Retro: VC Weekly #186

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe's guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo's download service. Written by Sam C Gittins.

If you're a fan of side-scrolling shooters but like them to contain more than just a smattering of exploration then you'll most likely love this classic release which should more than cater to your needs. Anyway enough from me and on with the game!

Available for download this week we have...

  • Blaster Master : Enemy Below

Price: GB �4.50 EU �5
Publisher: Sunsoft
Developer: Sunsoft
Released: 2000
System: GameBoy Color

Many will already be familiar with the original Blaster Master originally released on the NES in 1988 which brought with it a rather unique style of play taking place within a rather large location for its time; the game was later ported to Nintendo's original GameBoy which helped to further expand the established user-base. Onward to the year 2000 and Sunsoft finally sees fit to create a true sequel entitled Blaster Master : Enemy Below on the GameBoy Color which would prove to be even better than the original, now in 2011 we are seeing this monumental title reappear on the 3DS eShop and it's a most welcome return.

You start off each level inside your armoured tank which has a cannon along with the ability to jump but at certain points it becomes necessary to get out, continuing on foot which means you are instantly more agile but will take damage more easily so it's a trade-off though one that's needed if you're to reach the end of the level in order to face one of the many bosses which are certainly challenging. Your fire-power may also be more limited when on-foot but it's this sporadic switching which is required in order to make progress within the games large, open environments where exploration is most definitely key; most of the time an upgrade to your vehicle is necessary in order to advance so you'll need to be searching and shooting in equilibrium.

Controls are very solid offering a satisfying responsiveness making navigating the levels a joy on the whole though when it comes to the top-down sections things can seem slightly sluggish due to the omission of moving and shooting using diagonals which is possible in other titles but not here for some reason; unlike such titles though this is mainly side-scrolling as opposed to being purely top-down so it's more of a gripe than anything game-breaking. That aside there is a lot of enjoyment to be had here though I will stress that it is most definitely a title that isn't to be taken lightly as it's challenging from the very beginning right through to the bitter end so be prepared if you intend to invest time in this classic.

There should be no complaints visually as this mere GameBoy Color title looks comparable to the original NES title in terms of detail levels even exceeding expectations in certain sections, it really is quite something to behold as the graphics hold up rather well having aged positively. Stunning chip-tunes are the audio order of the day as again the music sounds very much like its home-console brethren which is most definitely a positive thing as every accompanying sound is something of a treat for the ears every bit as much as the visuals are a feast for the eyes.

Another case of a sequel more than living up the original ground-breaking title perhaps even surpassing it thanks to a few tweaks achieved by the hardware being utilised particularly well by Sunsoft but much more than this there is a classic formula underlying the impressive aesthetics which ensures the player is kept engaged at all times. Make no mistake this is one of those rare titles which really should be played by anyone who truly enjoys and appreciates great games; Blaster Master : Enemy Below is a classic title you'd be wise to download if you've yet to experience its brilliance.

Verdict : Master of the 'Blaster' series which leaves an everlasting impact in gaming.

That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

Sam Gittins
[email protected]

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