Video Game / Blaster Master

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

"Mutant scum never learn! Blaster Master is back!"
Blaster Master Zero tagline

Chou Wakusei Senki (Super Planetary War Chronicle) - Metafight is a series of action-adventure games originally created by Sunsoft.

It's the year 2052. On the distant planet Sophia the 3rd located in the Epsilon Milky Way, a flourishing advanced civilization is suddenly attacked by the evil emperor Goez and his "Invem Dark Star Cluster" army of mutants, who have conquered every other planet in outer space. The only survivors of the raid are a small sect of the local Science Academy known as "Nora Satellite", who escape and decide to build a weapon to defeat the Invem Dark Star Cluster and Goez. With the help of designer Dr. Jennifer Cornet, they create an all-purpose mobile tank known as Metal Attacker, and enlist a young man by the name of Kane Gardner to pilot Metal Attacker and destroy Goez.

... At least, that's the Excuse Plot if you live in Japan and bothered to read the manual. If you lived anywhere else, the game was called Blaster Master and followed the (frankly ridiculous) story of Jason Frudnick, a high school senior on (then) modern-day Earth who finds a frog and names him Fred. One day, Fred jumps out of his fishbowl and out of the house and onto a crate containing radioactive materials, which causes 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.

As one might be able to tell, the localized Blaster Master was far more successful than its original Metafight counterpart, due in part to its then-innovative gameplay that did Metroidvania years before Castlevania: Symphony of the Night made the subgenre popular, as well as the rockin' tunes, and is now considered a Cult Classic for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The series proceeded to spawn a line of sequels primarily based on the localized NES version, including one made by a UK developer that was only released in North America, although none of them could quite live up to the original game in terms of success.

Following the release of Overdrive in 2010, the series went dormant for several years until 2016, when Inti Creates (of Megaman Zero and Azure Striker Gunvolt fame) announced that they had acquired the license from Sunsoft and were planning to release a pseudo-remake/reboot of the original game known as Blaster Master Zero, which was released in 2017.

This series is comprised of:
  1. Chou Wakusei Senki — Metafight/Blaster Master (NES, and Wii and 3DS Virtual Console)
  2. Blaster Master 2 (Sega Genesis)
  3. Blaster Master Boy (Game Boy)note 
  4. Metafight EX/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.
    • Zero's reimagining of the original adds a lot more meat to the original Excuse Plot.
  • All the Worlds Are a Stage: One of the keys in Area 9 of Zero requires navigating a maze of photo-negative versions of parts of previous Areas.
  • 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.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • In Zero, as of Version 1.2, exiting specific dungeons will cause the SOPHIA III to automatically respawn at the dungeon entrance. This is to ensure the player does not accidentally run into a Unwinnable by Mistake scenario in which the player left the SOPHIA III behind (or inside) a block that requires the Crusher upgrade to break, only to find out that they inadvertently trapped themselves when the blocks respawn.
    • In EX Character Mode, some puzzles that require specific Pilot and SOPHIA III abilities are changed to be solvable by the EX Character's inherent abilities. For example, in a Gunvolt playthrough, Dragonsphere can light up unlit dungeons and break walls, and Cerberus and Flashfield have built-in Crusher functionality, which allows you to do some Sequence Breaking early on.
    • In Destroyer Mode, almost every enemy is at least vulnerable to your standard Gun, the Blaster, so you aren't totally screwed if you happen to lose all your Gun Levels. There are a select few that aren't, but they can still be destroyed with Subweapons.
  • Art Shifted Sequel: Zero is very Animesque in nature, due in part to Inti Creates handling it.
  • 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.
  • Barrier Change Boss: The Final Boss of Zero, the Multidimensional Overlord, will change colors; the color of the boss indicates what Gun he is weak to.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The series has a lot of maggots crawling on the floor.
