’s when I’ll know that I’ve finally made it in life”.