Blaster Master is a beloved series, delighting retro fans and old school gamers alike, so when Blaster Master Zero seemed to pop out of the blue on the Nintendo Switch with relatively no press around it, it made me worried that the game would not be up to the expectations fans of the series would have. Boy was I wrong.
Blaster Master Zero
Publisher: Inti Creates
Developer: Inti Creates
Platform: Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)
Release Date: March 3, 2017
This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review above, or read the full review of the game below.
Blaster Master Zero really cleans up the pixel art style of the previous games to present the player with some crisp and clean artwork. Everything feels familiar but made more vibrant, detailed, and sharp. The color pallet being upgraded has given Blaster Master Zero the ability to really explore the universe and characters/enemies in the series at a depth the series really deserved but the technology could not produce.
Players will find the changing landscapes, varied enemy types, and a multitude of bosses engage them on not only a gameplay level but a visual one as well. A big standout and staple of the series are the unique boss battles you encounter. There was a lot of effort detailing and designing the bosses for Blaster Master Zero so that they felt fresh but still held onto the original designs from the previous games.
Gameplay is broken up into two sections: a top-down dungeon crawler and a metroidvania-style 2D world exploration game which serves as your main way to traverse the world.
The bosses you fight and the power ups you use in the metroidvania section are gained mostly from dungeon points on the map, which gives an added layer of complexity and fun to the game. In these dungeon sections, the game rewards the player for not being damaged by giving them access to bigger and better weapons right away. If you can keep yourself unscathed, this makes for a more rewarding experience when you finish a dungeon and its boss. Smart players will learn to use the different weapon types you get to travel more effectively through maps.
Most the time you will be playing the metroidvania portion of the game in the Sophia III, which is your all-terrain tank, equipped with a large variety of power-ups and weapons by the time you get to later stages. The combat is extremely satisfying in this mode, with all power ups feeling very balanced throughout the game. One of the best things about the exploration is that it’s very two tone in its told locations and discovery: when you enter a new area, you have no map or information about it other than its layout, but when you find the dungeon with the map for that area, you are given a general direction to head in to gain the power-ups and fight bosses.
One small issue with the metroidvania sections is that for some areas they require you to exit the Sophia III, making you extremely vulnerable to fall damage (read: instant death) at heights greater than your jump. This would normally not be an issue, but in these sections they often want you to jump and grab onto a ladder, which if you miss, you fall to your death. This seems simple, but the mechanic of actually grabbing onto the ladder is completely broken and a pain in the ass to deal with. Forget about using anything other than the direction pad for this, because any other movement that is not “UP” will mean a quick fall to your doom.
Many players will fall in love with the assortment of bosses you see in this game, and while not particularly hard in any way, they are fun and interesting.
Much of the sound and music of Blaster Master Zero hits you right in the nostalgia, but when compared to the retro classics, it’s a clear and amazing step above. It really ties the game together in a nice bow while you are exploring the landscapes and dungeons of the world.
The story of Blaster Master Zero is light but not non-existent. You play as Jason, a young scientist who finds an interdimensional frog named Fred, which ultimately leads him to the Sophia III. Along the way you meet Eve, a mysterious android girl who lost her memories.
While being lite the world they are building in Blaster Master Zero is quite interesting, with some stand out lore for those who are interested in exploring it. It is one of those “as much or as little as you want” sort of games in this sense.
Blaster Master Zero is one hell of a retro remake that hits all the points of the original flawlessly but brings it to the modern era. In general, it’s a near perfect experience and a “blast” to play.
You will be hard pressed to get a better retro remake that not only respects the original game but improves on it instead of just repeating it. This is a must buy for anyone with a Nintendo Switch.
Blaster Master Zero was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch using a download code purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 9.5
- Beautiful pixel art.
- Well balanced gameplay.
- Lots of variety.
- Great power ups.
- Improves on, rather than repeating.
- Tiny issue with ladder jumps.