Video Game / Blaster Master

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The heartwarming tale of a boy and his tank. The girl is new.

Blaster Master is a series of action-adventure games created by Sunsoft. The first game, released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1988, is recognized as one of the classics for the system. It's originally known as Chou Wakusei Senki (Super Planetary War Chronicle) - Metafight when released for Famicom system in the same year, which had a totally different and loosely put story that existed only in the game's manual. Blaster Master was more popular, and most of the sequels were based on the NES version, and designed for Western fans.

The game (and the series) starts off with a young kid named Jason and his pet frog Fred. One day, Fred jumps out of his fishbowl and out of the house and onto a crate containing radioactive materials, which cause the frog to grow larger than Jason. When Fred and the crate fall into a large hole in the ground, Jason decides to jump in after him. Once down the hole, he finds a giant armored vehicle called SOPHIA THE 3RD, which was designed to fight radioactive mutants living Beneath the Earth. He puts on a combat suit and gets inside the vehicle on his way to find his pet frog and to destroy the mutants' leader - the Plutonium Boss.

During the game, Jason will traverse the overworld in his vehicle, and will have to search for the boss of each area by exiting the vehicle and entering doors filled with traps, enemies, and power-ups. Defeating bosses will give his vehicle new abilities (such as the power to shoot down walls, hover, or swim quickly through water), which will become necessary to get to other areas.

This series is comprised of:
  1. Blaster Master (NES, and Wii and 3DS Virtual Console)
  2. Blaster Master 2 (Sega Genesis)
  3. Blaster Master Boy (Game Boy)note 
  4. Blaster Master: Enemy Below (Game Boy Color, and 3DS Virtual Console)
  5. Blaster Master: Blasting Again (PlayStation)
  6. Blaster Master Overdrive (WiiWare)
  7. Blaster Master Zero (Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Switch, developed by Inti Creates)

There was also a Worlds of Power novelization of the first game, written by Peter Lerangis (under the pen name A. L. Singer). Elements from the novel were used in Blasting Again and Zero, making it the only novel in the series to become canon.

Blaster Master does not, by the way, run Bartertown.

Blaster Master provides examples of:

  • 100% Completion: In Zero, it's how you get the Golden Ending, which requires collecting all area maps, life ups, weapons, and maneuvers, and defeating all bosses.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The Worlds of Power novel adds Eve, a girl from another planet, as the original owner of the SOPHIA III vehicle. These details would later become canon in Blasting Again.
  • All There in the Manual: The backstory of Blasting Again, specifically the character of Eve and the origin of the Plutonium Boss, does not appear in any of the previous games. It does, however, appear in the Worlds of Power novelization of the original Blaster Master, making it the only Worlds of Power novel to be canon.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The grenades in Blasting Again look great coming out, but they're nigh useless on mooks that aren't clustered together due to their triangular placement. Enemy Below's grenades also have a pathetically short range.
    • In Zero, there's the Acceleration Cannon. It's a powerful Wave Motion Gun capable of even taking down bosses in one shot, but it requires all of SOPHIA III's weapon energy, takes a long time to charge, and getting hit will interupt the charge.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The series has a lot of maggots crawling on the floor.
  • Boss Warning Siren: In the NES game, after entering a Boss Room, the screen begins to repeatedly flash as an alert siren stops the music, before fading out the screen completely and revealing the boss. Intrestingly, you can leave the room just before the screen fades out completely.
  • Broad Strokes: Blaster Master Zero uses the Blaster Master title, character names, main plot, and so on, and has a backstory and feel more akin to Metafight.
  • Broken Bridge: The layout of the game is nonlinear, but various obstacles railroad you through the levels in a specific order, eg. locked doors (between Stage 4 and 5), gravity barriers, (need Hover, Dive, or Wall powers), insurmountable waist height fences (some barriers are indestructible until you're powered up), and beef gates (the Mini-Boss between Stages 1 and 2 is unbeatable until you get the Hyper upgrade).
  • Bubble Gun: The crab boss from the original game spits bubbles, and fires more as it gets low on health.
  • Chain Reaction Destruction: Bosses in the series have more explosive components than common sense would assume.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: In Zero's Nintendo Switch version, Player 2 has an "Assist" role, moving a target cursor around the screen to provide cover fire, use an exclusive sub-weapon, and drop recovery items for Player 1.
  • Continuity Reboot: Overdrive was billed as a "re-imagining" when announced, but certain details within the game suggest that it's a prequel.
  • Convection Schmonvection: 7th area, 1st game; and the third area of Blaster Master 2.
  • Cool Car: The S.O.P.H.I.A., in all of its incarnations.
  • Cores and Turrets Boss: Photophage, the third boss of the first game.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: The final boss of Blasting Again is defeated in this way, using a superweapon that the player is never told about beforehand and that cannot be used in game.
  • Death from Above: The final on-foot subweapon in Zero allows you to mark up to 15 targets in the room and remotely control SOPHIA to deliver an artillery strike on them.
  • Downer Ending: If you defeat the final boss in Zero without having defeated every other boss and obtained all area maps, life ups, weapons, and mobility upgrades, the ending scene after the credits roll shows Eve inside of SOPHIA III, about to sacrifice herself to destroy the Mutant Core. Which you find out in the Golden Ending wouldn't have worked.
  • Down the Drain: Stage 4 in the first game and in Enemy Below.
  • Drill Tank: An upgrade turns the S.O.P.H.I.A. into one in both Blaster Master 2 and Overdrive. Also, the second boss of stage 2 in Blaster Master 2.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Big Bad of Enemy Below, a towering amoeba that's about half of the GB's screen.
  • Energy Beings / Shapeshifting: The Lightning Beings from Blaster Master 2 and Blasting Again. Blasting Again reveals that they're Eve's species; survivors from when the Plutonium Boss destroyed their world.
  • Episode 0: The Beginning: Zero is a remake of the NES game.
  • Eternal Engine: Area 3 of the first game and in Enemy Below.
  • Evolving Weapon: Jason's gun, and the S.O.P.H.I.A.'s main cannon with the Hyper and Crusher upgrades.
  • Excuse Plot: The first game: Jason is simply out to catch his irradiated mutant pet frog and stumbles upon a mobile tank, which he uses to defeat demons from the underground.
  • Eyeless Face: The frog bosses in the first game have mouths, but no eyes.
  • Falling Damage: If Jason falls his own maximum jumping height or less, he takes no damage. One block more than that deals one point of damage (and adds a hilarious 'bounce'), and one block more than that is fatal (unless he lands in water).
  • Falling into the Cockpit: In Blaster Master (NES), a boy finds an armored tank lying around and is able to drive it.
  • Flash of Pain: Enemies which take multiple hits to kill, tend to briefly change color when damaged.
  • Foreshadowing: One of the very first enemies you come across in Area 1 in the first game will provide you with a power-up to fuel your Hover gauge. This would be a mystery to new players, since Sophia doesn't even have a Hover gauge at this time, and won't get one until the end of Area 3. Remembering this fact can help players find the entrance to Area 4 on the cliff above the place they started the game.
  • Gaiden Game: Blaster Master Boy, a Dolled-Up Installment of Bomber King 2.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: The fifth boss of the first game, the 3rd and 6th bosses of the 2nd game, and the 1st and 3rd bosses of Overdrive.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The Final Boss battle in the first game. After you defeat the Plutonium Boss, your true final opponent is...some armored knight with a plasma whip.
