Developer JoyMasher may be fairly new on the scene, but they are already proving themselves to be masters of the 16-bit arcade aesthetic that many people grew up on and loved, one way or another. Their most recent foray into game development is the vastly enjoyable, albeit almost soul crushingly hard, Contra-inspired game, Blazing Chrome. Harking back to the quarter destroying run and gun, single death side scrolling shooters such as the aforementioned Contra and contemporaries such as Metal Slug and others, Blazing Chrome offers players a sci-fi, metal apocalypse with loads of unlockables and cool characters that will put you to the test, especially at the harder difficulties. Read on to find out why!
Publisher: The Arcade Crew
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam
Release Date: July 11th, 2019
Players: 1-2 Players
Let me just be up front about something here right at the start: I absolutely stink at these types of games, despite my love for them. While I have enjoyed my forays in to Metal Slug in the past, I either had to take out a small loan to finish it (which I never did in the arcades), or I had to abuse continues like no ones business when it came to the home console versions.
Games such as those, or in the case of this review, Blazing Chrome, have always put my skills to the test and I have always come up lacking. I guess I just get way too into the game and leap before I look.
I have never been known to take my time as I should with these style of games, and I am always punished appropriately. Which, ironically, makes these games that much more enjoyable for me. Regardless, Blazing Chrome looks and plays like a retro-shooter fan’s dream come true.
On the lower and mid level difficulties, these style of games offer up just enough leeway for you to realize that it’s your own mistakes and not a design flaw in the game keeping you from progressing. It’s my own fault when I fail to notice the bullets coming right at me or when I move too far forward in the stage and enemies begin to swarm around me, leading to my eventual death.
So while I, personally, found Blazing Chrome to be on the harder side of things, even on the lower difficulties, the time I spent running and gunning was immensely fun. Each time I finally defeated one of the huge, and usually grotesque, bosses, I got a sense of accomplishment, which is honestly fairly rare in todays gaming field.
Blazing Chrome is a fairly simple game all things told. You move from left to right and mow down hordes of enemies as they appear from all sides of the screen. Luckily, you are given several weapon options other than the basic machine gun to help you on your trek to free the human race from the machines enslaving us.
There are three different helper bots that you can possibly gain throughout each of the stages. An attacker bot, a shield bot (that basically gives you two extra hits before you die) and a speed bot.
Beyond the main gun, you can obtain a chargeable laser weapon, a grenade launcher and an energy whip style weapon. Each of which is lost should you die while using said weapon, but the others remain for you to use if you have them available.
In order to further help you on your endeavors, you will also be able to use various mech suits and vehicles in the various stages, expanding on the basic run and gun mechanics the genre is so well known for.
Mechanically, Blazing Chrome is an extremely solid run and gun style game. Like I said earlier, when I died, I knew it was usually my fault. Most of the bosses are satisfyingly difficult with a few having mechanics where, if you want an easier time defeating them, you will need to think about the order in which you destroy their various parts.
I will say, because of my own lack of skill in these style of games, I did find many of the bosses to be almost unfair in a bullet hell-esque sense. But again, players with more skill or who enjoy these style of games will find Blazing Chrome to be satisfying in the difficulty that it offers up and the very tight mechanics presented.
There are a few modes to be unlocked once the game itself is completed as well as two extra, melee style heroes to unlock, just in case you really hated life and wanted to up close and personal with the different enemies that already kill you in one hit or if they touch you.
The story is presented in full arcade, 80s, Terminator-style post apocalyptic glory. Which is to say, there really isn’t much to write home regarding the story in Blazing Chrome, as it is mostly used as a backdrop for the game to make sense.
Mankind has been enslaved by robotic masters and you are helping a renegade freedom fighter force who are trying to free the remaining humans. There you have it. But like I said, the story is mostly there for you to have a reason to kill and destroy the biomechanical baddies out for blood.
Visually, Blazing Chrome is everything we loved about the 16-bit era of gaming. Ignoring the recent flood of bad indie games who try to emulate pixel art and do it badly, JoyMasher shows that they actually understand what made those games of yesteryear so much fun and so beloved.
Blazing Chrome has some truly spectacular sprite work, especially when it comes to the boss monsters and backgrounds for each stage.
I will say that I do somewhat wish that the main characters had even more details in their character designs, as the promo art for the game is fantastic. But that is an overall minor complaint all things considered, as the characters are diverse in their designs as are the enemies.
And the bosses for each stage are unique, huge, and grotesque. You never have to guess at where their weak point is or what you have to do in order to take them down. The designs themselves make the fights intuitive.
As far as the sound goes, once again JoyMasher shows just how much this was a labor of love for classic arcade run and gun games. The music and the voices sound as if they were ripped right from that bygone era of gaming. The music is just the right amount of rock and upbeat melodies that drive you forward and amp up the adrenaline during each of the stages.
Blazing Chrome is very much a love letter and homage to the older generation of games that defined a generation and destroyed many a weekly allowance. The game offers up a fast paced experience that is sure to delight players looking for a game that will test their reflexes without draining their wallet.
For those who may not be as well versed as others with these types of games, such as yours truly, Blazing Chrome is still probably worth a shot as it is a fun romp, even though it seems much more difficult than it needs to be, even at lower difficulties. Blazing Chrome is a short, blazing run and gun experience well worth the lower price tag that accompanies it.
Blazing Chrome was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a review copy provided by JoyMasher. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.