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Blaster Master Zero Review

Blaster Master Zero Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for the sake of the review.

During the era of the NES, a game called Blaster Master was released made by Sunsoft. It was a fun game that got a lot of praise but sadly not a lot of love. It was overlooked but it did have a legacy that lasted almost 20 years, spawning a sequel, spin-offs, and a re-imagining. In November 2016, Inti Creates announced that they plan to try their luck on the franchise with a retro 8-bit remake called Blaster Master Zero. The guys at Inti know how to deliver good titles such as Azure Striker Gunvolt as well as the Mega Man Zero & ZX series but could they pull it off with this? The answer is simple. Yes.

Blaster Master Zero is an 8-bit remake of the original and since it is, the plot is similar. The story is set on Earth, set centuries after humanity was able to restore the planet after it plunged into an ice age due to endless wars. It focuses on a scientist named Jason Frudnik who finds a frog-like creature, calling it Fred. One day, Fred escapes and heads to a strange hole. Jason gives chase only to end up inside and discovers a weaponized tank called Sophia III. Seeing that the underworld is still around, Jason uses Sophia III to explore in the hopes of finding Fred and anything else that comes his way.

It’s straightforward but unlike the NES version, it includes stuff that was in the original Japanese incarnation, Metafight. I like how it ties the two together, despite it being a reboot. But in a way, I find it enjoyable seeing how Inti Creates pays tribute to the franchise as a whole.

Being that it’s a reboot, Blaster Master Zero’s gameplay is similar to the original NES game. Piloting the tank Sophia III, you explore 9 different areas while battling enemies and acquiring upgrades for your tank. Sophia III can shoot in three directions, jump really high and can contend with any situation. I should mention that the game is a Metroidvania-style game, hence the exploration. But you aren’t limited to just Sophia III. Many of the areas contain small caves for Jason to explore. The game then shifts to an overhead view where you explore said caves, shoot down monsters and find items. Your gun has a total of 8 different types and each work well depending on the situation. Heck, some gun types can be more effective than others. Boss fights are there too and strategy is important because just shooting may not be enough.

As far as length goes, the game will take you roughly 5-6 hours if you are going for 100% completion. If you are playing the game on the Nintendo Switch, the game also has co-op multiplayer where you and a friend can team up and kick butt. A nice welcoming feature indeed but sadly it isn’t on the 3DS version. Not much of a bad thing but regardless, the game is still enjoyable. Unlike the NES version, this one actually have save points and checkpoints. The checkpoint system is superb and in case you go down, you can continue where you left off either at a save point or in a cave entrance. Amazing. A sigh of relief for people that felt the original was too hard. Presentation-wise, the game is amazing. Inti Creates did a great job reimagining the original Blaster Master and making it better. It’s vibrant and lively, not to mention colorful. The music is amazing with some really addicting tunes and they also help add more to each area. Controls are spot on and precise. Perfect would be too appropriate of a word to say how good they are. With a recent update, the game also supports the Switch Pro Controller so to anyone that has this you have another option to play the game. Blaster Master Zero has a fair amount of challenge. It isn’t too hard or too easy but if you know your way around, the game isn’t difficult.

If I were to find any negatives, it’s that some levels have way too many hazards, forcing you to either find a way around or go for what’s obvious. It can get difficult especially with enemies firing at you and one mistake can lead you to an unexpected death. It would be nice if the game wouldn’t have sections that require you to improvise but since it’s a reboot, I only wish it can be alleviated. But honestly the game is that good, I see it as a minor negative at best.

Blaster Master Zero is a game that brings new life to a franchise that has a lasting legacy. Sharp controls, great music, amazing presentation and the addition of co-op on the Switch version adds a lot to an otherwise impressive game. What’s even better is that the game is worth $10. For $10, you are getting a game that offers so much and more. If you haven’t played the original NES game or any of the others, this is a perfect start for you. Bottom line, Blaster Master Zero is worth your money. I guarantee it.

I give Blaster Master Zero a PERFECT 10 out of 10. It also earns my personal Seal of Approval. Get this game now whether on the Switch or 3DS.

Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment Review

Product provided for this review by Yacht Club Games.

Three years ago, a little game called Shovel Knight was released. It was praised both critically and commercially for not only being fun but as a tribute to the games of yesteryear. A year later, Yacht Club Games releases its first expansion, Plague of Shadows, serving as a what-if story with Plague Knight as the protagonist. It was a great expansion that offered something different. Now Yacht Club Games is back at it again with the second expansion called Specter of Torment. The focus shifts on the scythe wielding Specter Knight but can this second expansion deliver just as well as the last one?

Unlike the previous two campaigns, Specter of Torment is a prequel to the original Shovel Knight. It centers on Specter Knight as he’s ordered by The Evil Enchantress to gather knights from all over the region to form her Order of No Quarter. In addition, the campaign details on Specter Knight’s origins. It is an interesting premise and adds more to the lore of the Shovel Knight world.

Shovel Knight has always been best known for its gameplay and presentation. The gameplay still is excellent in the case of Specter of Torment. Since Specter Knight is the focus, he plays differently than the previous two. He packs a scythe that can be used offensively against foes and is also used as a means to move about. He can do a dash strike either diagonally up or down and it doubles as a dash. He can walk up on walls for a few seconds, allowing wall climbing. He is fueled by darkness and in turn, has access to several “curios” or relics that offer unique advantages. To get those, he has to collect red skulls in each level and exchange them. The abilities can also be upgraded too. Like Shovel and Plague Knight, he can get garb that can change how he plays. It adds more variety to a character that can provide so much.

There is no world map for instead you have the castle that serves as a hub for all your needs. Similar to the Mega Man series, you have the option to choose your stage. It’s good in case one level is tough, you can try another that’s easier. As far as length goes, it’ll take you 4-6 hours to beat and New Game + adds more hours into it along with the challenges providing a lot for your money’s worth. I’m serious. For $10 (or $25 if you get the Treasure Trove Pack), it offers a lot.

The presentation is simply a sight to behold. Though it’s old school, the detail is amazing. It amazes on how a game like this provide so much and fact is, Yacht Club Games captures the feel of old school games for the modern era. Specter of Torment should get praise for its music. Jake Kaufman is back at it again delivering music that makes your ears fill with excitement. They are remixed, yes but they also feel original. Good much alongside great gameplay and a strong presentation really makes this a surefire hit. I love it personally. Now I only wish that we would get the soundtrack for this.

As for anything negative, I couldn’t find any that hinders the game. Absolutely none. The game can be hard but it’s a good kind of hard, something that is sadly missed nowadays. I’m happy that it can be challenging and it doesn’t punish the player as much. From my experience, I say that it is a game that’s worth playing plus it does detail what would soon follow in the events of Shovel Knight’s campaign. People that couldn’t get it on the Switch will have to wait a month before this comes out for all the other consoles. If you purchased the Treasure Trove Edition, the game also comes with the option to body swap in Shovel Knight’s campaign. You can mix the genders of all the characters involved for some crazy possibilities.

Specter of Torment offers a lot at a reasonable price giving us a new playable character, hours of replay value and other additional features. Yacht Club Games hits it out of the park yet again with another expansion to an otherwise amazing game. With King Knight’s expansion on the horizon, I can say that Spectre of Torment is one that is worthy to be knighted… with a shovel of all things. You know what they say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

I give Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment a perfect 10 out of 10. This game is worth your money, that’s a fact.