  • Golden Ending: Zero has a true ending which can be achieved after the player has collected all area maps, life ups, weapons, and maneuvers, and defeated all bosses. Eve leaves Jason and Fred to destroy the Mutant Core all by herself, using SOPHIA III's self-destruct function to achieve this. Things don't go as planned, however, since the Mutant Core possesses SOPHIA III and turns it into Invem SOPHIA, while also restraining Eve inside. Jason, with the aid of Fred, comes to her rescue and destroys the Invem SOPHIA with the SOPHIA Zero, ending the mutant threat for good.
  • Graphics-Induced Super-Deformed: In the first game at least. The protagonist is in rather normal proportions in cutscenes but in game he looks like a toy.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: An early upgrade for SOPHIA in Overdrive.
  • Grimy Water: Present in Blaster Master 2.
    • Droplets and small pools of water will damage not only Jason but SOPHIA as well. As an immediate subversion, Stage 5 is a completely submerged level that's harmless, but all encounters with water after this level are of the grimy variety again.
    • The water in the overhead areas of Stage 4 also counts.
  • Guide Dang It: A very strange example in Zero: during the New Game+, you're told that in order to access Area 9, you need to fulfill the same requirements you did in during the first playthrough, ie. collect all items in the game before defeating the final boss. However, the game says nothing about having to collect all the items in Area 9 as well, leading you to believe that you can just head straight to the end without opposition, but chances are that when you head to that location, you're greeted with a distorted, staticky doorway you can't enter. This naturally leads you to believe that you need to collect all items in Area 9 as well to make the doorway useable, but this does nothing to remedy the situation. The solution? Turn on the Receiver that you have no use for in a New Game+ since you already know your way around and which defaults to off, and the door suddenly becomes useable again. To add even more insult to injury in case you went through the trouble of collecting all Area 9 items for the second time, all 3 barriers behind the door that you needed to find the keys for are already open.
  • Guest Fighter: Gunvolt appears in Zero as a DLC character.
  • Hubcap Hovercraft: The Sophia 3rd is a prime example.
  • Indie Game: Zero is both developed and published by Inti Creates.
  • In-Vehicle Invulnerability: The protagonists and their vehicles have separate health bars. In some of the games (notably the original) it's possible for the driver to restore his health by exiting and re-entering the vehicle.
  • Lava is Boiling Kool-Aid: Both in Blaster Master and in Enemy Below. Area 7's overhead stages use recoloured water from the first Blaster Master game as lava. Touching it deals two points of health damage.
  • Lethal Lava Land:
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: A recurring theme in Blasting Again.
  • The Lost Woods: Stage 1, first game.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Spiked pillars in the overhead stages in Enemy Below.
  • Metroidvania: It was this type of game before the subgenre became popular.
  • Minimalist Cast: Zero has Jason, Eve, and Fred as the only named major characters.
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: Enemy Below has new maps, weapons, gameplay and bosses, but similar graphics and music to the NES game.
  • Mirror Matches: A Boss Battle in Overdrive, which ends in a shout out to the Gaiden Game in a Make My Monster Grow moment.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Kane Gardner, the protagonist of Metafight, gets mentioned by name in the true ending of Zero.
    • Likewise, the title of the second form of the final boss is "The Ultimate Metafight".
    • Eve is full of them. Her model number, NORA-2057, is a combination of the alternate name for Metal Attacker, the year Metafight took place, 2052, and the game's release year of 2017, her design is based on Dr. Jennifer Cornet from Metafight, and she reveals in one optional dialogue after she reveals her origins to you that SOPHIA III is named after the planet she was created on — in Metafight, Sophia III was the name of the planet, not the vehicle.
  • New Game+: After achieving the true ending in Zero, you can replay the game in Ultimate Mode, which starts you out with SOPHIA Zero and all area maps and upgrades unlocked, and lets you freely explore the game.
  • Nintendo Hard: The Blaster Master games are quite challenging, even if you've gotten used to playing them and can get to the later levels with ease. One difference between Blaster Master and Meta Fight: The end of level 4 in BM was a platforming segment to unlock a door. The end of level 4 in MF required you to jump off a cliff and catch yourself on a single tile of ladder to unlock a door! Alternately, you could aim for the lock on the way down but this kills you in the process.
  • Novelization: Scholastic Publishing wrote a book based on the game as part of its Worlds of Power series. While it takes several liberties with the plot of the first game, parts of it were elevated into canon for Blasting Again, particularly the character of Eve (who becomes Jason's wife and the mother of his children, Roddy and Elfie).
  • One-Winged Angel: In Zero, the Mutant Lord transforms into a flaming elemental being, the Multidimensional Overlord, after the first phase of the fight.
  • Palette Swap: Bosses two and six in the first game are similar in appearance, as are bosses four and seven (which may explain why the grenade glitch (see Pause Scumming below) only seems to work on them.
  • Pause Scumming: In the first game, it's possible to beat some of the bosses by hitting them with grenades and pausing at the right moment. If you do it right, the boss will keep taking damage while paused.
