Blaster Master Zero is a remaster of the 1988 NES classic Blaster Master from Sunsoft. Yes, it’s still a game about a boy, Jason (Jason! Jason? JAY-SON!) and his science project frog, Fred. Not to be confused with the evil Dr. Fred and Crazy Ed from Maniac Mansion, but almost as zany. Now, this game takes place hundreds of years in the future, after a 2nd ice age has sent humanity deep underground, and since then now back above ground. Fred escapes down a hole in Jason’s back yard and our hero, for strictly scientific reasons, goes after the frog. He soon finds a tank called Sophia III and a space suit that somehow fits him perfectly. Like any rational person, he hops in the tank to take it for a spin and he goes in search of his ever-mutating friend, err science experiment, Fred.
As Jason explores the underground players will notice 2 different views, a side profile view like most Metroidvania games while exploring in the tank, and a top-down view as he leaves the tank and explores the various dungeons. At the beginning of the game, Sophia III can shoot both diagonally and upwards. As the game progresses, upgrades will be found to increase firepower as well as give the tank special enhancements to open up new, previously inaccessible areas of the game. In the dungeons, Jason is without his tank, but he makes up for it by being able to shoot in any of 8 directions. By defeating enemies, our hero collects weapon power-ups that increase a power gauge next to his life. Each time he powers up, new weapon types unlock, and can range from a long-range gun to automatic, to even flame throwers! Holding down the left shoulder button allows Jason to choose which weapon to use. But be careful, when hurt, the weapon gauge also takes a hit and the upgrades are lost.
Blaster Master Zero does a wonderful job of capturing that old school 8-bit vibe, but still feels new in many ways. The graphics are a perfect fit for a game that attempts to merge Metroid and Zelda together. The music is catchy and upbeat and serves the game well. Having never played the original Blaster Master on the NES, I’m not sure if the audio is improved, but it’s quite good here.
The exploration throughout the game is fun, however the map shows where the upgrades for both Jason and Sophia are as well as the type of upgrade and where to go next. One of the joys of Metroidvania games, especially Symphony of the Night, is stumbling upon the upgrades on your own. Blaster Master Zero points out where you need to go once you obtain the map for the area, which can zap some of the excitement out of exploring. I guess you could just not look at the map.
The controls feel great and responsive. They are very easy to master and players will get the hang of the game rather quickly. The first few areas are rather easy to go through and finish. Like most games of this type the bosses of each dungeon have their own pattern of attacks, and once it is figured out they become easier to defeat. This, however, does not mean that the game is too easy. It still packs a challenge, especially once Jason reaches some of the later areas in the game. The NES version is notorious for its insane difficulty, but players should have an easier go of it this time around thanks to being able to save their progress.
Blaster Master Zero is a fantastic game, despite its completely over-the-top crazy plot. This is a solid game for the Nintendo Switch that works fantastic in portable mode and still looks great on the TV. For $9.99 this should scratch that retro NES itch while we wait for the Virtual Console to make an appearance.
Blaster Master Zero Review
- Graphics - 8.5/108.5/10
- Sound - 9/109/10
- Gameplay - 9/109/10
- Lasting Appeal - 9/109/10
Final Thoughts: EXCELLENT
If you’re into adventure games that focus on exploring as well as fast shooting, then Blaster Master Zero should suit you perfectly. It’s an exciting game that, with a minor facelift and a few nips and tucks is still glorious all these years later.