Blast from the Past: Blaster Master (NES)

Retro Review


A true blast from the past. Blaster Master is definitely one of those platformers that will blast players out of their seats and directly into a hydraulic super jumping tank. Yes I said tank! Dominic Toretto and The Fast and the Furious cast have nothing on this vehicle warfare.

One of my favorite features from the game is the fact that players can exit their tanks, allowing the player to take their adventure further on foot.

Blaster Master puts players in the shoes of a young man who unfortunately loses his pet frog. Following his frog down a hole in the earth, he discovers a tank and to no ones surprise decides to take it (yes, in South Africa the “terminology” to some seems to be if you find something it is yours, even if the car or home is locked). A tank that will assist him in battling what I believe are robots but after a bit of research I’ve found that the enemies are in fact radioactive mutants.

Although Blaster Master in essence is a platformer I felt that the tank itself was well animated, especially during jump actions across platforms. The tank can shoot both right, left and up into the sky and also has a multitude of upgrades. One of my favorite features from the game is the fact that players can exit their tanks, allowing the player to take their adventure further on foot. Some areas actually force the player to do so as proceeding on foot is the only option. This of course changes the formula of the game from a 2D platformer to a top down shooter.

I’m going deeper underground

Blaster Master’s levels are designed with platforms placed perfectly in the tank’s reach but also tests the players judgement at times creating the illusion of a greater distance. The back drop images are well placed, creating the appearance of an underground world filled with life. However this confused me a little at times as some backdrops gave the illusion as if I were above ground in a mountain¬†area…there are mountains underground, right? Of course when players are forced to exit their tanks the levels became a little different turning the 2D platforming levels into a 3D maze type area.

Enemies can often be dispatched with one or two projectiles from the tank but on foot that is a little tougher to accomplish. Enemies can approach the player from land or air with some even firing projectiles at the player. The boss enemies are confronted without the tank. However there are power ups for the tank and the main character during the course of the game that will make taking on enemies easier and the fact that the game forces the player to back track through levels at times, these upgrades assist greatly.

All in all Blaster Master is a must play for all platforming fans. The music is superb in each area giving off that motivational upbeat heroic symphony and sometimes the dreaded dark tones when confronted with the boss enemies. It was quite comforting that the developers didn’t add a timer to the game as I often found myself wandering off the main path and hitting a dead end only having to backtrack to the middle of the level to proceed once again. This Blast from the Past packs a punch.


  • Level design
  • Music
  • 2D & 3D top down perspective


Platforming mixed with top-down shooting in mazes will keep you enthralled as you hunt for power-ups and explore the underground for your lost pet frog.


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