Video Game / Blaster Series

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Math_Blaster_3261.jpg
Blasternaut, before and after.
Edutainment Game series from The '90s created by the company known as Davidson, aimed largely at elementary schoolers, though a few have been aimed at middle schoolers. First there was Math Blaster (1994) and then Reading Blaster. Very briefly, there was Science Blaster, Geometry Blaster, Spelling Blaster and Word Blaster (don't ask how that last one is any different than Reading Blaster).

True to being both educating and entertaining, the Blaster series centered on an astronaut called Blasternaut (get it?) and his Robot Buddy Spot, a little blue droid. They worked for the Galactic Commander, who herself helped to run a federation-like organization that spanned the galaxy to apprehend criminals. Eventually Galactic Commander (or GC, as the others called her) joined the team. Their images changed rapidly - for example, Spot eventually became a robotic dog named MEL while G.C. became a 12 year old girl instead of a female adult and Blaster became a 12 year old boy instead of a green astronaut-like man. This last version of the characters was featured in the Saturday Morning Cartoon series Blaster's Universe, produced by Nelvana in 1999.

Another universe appeared in the Blaster Series with a kid named Rave going up against the Mad Scientist Dudley Dabble. Rave is a green creature with a yellow horn growing out of his head and most of the other inhabitants of his world appear to be monsters and/or creatures of some description, with the odd exception of Dabble, although he was eventually given blue skin. While generally unrelated to the original universe, there was a readable crossover story featured in Reading Blaster 2000 titled Dr. Dabble's Revenge, wherein the original heroes fought against Dr. Dabble.

Please do not confuse with Learning Voyage, which is another Edutainment Game series Davidson worked on that features alien creatures and a pet robot; the similarities end there.

