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Title: Blaster Master
Rom Player: NESticle
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie

Synopsis: When you were a kid, did you ever wish that you had your own tank? Of course you did. This game capitalizes on that young desire for wanton destruction by pitting you against hoards of nasty mutants. The low-down is this: You play the role of Jason. Jason’s pet frog, Fred, escapes from the water cooler that he’s being kept in, according to the cut scenes. So there he is, hopping along his merry way into the backyard. Unfortunately, he jumps onto what the manual describes as a “radioactive chest,” which you know is radioactive because it has the fallout symbol, as well as the word “radioactive,” printed on it. Now, I knew our country had some waste disposal problems, but come on. As soon as Fred touches it, he swells up into a really big frog, and then falls into a big hole that forms right where the chest was. Jason winds up falling into the hole as well, only to find a sweet-looking tank called the SOPHIA III and some sort of Evel Knievel stunt suit, complete with a helmet that fits perfectly. So, using his new tank, he rolls off in search of his huge frog.

As soon as the game begins, your tank zips into the mountains for some reason, because it seems that the hole you had landed in was just a small cave where people store their tanks and radioactive chests. The mountains are the first stage in your journey, and after that, each level will have one uniform theme, such as castles, futuristic, center-of-the-earth, etc. Plus, you get a sewer level because in a game where you chase down a radioactive frog, it’s only logical that you would stop and say hi to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Plus, you are often called upon to backtrack through the various levels in order to get to the next sequential level. Roughly half of the game takes place with you driving the tank around, but the other half involves you steppin’ out of you fancy gizmo to deal some personal justice to all the freaks out there. Once step out of the tank, you become susceptible to long falls, plus your little peashooter doesn’t quite measure up to the power of your tank’s cannon. Fortunately, you are completely healed when you jump back into your tank. Your ultimate goal in stepping out of the tank to do battle is to enter a small door that will take you into a bird’s eye view with you moving around, shooting significantly smaller enemies. These scenes are fun, but to a limited extent. You see, you get your gun and grenades for these scenes. As you move through, you’ll find some powerups that will increase the power and way that your gun shoots. Every time you are hit, however, you lose a unit of gun power. The enemies in general, the bosses particularly, are much easier to beat with a fully charged gun. The grenades are somewhat useful, but Jason throws them like an arthritic grandma. Thankfully, you can’t hurt yourself with said grenades. Anyway, each level contains a handful of small doors that lead to such scenes, most of which are just there so that you can gather powerups.

Now, to answer the question that I know all of you are dying to ask, yes, the irradiated enemies are weirdos. Whereas each level has a theme all it’s own, the enemies themselves do not follow any guidelines. Things like small pellet-shaped robots and flying heads will be accosting you no matter where you are. The number of original enemies is actually very small. Many of the later enemies are the same ones from earlier, except that they are colored red instead of gray. The redness makes them more resistant to damage, plus it gives some of the ability to shoot at you. This can be a problem because they can shoot in any direction, but you are limited to left and right in the outside scenes and the four cardinal directions in the inside scenes. Of course, after the regular guys come the bosses. Here, you have a similar idea of repeating the same trend of repeating that the regular guys follow, but to a lesser extent; for the first five levels, you get a different boss each time, one being the frog you set out to find in the first place. For the sixth and seventh levels, however, the bosses from the second and fourth levels, the second being a strange thing with big claws and the fourth being Fred, are reintroduced with different colors and extra attacks. As I said before, killing the bosses is much easier with a fully charged gun. This is because the majority of the bosses have only a very small area that can be hit, and the fully charged gun allows you to hit several areas at a time so that you have a good chance at hitting said area and hurting the boss. With a less than fully charged gun, it becomes quite difficult to hit the small area, and every miss treats you to a ringing sound, which gets to be really annoying in the middle of an intense firefight with the boss.

In terms of powerups, the game comes up a little short. All the powerups appear as gray circles with a symbol depicting what it is in the middle. The most commonly occurring powerup is one with the letter “P” on it, which refills one unit of health. After that, there is one with the letter “H” on it, which gives you fuel for hovering, once you find the correct part for the tank. You see, once you beat a boss, they leave behind a part for the tank that will allow you to gain access to the next level. These things very from devices that improve how much damage the cannon on your tank does to ones that allow you to climb walls and ceilings. Getting back to the common powerups, you also find three types of powerups that give your tank extra weapons. In order, they are some homing missiles, the “Thunder Break”, which shoots a big lighting bolt out of the bottom of your tank, and some missiles that fire three at a time in a spreading fashion. The last in line, and the least common, is the powerup for your gun when you’re outside the tank. The gun, hover, and health powerups also come in a flashing variety, which grant you an increase of four instead of one in their respective categories.

The music for this game is not too shabby. Each level gets its own little ditty that, for the most part, serves a good example of Nintendo music. The bosses get short-changed, however, because the very first boss get his own song, but the rest of them have to share one song between them. Considering how easy it is to beat the first boss, you’d think that he would get a really bad song. Oh well. The sound effects are just your average Nintendo bleeps and such that sound like they were borrowed from Centipede. Picking up one of the flashing powerups gives you a weird little noise, but that’s it as far as noteworthy effects.

This is an entertaining game. I like just being able to shoot things with a tank. The boss battles can be a bit tiresome if you’re not prepared, but still, how can you deny any game where you drive your own tricked-out tank? It’s fun for the whole family!

Best Cheats: Defeat bosses on stage 1,2,4,6, and 7 easily - To beat these bosses with ease, all you have to do is make a successful grenade, and then hit the pause button while the grenade is still exploding, and it will do continuous damage to the boss. Just let it sit for a few seconds and when you unpause it, the boss will be dead.

Game Play: 8
Graphics: 7
Music/Sound: 8
Originality: 10
Overall Rating: 8

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