  • Bookends: In Zero, SOPHIA III's startup sequence is replicated at the very end of the game with SOPHIA Zero right before the True Final Boss fight.
  • Boss Rush: All of the dungeons in Zero's Area 9 consist solely of boss rushes.
  • Boss Subtitles: In Zero, the appearance of a boss is prefixed with some descriptor title before showing the proper name of the boss.
  • 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.
    • Warnings also appear in Zero, with added Boss Subtitles. Unlike the NES game, however, the room doesn't darken, and you don't have an opportunity to quickly retreat, not that you have much of a reason to since there's always a Save Point before the boss room.
  • Broad Strokes: While Zero uses the same base premise as the original game, the plot is more directly inspired by Metafight and uses the character of Eve from Blasting Again.
  • 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: Hard Shell in both the original and Zero spits bubbles, and fires more as it gets low on health.
  • Calling Your Attacks: In Zero, using the Acceleration Blast on the Skeleton Boss will prompt a special line of dialogue where Jason screams "ACCELERATION BLAST!" before unleashing it on the Skeleton Boss for a One-Hit Kill.
  • The Cameo: Lumen appears in Gunvolt's playthrough, who grants him Voltaic Chains when approached. She is located on a midair platform in Area 1, which requires Wall Climb to reach.
  • Chain Reaction Destruction: Bosses in the series have more explosive components than common sense would assume.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The opening of Zero makes a rather unusual side note about a comet coming in contact with Earth around the time humanity began to rebuild on the surface, which is never brought up again. Later on, Jason deduces that since the mutants have been around for hundreds of years, it is possible that the comet that struck the Earth carried the mutants to the planet.
  • Composite Character: Inverted in Zero, with the Plutonium Boss being split up into the kaiju scale Skeleton Boss and the armored Underworld Lord.
  • 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 SOPHIA, in all of its incarnations.
  • Cores and Turrets Boss: Photophage, the third boss of the first game, which leaves clones of itself around the room that quickly become indestructible until they attack again if you can't destroy them quickly enough. Zero has multiple ones: in addition to Photophage, there's Remote Blaster which combines this with Crosshair Aware and Ancient Freeze, which is an entire room filled with them, with the latter two throwing Frictionless Ice into the mix.
  • Corridor Cubbyhole Run: The final overworld segment in Zero involves driving down an enormous weapons barrel while ducking into gaps to avoid the giant lasers that fire periodically.
  • 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 Is a Slap on the Wrist: In Zero. Dying simply sets you back to the last Retry Point or autosave. Retry Points and autosaves are so ridiculously common that dying simply sets you back a few minutes of gameplay with no other penalty, since this game removed the finite lives system that made the previous games so difficult. You're gonna embrace this system in Destroyer Mode for all it's worth.
  • 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.
  • Deflector Shields: In Zero, Gun Level 5 is Energy Shield, which generates a green barrier that deflects shots. Enemy projectiles that come into contact with it will turn green and be fired back at the enemy for some damage, but if you press the Shoot button right before the shot hits, the incoming projectile will be deflected as a stronger wave projectile that deals massive damage.
  • Degraded Boss: In Zero's Area 9, the Skeleton Boss appears twice; once in which it can be killed in a few seconds by SOPHIA Zero, and once as an obstacle that you must avoid as Jason.
  • 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.
  • Downloadable Content: Zero's EX Characters can be purchased as DLC for $1.99 USD. However, for the first two weeks after release, all EX Characters can also be downloaded permanently for free, so you can play as the EX Characters for no additional charge if you grab it while it's hot.
  • Down the Drain: Stage 4 in the first game, Enemy Below, and Zero.
  • Drill Tank: An upgrade turns the SOPHIA into one in both Blaster Master 2 and Overdrive. Also, the second boss of stage 2 in Blaster Master 2.
  • Dual Boss: The dungeon that houses the map for Area 9 in Zero requires you to fight one Mother Brain, followed by two Mother Brains, to acquire it.