  • Power-Up Letdown:
    • The upgrades for Jason's gun in Enemy Below. He can only collect three, but good luck collecting more than one due to losing them quickly to enemy attacks.
    • And in Blasting Again, where the max weapon upgrade transforms your gun into a largely useless short-range flamethrower.
  • Purposefully Overpowered: Compared to SOPHIA III, SOPHIA Zero is most definitely this: it starts with all of SOPHIA III's upgrades and all of them are vastly superior to III's weaponry. To list a few examples, it can shoot 5 regular shots at a time instead of 3, none of its weapons other than Acceleration Cannon need to be charged up first, all of its weapons and abilities other than AC consume less SP to use and most of its weapons are superior in some way in ways other than the lack of need to charge them first, such as Cannon Shot's lack of Friendly Fire and a much larger explosion, Laser acting like an actual piercing beam with hitscan properties, Thunder Breaker having a much larger area of effect below Zero and Shield Mine functioning more like an actual shield instead of Deployable Cover.
  • Real Is Brown: In Overdrive.
  • Rescue Arc: The premise of the Golden Ending in Zero, where Jason, with Fred and SOPHIA Zero's aid, goes to save Eve after she leaves him to take out the Mutant Core by herself.
  • Retraux: Zero is an 8-bit rehash of the original NES game.
  • Run or Die: In Zero, the first half of the True Final Boss puts you in this situation. On foot, you're faced with the Invem SOPHIA - which is to say, SOPHIA III, possessed by the Mutant Core. The only thing you can do is dodge its attacks and haul ass out of there and back to SOPHIA Zero, at which point the actual boss fight starts. You can still deal Scratch Damage to it before it blasts open the boss room door you escaped through and during your escape from it and said damage stays with it to the actual boss fight, but there's no way to actually destroy it during the escape sequence.
  • Shielded Core Boss: The Area 6 boss in Overdrive. Damaging the boss's feet eventually disables it, leaving its core vulnerable to attack for a short time.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The sixth areas of the first game and Overdrive.
  • Soft Water: On land, Jason is subjected to Falling Damage when outside SOPHIA III. However, he's perfectly safe if he lands in water, even from heights far exceeding what would normally be fatal.
  • Sound of No Damage: Hit an invulnerable (part of) enemy? That sound is heard in that case.
  • Spikes of Doom: Everywhere in the last area in the original and in Enemy Below.
  • Stationary Boss: The Plutonium Boss of the first game. Only its head moves around.
  • The Stinger: The cutscene after the credits roll in the Downer Ending of Zero shows Eve inside of SOPHIA III, about to sacrifice herself to destroy the Mutant Core.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: In the "overworld" sections, Jason has no problem swimming through water — much more so than S.O.P.H.I.A. until it gets the "Dive" upgrade. Inverted in the "on-foot" sections of Areas 4 and 7, where falling into water/lava means instant death.
  • Temple of Doom: Stage 2 of the original.
  • True Final Boss: The Invem SOPHIA in Zero.
  • Turns Red: The crab boss from the first game fires more and more bullets at you as you damage it, and the Photophage's turrets move faster as more are destroyed.
  • Under the Sea: The fifth areas in the first and second games, as well as the 'Water' area in Blasting Again.
  • Underwater Ruins: 5th area, 1st game. Some turquoise pillars.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake:
    • You get a weapon upgrade for your tank which allows you to blow away certain walls, which will respawn after a couple of seconds. However, should you get out of your tank and walk through the passage, once it respawns you have no way to get back to your tank. Also, since you can't shoot downward, you won't be able to go back in any case when blocks respawn below you. There are a number of places where you also can't kill yourself, leaving you totally trapped, forcing you to reset.
    • This even applies to a single specific dungeon in Zero: even though you can select "Retry" from the pause menu to respawn you back to your last save point and all savepoints let you summon SOPHIA to you in case you get seperated, one dungeon entrance in Area 8 is located in a room with gel blocks in the middle of the room. Since the game autosaves when you enter a dungeon and you can't destroy gel blocks with your Blaster Rifle shots, you can get stuck permanently if you make the mistake of leaving SOPHIA where the gel blocks were and enter the dungeon: this autosaves your game and respawns the blocks, leaving SOPHIA stuck inside a gel block that you can't destroy, making it inaccessible.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss:
    • The first boss of Overdrive. Only Alex's grenade launcher can reliably strike its weak point, and it has barely enough range to avoid touching the boss in the process.
    • Enemy Below's second boss teaches you why dodging is useful.
    • Same for the first boss of the original.
  • Wall Crawl:
    • In the first game, you can get two "Wall" upgrades - one that lets you cling to and drive up walls, and another that lets you transfer from walls to ceilings. This makes the Hover powerup almost useless outside of very specific situations where there are no walls nearby to climb.
    • The two upgrades have been merged into a single upgrade in Zero.
  • Womb Level: The final stage of the first game, may appear in others.
  • Yellow Lightning, Blue Lightning: The lightning attack in Blaster Master is definitely the yellow variety. Subsequent games have moved directly to blue lightning.
  • Zerg Rush: The Final Boss of Overdrive.

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