When Inti Creates announced a new Blaster Master game coming to the Switch, I nearly lost my mind. I truly loved the original, and I knew if anyone could do the game justice it would be them. When the game was announced for the 3DS, I was even more overjoyed. I could play it at launch without buying a new console! I’ve since spent a good bit of time with the game and I’m here to ask does it hold up to the original?
Blaster Master Zero is a remake of sorts. It’s basically the NES game redone with new graphics, new-but-still-the-same story, and new gameplay elements added. The game stars Jason Frudnick, an engineering genius. The story is barely there, but basically Jason follows a frog-like creature named Fred down a hole, finds a tank of sorts named Sophia III, and gets drawn into a fight against mutants looking to take over the planet. The story is just a background to the game and is barely there, in tune with 8-bit platformers of the past. It’s not the focus.
The first thing to note is how pretty the game is. Even with the 8-bit stylings, Inti Creates has done a great job with the sprite work in this game. Even the smallest of sprites are well animated, and don’t look like blobs of pixels. This is important, since the side scrolling segments of the game are fairly zoomed out and enemies are quite tiny. These segments make up the bulk of the game as well. The majority of the game sees you platforming and blasting enemies Metroid-style in Sophia III, with Jason making occasional excursions on foot to solve puzzles or venture into caves.
The caves are an interesting part of the game. This is where we zoom in on Jason and the game becomes a top-down, almost Zelda-esque experience. Jason can now level up his blaster, which is fairly useless in the side scrolling mode. Picking up items can increase your gun meter, which allows you to select from several different gun modes depending on how full the meter is. If you take a hit, not only do you lose life, but your gun meter goes down, thus reducing the amount of options you have. It really forces you to think through your attacks so as to not be forced into using a weapon that isn’t right for the job.
..or at least it should. The main complaint I have about the game is how easy it is. Until I got to the last area, which is a huge difficulty spike, I never felt like I was truly being challenged. I was having fun, yes, but none of the bosses were difficult, and the puzzles were typical flip-this-switch-now-go-here-use-new-item fare. This didn’t bother me too bad, but it might bother others who are looking for that old school challenge.
Overall, I really enjoyed Blaster Master Zero. The 8-bit aesthetic combined with updated mechanics (and a great soundtrack!) really hit the mark. I just wish there was a bit more challenge, but it doesn’t take away from the game. You should do yourself a favor and get on this game asap.
Gamer Pantheon Score: 88%