  • Early Game Hell: In Zero's Destroyer Mode. Gun upgrades hardly drop or are rare to find, and most enemies are immune to your stronger guns anyways; a good chunk of early game enemies can only be damaged with your peashooter, which you'll quickly find extremely annoying. You can dump Grenades on them to wear them down faster, but you only have so many of them.
  • Energy Beings: The Lightning Beings from Blaster Master 2 and Blasting Again.
  • 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 SOPHIA'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).
    • Averted with the Guest Fighters in Zero.
  • 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 both the original and Zero, Jason (and EX Characters in Zero) look like toys compared to their actual designs when in the overworld and in dungeons.
  • 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.
    • In Zero the main sources of harmful water is the pink water seen in stage 2/3 (dungeons) and area 5's dungeons. Water elsewhere merely hinders SOPHIA's mobility (until getting the dive upgrade).
  • Guest Fighter: Zero has EX Characters Mode, which allows players to play the game in full using special characters that aren't Jason, such as Gunvolt from Azure Striker Gunvolt and Ekoro from Gal*Gun. Uniquely, every EX Character has character-specific abilities and moves, and playing as an EX Character also adds certain aesthetic changes, such as changing the SOPHIA III's color and the appearance of certain power-ups, such as Gunvolt changing the health pickups into the capsules found in his home game.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Killed Off for Real: In Zero, only after the destruction of the Invem SOPHIA (and by extension, the Mutant Core) does the mutant threat end for good.
  • Kill It with Fire: In Zero Gun Level 7 is a flamethrower with short range and scatter. While most players would immediately think "useless," there's a very good reason it's the second most powerful setting for the Blaster Rifle. Enemies that get hit continue taking burn damage which adds up quickly. More importantly, the flamethrower can clear away the blue rocks in the Waterworks Area dungeons and melt the floor ice and ice spikes in the Glacier Area dungeons. It also doesn't hurt that in Zero you can now switch between the Gun Levels you have.
  • 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.
  • Leap of Faith:
    • In Metafight, the final section of Area 4 required you to jump straight off a cliff and attempt to catch a single tile of ladder you can't see until you're already on the way down in order to access the lock needed get to Area 5. Alternately, you could just aim for the lock but this kills you in the process. Understandably, this specific room was changed for Blaster Master into a simple platforming section involving ladders.
    • The Metafight version of the room is brought back for Zero, but is made significantly easier, in addition to the removal of limited lives.
  • 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.
  • Mana Meter:
    • The SOPHIA III's subweapon gauge serves as this; it's consumed when performing specific actions such as using Subweapons and special maneuvers, and refills gradually over time.
    • Zero's Gunvolt and Ekoro have Subweapon gauge replacements that function this way. Gunvolt has the EP Meter, and Ekoro has the Heart Gauge.
  • 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 Boss: Invem SOPHIA, the True Final Boss of Zero.
  • 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: Everywhere in Zero in regards to Metafight.
    • The room in Area 4 that contains the lock to unlock Area 5 uses a combination of the infamous Leap of Faith from Metafight and the revised platforming version from Blaster Master. Jason has to jump off a cliff and catch himself on a segment of ladder, which allows him to access a series of ladders that lead to the lock. Unlike Metafight, there is a broken ladder in the background that tells you where the ladder you need to catch is, and the ladder is a few tiles long instead of being a single tile.
    • Kane Gardner and Dr. Jennifer Cornet under the name "Dr. Jennifer Gardner" from Metafight are mentioned at the very end of the game, revealed to be the creators of the SOPHIA Zero and Eve.
    • 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.
    • The True Final Boss, Invem SOPHIA, is named after the mutant army from Metafight, the "Invem Dark Star Cluster".
  • 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 original NES game is notoriously difficult. Nine lives max, with no passwords or save points. If you get a game over, have fun starting from the very beginning in a Metroidvania.
