NES Review – Blaster Master


I played this game when I was seven or eight years old. One of the older kids on the street had this game, and he lent it to us for a week or so. I was blown away by the openness of the game and cool it was to get out of the tank! As we were still learning the ways of Nintendo, we still couldn’t get past the third level! Suffice to say, I was ready to finally conquer this game!

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The story is a really weird one. You take control of a regular kid named Jason, who’s frog Fred escapes from his aquarium and jumps onto a radioactive block in his backyard (why is there a radioactive block in his backyard?). Anyhow, Fred ends up growing to enormous sizes and falls down a hole. Jason – as a caring pet owner, jump down the hole after him.  Jason randomly finds a tank called Sophia, gets in, and blasts into the underground maze. The game begins!

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In terms of gameplay, this is an action game that has both platform and shooter sections, all bundled up with a metroidvania-style level progression. The players initially start out controlling Sophia the tank in a 2D side-scrolling perspective. While driving Sophia in this mode, the players can drive, jump, and shoot the tank in a variety of ways (including missiles and other weapons).  Controls are tight in this section, which is good because much of the game focuses on this type of gameplay – shooting, jumping, and navigating puzzle like 2-D environments. In these sections, Jason can also exit Sophia and run around on-foot, but this is dangerous because Jason does not have a lot of life or firepower and can die from falling. On the other-hand, Jason can enter building and caves which leads to the second major style of gameplay!

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When Jason enters caves, the game shifts to a top-down shooting perspective that incorporates a mix of Zelda and Star Tropics. You venture around multi-room dungeons of sorts, shooting your gun and doing enemies and spikes! You also collect power-ups that make your gun much stronger. However, each time you are hit, your power-up meter does down and you become less powerful.  At the end of each section, there are often a tough enemy or boss, and defeating them unlock more powerful permanent power-ups for your tank Sophia.

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Similar to Metroid, as you progress through the game, you unlock powers than open up more of the world to explore! For instance, the first major boss gives you powers to blast through more difficult enemies. You later also gain powers to blast through rocks, and later on you also gain the ability to fly! This progressions system tied with the great gameplay really made this game a lot of fun to play!

The bosses themselves (generally found at the end of 2D shooting sections) are also really challenging and interesting! The first boss is really easy, but by the 3rd boss, they get much more complicated and fun! My only complaint is that if you have your gun powered-up fully, the bosses can be a tad to easy if you are good at dodging attacks. I would have like more of a balance around firepower because at times the game feels a bit to easy (even though overall the game is quite challenging).

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In terms of graphics, the game still looks great with its awesome 8-bit graphic style. The tank looks great, and Jason is a nice size on the screen when he is in the 2D topdown sections. The environments were really awesome too – stretching from forest areas, caverns, underwater areas, and even high-tech areas! The music is also super catchy – especially the track that starts the game off in the first level. It gets my pumped to play the game each time I hear it! Sound effects are also do a great job conveying the power of your attacks!

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Overall, this is an excellent hybrid 2D action game. While it is challenging, if you are quick to dodge enemies, the game is actually much easier because you can maintain your power-ups! The graphics are still great, and the music rocks. The game is also very affordable for those new to collecting! Overall, I give this game an 8/10! Highly recommended!

Final Score: 8/10








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