Thursday, February 2, 2012

Game of the Day - Blaster

Blaster is an old-school, first-person space shooter.  You are in the cockpit of your ship and a wide array of enemies are coming at you - so blast away.

Actually, Blaster was the follow-up to Robotron 2084 - which is interesting because it did not attain near the fame or following or Robotron despite it being a very solid and enjoyable game (although admittedly, Robotron was a hard act to follow).  The controls are simple, a joystick flies your ship, and you have two buttons: fire and thrust.  Thrust isn't necessary, it is just used to speed up (if you want).
When you start you get to choose which level you start on.  There are levels with all different kinds of enemies and levels where the goals are different.  Some levels you have to blast all the enemies.  In one level, you have to kill a certain ship in an armada EITHER first or last - if you don't, the armada just reforms and comes at you again - very interesting.  In other levels, you have to fly thru obstacles (while still killing various enemies).  And in some others, you have to catch/retrieve floating astronauts.  There are 20 levels in all before it repeats (18 of the levels are 9 different levels repeated twice and then there are two levels you play once).  In fact, in the end you get to a level called "Paradise" - don't know what it is, haven't seen it yet.  Also, as you progress, enemies from other levels join in the fun on your current level, so there is a cumulative effect to whom you are battling.

Each life you get is worth three hits.  You have a shield indicator, but it really just counts down the first two hits and then shows that you no longer have a shield and thus, the third hit kills you.  That's for each life you get in the game.

There is some nice scoring programming here also (for the time).  For instance, each level has several groups of different kinds of enemies.  You get a bonus for each group you completely annihilate (as opposed to just avoiding them).  So it matters who you kill.  As they fly by you, try to kill all of the same kind of enemy - that's what earns you the bonus.  You also get a super bonus for killing everything during the wave - good luck with that.

There is also a continue feature that allows you not only continue from where you are, but also to keep your score. 

Lastly, when you launch and play the game, you'll be treated to some nice, familiar sounds.   Williams loved to recycle their game sounds.  You'll hear stuff from Joust/Defender/Robotron.  While it's a little weird (money????) that they did this throughout the games of this era (including some pinball machines) - it is enjoyable and like comfort food to hear them.

UPDATE: I just played some more and want to correct a few things... the controls are actually analog - it was originally a 49-way joystick.  So you can use an Xbox analog stick or trackball or other to play, but I still prefer the standard 8-way js on my rig.  Also, there is another (original) version of the game with 30 levels -  not 20.  One other small correction, on the saucer level you have to shoot the red saucer first or last like I wrote above, but that does NOT end the level, you simply get more points each time you do it.  Last, each new version of a certain level (they repeat) is MUCH busier than previous iterations.  Great game.

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