    • Zero added Destroyer Mode in Version 1.2, unlocked after completing the game, which greatly increases difficulty: Energy Guard is useless, Life Ups are functionally redundant and only refill you to max health, enemies are overall tankier, overworld enemies fire death bullets at you when you kill them, and dungeon enemies can only be destroyed with specific Guns or with Subweapons. As an added bonus, dungeon enemies with projectile attacks can now shoot through walls.
  • No Fair Cheating: Attempting to use the Acceleration Cannon against the True Final Boss of Zero will cause it to just leave until you fire the thing, after which it comes back.
    • The Final Boss can't be harmed by the wave gun, forcing you to fight it in the proper fashion (attacking it with like colored weapons)
  • No Kill Like Overkill: If you get hit by Invem SOPHIA's Acceleration Cannon, you're toast. Even Prevasion in EX Characters Mode won't save you.
  • 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). Eve also was added to Zero.
  • Offscreen Start Bonus: In Zero, when you're dropped off in Area 9, it isn't immediately apparent that one of the Keys you're looking for requires you to go left. When you spawn at the left side of the stage, a player's first instinct is to typically go right assuming that the area behind them is a wall. Thankfully, getting the Area Map makes this clear.
  • One-Winged Angel: In Zero, the Mutant Lord transforms into a flaming elemental being, the Multidimensional Overlord, after the first phase of the fight.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: In Zero, instead of just jumping down any regular hole, Fred jumps down a wormhole, which just so happens to lead to the SOPHIA III. Late in the game, it's revealed that Fred can generate wormholes that link roughly to the location of a connected SOPHIA unit. This is what allows him to transport the SOPHIA Zero to Jason, as well as take Jason to the Alternate Dimension where the possessed SOPHIA III is.
  • 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.
    • In Zero, playing as EX Characters will change the SOPHIA III's appearance to match the character being played. For example, when playing as Gunvolt, the SOPHIA III becomes yellow and blue. Destroyer Mode also gives SOPHIA and Jason a grey color palette.
  • 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.
  • Playing Tennis with the Boss: In Destroyer Mode, Venom Master is actually immune to everything you can possibly throw at it, except Energy Shield. This means you spend the entire fight deflecting projectiles at the boss to kill it.
  • 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: The Infinity+1 Sword in Zero. The SOPHIA Zero, which is obtained right before the final level, is vastly superior to the SOPHIA III in terms of capabilities, possessing amped-up weapons and subweapons, reduced SP costs, and all charge times have been removed except for the Acceleration Blast. Jason infers that this is because Fred was feeding back data about their adventure to its home planet, which allowed the original creators of the SOPHIA III to develop an even stronger successor to eliminate the mutants.
  • 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 made on 8-bit graphics to invoke the original game. However, the animations far exceed what 8-bit graphics are typically capable of.
  • 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 since it stops taking damage after you deplete around 30% of its health or so.
  • Sequel Difficulty Drop: Zero is oft considered the easiest game in the series. Autosaves and Retry Points are scattered almost everywhere, and Death Is a Slap on the Wrist, since you are no longer bound to a life count. In spite of this, Destroyer Mode is still aggravatingly difficult.
  • Sequence Breaking: In Zero, EX Characters Mode has a lot of potential for this because of the special abilities the EX Characters get and the levels being designed around Jason and SOPHIA III. Gunvolt's Prevasion is especially egregious in this case, since its damage negation allows him to take shortcuts through obstacles that would typically kill Jason or SOPHIA III, such as the big spike traps in Area 6.
  • Shapeshifting: Blasting Again reveals that the Lightning Beings are Eve's species; survivors from when the Plutonium Boss destroyed their world.
  • 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.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Gun Level 3 (Diffusion) in Zero.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The protagonist and his frog are named Jason and Fred...
    • In Zero, the weapon obtained for reaching Gun Level 6 is the "Striker", which fires an orb that turns into Chain Lightning on impact. Eve will even reference Gunvolt's Catch Phrase if you talk to her while it's equipped.
