Updated: Aug 10, 2021
Publisher: Inti Creates
Developer: Inti Creates
Release: July 28, 2021
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Also available for: PlayStation 4, Steam, Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox One
If you have heard any of our podcasts, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of Blaster Master. Being one of the first games that I owned on the NES, I poured hours into this game only to be thwarted by the final boss, and with limited continues, I never did finish the original game. That always bothered me, because from the moment I picked this game up, I was enthralled with it. The ability to jump in and out of a tank, where some parts of the game were side scrollers and others were top down, Blaster Master was the first game that opened my eyes to how cool games really could be. As a kid, outside of the handful of friends that played the game at my house, not many people heard of Blaster Master. I couldn’t commiserate with others on how cool and frustratingly hard the game was.
Over the years there have been some spin offs and remakes, but nothing really captured the series like the Blaster Master Zero games. Blaster Master Zero 3 completes the trilogy and is a pure joy to play. It picks up right where the previous game left off, Jason and Eve finally make it to the planet where this all started, Sophia. Upon arriving, you are captured by the Sophia forces and are separated from your companions. You must search for your friends and find out what is going on...oh, and there are mutants everywhere.
One of the best things about the Blaster Master Zero series, and Blaster Master Zero 3 in particular, is just how tight the controls are compared to the original game. I recently picked up the original game again, and I instantly felt the difference. The original game felt a lot more sluggish, not responding immediately to my inputs. There were jumps that I know I should have made but just couldn’t in the original Blaster Master. Zero 3’s responsiveness is spot on. Another difference is the performance. When there were a lot of enemies on screen in the original, the game would lag, causing some jumps to be missed or enemies to get unintentionally run into. This isn’t the case with Blaster Master Zero. I know that in modern gaming, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but I’m telling you, as a kid that absolutely loved the original game but was frustrated with the lag, this is a much improved experience.
The overall design of the game is also pixel perfect. There are people that think pixel games are easier to create, but really, to make a game look as beautiful as Blaster Master Zero 3 and still capture the retro look is a challenging feat. Not only does the game look beautiful, but the level designs are well done too. Thank goodness for save points! The fact that there are save points before a boss or right after a challenging platforming section is very welcomed.
Speaking of bosses, the boss battles in this game are well done. Much like its predecessors, each boss will have a set of patterns that you’ll need to learn to beat it. Because there is a save point right before each boss, the act of learning the different patterns isn’t a frustrating experience. Plus the boss’s look really cool, they did a great job of mixing them up for both the top down levels where you play as Jason and the side scrolling sections where you’re in your tank.
Some new features added to the game are the different weapon types; you have your blaster, a spread shot, a whip, an electric shock, and a wave like attack. Each attack is paired with a different color, which adds an element of puzzle solving as there are certain doors that won’t open unless you blast a target with the correct weapon. The targets are different colors, so you know which weapon to use to open the door.
Another new feature is the ability to enter into “dimensional disruptions”. You’ll find these disruptions in dungeons and in the side scrolling areas, and to enter them you hit the top two shoulder buttons. This adds a whole new element of exploration, as certain areas of a map may only become accessible by entering into the disruption, traversing the dimension, and finding another dimensional disruption portal on the other side that will take you to a new part of the map.
Final Grade: A+
I can’t give enough praise for what Initi Creates has done with the Blaster Master franchise. If you want to experience a retro-style game with modern mechanics, the Blaster Master Zero franchise is one you need to check out. It captures the essence of the original series and modernizes the gameplay mechanics. I don’t give out many A+ games, but Blaster Master Zero 3 certainly deserves it.
Review code provided by Initi Creates.