Lost in Time: Blaster Master 2
It’s no secret that one of my all time favorite games is Blaster Master for the NES. With a Metroid-style open world, top notch graphics, and fantastic music, there’s little not to love about the original Blaster Master. What most people don’t know, is just how many sequels it got. From Game Boy to PlayStation, Sunsoft has been trying to recreate the success of the original for years. The year was 1993, and with the NES reaching the end of its days, Sunsoft wanted to make a 16-bit sequel to their flagship title. Where it landed wasn’t quite what fans expected.
Blaster Master 2
Platform: Sega Genesis
Release: March 15, 1993
Developer: Software Creations
There is an overarching story to the Blaster Master series, and it makes absolutely no sense. In the first game, the player took control of a teenager named Jason who’s pet frog jumped into some nuclear waste, grew to a massive size, and fell down a giant hole. Jason, abandoning all caution and rational thought, followed his beloved frog down the hole where he found a tank named S.O.P.H.I.A. Jumping right in, Jason proceeded to slaughter all in his path in the name of rescuing his pet frog, and I think there was something about saving the world too, but it really didn’t matter. Blaster Master wasn’t about story, it was about awesome. Your tank could jump, hover, climb walls, and even swim, while at any time Jason could climb out and wreak havoc on foot. This mechanic afforded the opportunity for some very different styles of gameplay. The tank segments were side scrolling platformers, with the on foot sections playing out like an overhead action game. by the time the 16-bit generation had come along, Blaster Master had become a fan favorite on the NES, and fans eagerly awaited the franchise’s 16-bit debut. But instead of continuing the series on Nintendo’s Super NES, Sunsoft decided the new home for Blaster Master would be the Sega Genesis.
When players started the game, they were treated to a very familiar experience. S.O.P.H.I.A. still drove like a dream, you could still jump in and out of your tank, and everything looked brighter thanks to the power of the Genesis. Things started to get weird though, when entering what used to be the overhead sections. Where in the first game, the on foot stages were large labyrinths in their own right, this time the player would control Jason from a side scrolling perspective, and the rooms were limited to boss battles only. All was not lost though, as the overhead maps did make a return, but this time you played as S.O.P.H.I.A.
Controlling these areas was a strange affair. The D-pad moved your tank, while the face buttons took care of aiming and shooting. The result was quite cumbersome, and led to a lot of frustrating deaths. Speaking of frustration, this game is very difficult. Sure, there were continues and power-ups to be found, but the overall level of difficulty was even more punishing than the original. Combining that with the strange control scheme, and the move from Nintendo to Sega, Blaster Master 2 saw very poor sales. As of the time of this writing, it has not been re-released for any platform.
Despite this, Blaster Master 2 was a very good game. Once the obstacles were overcome, players again were treated to a very unique world to explore with a totally awesome jumping tank. The game’s soundtrack is also worth noting, as it ranks among the coolest on the Genesis. Thankfully, despite the poor sales of both this game and the strange offshoot Blaster Master: Boy for the Game Boy, Sunsoft has tried to revive the franchise several more times. The Game Boy Color and PlayStation saw their own Blaster Master games in late 2000, and there was a new WiiWare game released just this year called Blaster Master: Overdrive. With Sunsoft providing so much recent support to the Wii Virtual Console, it would be great to see them dust this game off for one more ride.
If you ever find yourself with a Sega Genesis connected to your television, it would be worth the effort to track this game down. There is almost nothing like it out there, and experiences this unique, good or bad, are almost always worth your time. Blaster Master 2 may be strange, but it has a lot to offer.