    • Also in Zero the lv8 gun is the [[Video Game/Metroid Wave gun]], which works and looks like the wave cannon in the same series.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The sixth areas of the first game, Zero and Overdrive. Zero throws some twists into the formula, though: most rooms in the area start off normal but you need to use control panels inside caves to freeze them over in order to proceed further in the area, and Jason can use his flamethrower weapon to melt icy floors inside dungeons, which also restricts the movement of some of the enemies.
  • 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: Certain enemies have parts that negate damage, in which case you hear a sharp "ping" sound. In Zero's Destroyer Mode, this sound also plays when you hit an enemy with a Gun it's immune to.
  • Speed Echoes: The SOPHIA Zero leaves afterimages when it moves. Gunvolt in EX Characters Mode does so as well, but only if he has enough EP to use Prevasion.
  • Spikes of Doom: Everywhere in the last area in the original and in Enemy Below.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: Level 7 in Zero. Avoid the searchlights if you don't want to get overwhelmed by powerful enemies.
  • 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 SOPHIA 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.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: The SOPHIA-Zero in Zero, which also happens to be the Infinity+1 Sword.
  • The Teaser: Zero has an opening cutscene which details Earth entering an ice age after countless numbers of human conflict and natural disasters, forcing humanity to migrate to the underground, and developing methods after the conclusion of the ice age to restore Earth to its former state, undeterred by the coming of a comet. It then skips ahead several centuries ahead and introduces the protagonist, Jason Frudnick, a robotic engineering genius who encounters a frog-like alien, which he captures for observation, and names him Fred. Fred escapes from captivity some time afterwards, entering a hole leading to the underground. Jason gives chase, and encounters SOPHIA III, which he uses to locate Fred's whereabouts.
  • Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: While it's certainly tempting to mow down every boss you see with the Wave Gun, bosses also run on a Mega Man-style weakness system (which Inti Creates is quite fond of using) in which a specific Gun type will deal super effective damage against a boss, signified by a "stagger" effect when you attack it with that Gun. For example, Striker destroys all Photophage units in a single hit, and Flamethrower quite literally burns up Mother Brain and Spark Salamander's health like a match to a tinderbox.
  • Temple of Doom: Stage 2 of the original.
  • Title Drop: Double time in Zero.
  • 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.
    • Prior to the 1.2 update, this even applied 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 separated, 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. The 1.2 update fixes this by automatically moving SOPHIA to a predetermined location near the dungeon entrance once you enter the dungeon.
  • Utility Weapon: Subweapons in the series typically also serve puzzle-solving roles that may or may not involve blowing things up.
  • Video Game Flamethrowers Suck: Played straight in Blasting Again. Averted in Zero, where its main flaw is being overshadowed by the Wave Beam, but it's a perfectly useable weapon otherwise and is the only weapon that can destroy specific walls in Area 5 and melt icy floors in Area 6.
  • 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.
  • Wave Motion Gun: The Mechanical Lifeform mutant boss Venom Master will use its Attack Drones to focus and fire the Acceleration Cannon at you. However if you destroy all the drones in time (with the Striker for best results) it will only end up shooting a much punier Energy Ball you can easily dodge. Killing it lets you use the Acceleration Cannon yourself: the name alone implies it accelerates something possibly to relativistic speed. As mentioned in Awesome, but Impractical above it requires a lengthy charging period and it can be interrupted, but if you manage to pull it off the result is a disproportionately colossal beam that will annihilate all enemies in its path. Fully powering up the Acceleration Cannon against the kaiju sized Skeleton Boss in Area 7 will appropriately trigger a brief Pre-Mortem One-Liner cutscene. Also, the Mutant Core possessed Invem SOPHIA will use the Acceleration Cannon as a Desperation Attack against you in the final battle.
  • 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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