Monday, February 21, 2011

S.O.P.H.I.A. Is One Bad Chick: A Look Back At Blaster Master

It has been said that Japanese publishers are fairly nervous about what they bring to the US market, and we typically miss out on some gems in the process of that apprehension. One game that successfully broke that mold and became more popular in the US than it was in Japan was Sunsoft's Blaster Master (Chô Wakusei Senki Metafight in Japan). since the story was told through a few short cut scenes, it was easy to rework the story to make it more palatable
to gamers outside of Japan, and they changed the game's title. With Blaster Master, Sunsoft effectively created a game the size of Metroid, that was also linear like Super Mario Bros, and had a challenge in spots that was on par with Mega Man. Sunsoft unsuspectingly localized a been there, done that, game like Metafight into gaming history and created one of the 8 Bit generations biggest cult hits. The gameplay in Blaster is pretty straightforward. The game is broken into 8 levels that can only be entered after acquiring an item from the previous levels boss. The playfield takes place in side scrolling areas where the player will control Jason's Tank, S.O.P.H.I.A., or they can make Jason exit the tank to get to harder to reach areas. Interior ares where boss battles take place. During the course of the game, S.O.P.H.I.A. will gain new weapons and abilities, like the ability to hover and fire homing missiles. The boss fights are all pretty much the same save for a few different attacks the bosses do, but they all fall with enough shots from Jason's gun or grenades. Sunsoft has tried over the years to capitalize on the long standing popularity of Blaster Master by releasing a port of Hudson's Bomberman as Blaster Master Boy on the original Gameboy, they released a sequel called Blaster Master 2 on the Sega Genesis, a 3D update called Blaster Master: Blasting Again on the Sony Playstation, Blaster Master: Enemy Below on the Game Boy Color, and Blaster Master Overdrive, a remake of the original game, for Nintendo's WiiWare service. Thankfully though, Nintendo's Virtual Console service and they high popularity of the original game have made it quite plentiful if you happen to be looking for a copy.

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