This series provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Mega Math Blaster has you throw banana peels, clothespins and pacifiers at enemies. Ages 9-12 gives you actual bananas. Rave in The Great Brain Robbery throws green slimeballs during the last stage.
  • Alien Invasion: Alge-Blaster 3 centers around countering one.
  • Alphabet Soup Cans: Totally ubiquitous, of course. Wonderfully parodied in the ending cutscene of Math Blaster Ages 9-12. Blasternaut and G.C. are pretending they're leaving Spot behind for the purpose of an escape plan. Spot sobs, to stereotypical sad violin music, "What about all these years of solving math problems together? Did they mean anything to you?"
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Alge-Blaster 3 has the Red Nasties. Geometry Blaster has the Geometrons, a race of two-dimensional beings.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The back of the early instruction books lists all of the Blaster series' main antagonists, in the form of a Wanted Poster. Dr. Dabble is wanted for "robbery, grand larceny, and non-payment of electric bill".
  • The Artifact: Galactic Commander's "name", if you can call it that. It made enough sense when she was Da Chief in In Search of Spot and Invasion of the Word Snatchers. When she's accompanying Blasternaut and Spot in Secret of the Lost City, mention is made of the fact that this is unusual. After that, however, she became Blasternaut's partner on all his adventures and didn't seem to be commanding anything, let alone the entire galaxy. She was nicknamed "G.C." around this time, probably at least partially to avoid drawing attention to this very problem. Then the 1999 Re Tool turned her into a 12-year-old and, yep, her name is still "Galactic Commander". Maybe Mr. and Mrs. Commander had ambitious plans for their daughter when they named her "Galactic".
  • Asteroid Thicket: The normal and "good" endings of Mega Math Blaster show Blasternaut and G.C. chasing Gelator through one of these. The game is also bookended by you blasting your way through it in pursuit of said villain.
  • Badbutt: Most of the main characters (Blasternaut, Galactic Commander).
  • Baleful Polymorph: The six missing people in Reading Blaster Ages 9-12 were turned into household appliances.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: GC doesn't wear a helmet on her space suit.
  • Bee Afraid: A swarm of bees flies randomly around the catwalk stage in The Great Brain Robbery.
  • Big Red Devil: Alge-Blaster 3 has the Red Nasties, though they aren't particularly big.
  • Bird People: General Fishburn's secretary in Math Blaster Jr. is a bird-like alien.
  • Blob Monster: Mega Math Blaster has Gelator. One of the endings also has his parents. One of the enemies on the catwalk in The Great Brain Robbery is a blue slime creature.
  • Broken Bridge: Occurs in In Search of Spot in the form of an engine which is out of fuel.
  • Butt Monkey: Spot showed occasional shades of this.
  • Camp Straight: General Fishburn from the "Jr." (or "Ages 4-6") games is very campy, but in Math Blaster Jr. we find out that he is attracted to a female alien.
  • Cephalothorax: The Red Nasties in Alge-Blaster 3. Episode 1 has the Trash Alien.
  • Choose Your Own Adventure: Reading Blaster 2000 features three stories that function like this. Every five stars you earn, you get another chapter.
  • Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb: The N-Gon Mountains in Geometry Blaster has this as the result if you get a problem wrong. Get too many wrong and you have to start over.
  • Combining Mecha: The Lost City (really just four buildings) combine into a new ship for the Blasterpals in Episode 2 after all of the puzzles are finished.
  • Conspicuous CGI:
    • The cutscenes in Mega Math Blaster and Math Blaster Ages 9-12.
    • The intro of Math Blaster Ages 6-8 (1999) has the spaceship rendered like this.
  • Continuity Nod: In the introduction of Mega Math Blaster, Spot flies past the prison planet Lock-Em-Up, where the previous games' villains Trash Alien, Illitera, and Dr. Minus are imprisoned.
  • Continuity Overlap: The 1999-era games were made to promote the Blaster's Universe cartoon series, so they both share the same continuity.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Mega Math Blaster has both lava and fire-breating statues in an ice cave.
  • Conveyor Belt-O-Doom: One of the bonus levels in Math Blaster Ages 9-12 is set on a non-hazardous one. If you fall off, it just cuts the level short and sends you to the next puzzle.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Spot. Mel takes on this role later on.
  • Difficulty Levels: The games generally have three or four difficulty levels.
  • Dummied Out: Writing Blaster, a combination simple word processor and art program has a feature that converts words to pictures from the art half of the program and back. There are a few words in the word processor that can be converted to pictures that aren't in the art program.
  • Escort Mission: The bridge levels in Math Blaster Ages 9-12 alternate between building the actual bridges and puzzles where you need to guide several hopping monkeys across floating platforms. Fortunately, you only need to keep them from falling.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: A whole planet of flying ones in Math Blaster Ages 9-12.
  • Evil Is Hammy: All of the villains seem to like hamming it up.
  • Evil Laugh: Dr. Minus, the Trash Alien, the Geometrons, Terrible Monkey King and Gelator all do this at least once.
  • Excited Show Title!: The title of the original game was "Math Blaster!" Then there was "Math Blaster Plus!" and "New Math Blaster Plus!"
  • Expospeak Gag: The ship computer in Ages 9-12 refers to the air bag as a "severe-impact-avoidance inflatable device".
  • Expy: Gelator is a yellow alien with three eyes that abducts Spot... exactly like the Trash Alien. In fact, Gelator's game, Ages 9-12, is a rehash of the entire premise of In Search of Spot.
  • Extra Eyes:
    • Both the Trash Alien and Gelator have three eyes.
    • So do Gelator's parents.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: The mysteries in Reading Blaster Vocabulary are minor crimes that get huge attention from the Bizaroville media. At the conclusion of each case, the narrator describes the judge dishing out a humorously karmic punishment.
  • Fetch Quest: The three crystals in Mega Math Blaster, the Medallions of Prosperity in Ages 9-12 and the Dimension Machine pieces in Geometry Blaster are collected by completing the various stages in the respective games.
  • Floating Platforms: Pretty ubiquitous.
    • Math Blaster Ages 9-12 also has platforms that double as hazards.
  • Flying Saucer: The Trash Alien uses a red one.
  • For the Evulz: The Trash Alien just litters around space for the spite of it.
  • Fungus Humongous: One of the levels in Mega Math Blaster has these as platforms.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: GC's appearance in the early and mid-1990's.
  • Halloweentown: Rave's hometown of Bizarroville.
  • Haunted House: Dr. Dabble's mansion, haunted by its previous owner, Lydia Novella, who also serves as your guide throughout the game.
  • Herr Doktor: In Mega Math Blaster, Blasternaut has a "wrist analyzer", which is referred to as "Freud" and speaks with a German accent. At the start of Math Blaster Pre-Algebra, Rave is watching a movie with a German-accented character referred to as "Professor".
  • Intangible Theft:
    • In the first Reading Blaster, Illiteria steals all language from the planet Earth.
    • In Math Blaster Pre-Algebra, Dr. Dabble uses an electrochemical math magnet to steal all math from the world.
  • Monumental Theft: One of the mysteries in Reading Blaster Vocabulary involves the perpetrator stealing the state of Rhode Island.
  • The Joy of X:
  • Jungle Japes: Mega Math Blaster has a varying number of these depending on the difficulty. On hard mode, there are two of these followed by an Underground Level. Much of Math Blaster Ages 9-12 has some level of this to go with the flying monkeys.
  • Kid Detective: Rave in Reading Blaster Vocabulary.
  • Kid Hero:
    • Rave, who is a Kid Detective in Reading Blaster Vocabulary.
    • The 1999 incarnation of the Blasterpals.
  • Large Ham:
    • The old guy and the Terrible Monkey King in Math Blaster Ages 9-12.
    • Dr. Minus from Secret of the Lost City had his moments, as well.
    • Dr. Dabble.
    • The Sphinx in Geometry Blaster, especially if you answer incorrectly. The Geometrons are also pretty hammy.
    • Dr. Zero, the redheaded Enfant Terrible in Math Blaster Ages 7-9 (1999).
  • Liquid Assets: Gelator drain Spot's intelligence in Mega Math Blaster.
  • Look Behind You: How Rave defeats Dr. Dabble at the end of Math Blaster Mystery.
    Rave: Look! Elvis!
    Dr. Dabble: What? Where?!
  • Mad Libs Dialogue: In the "Junior" (or "Ages 4-6") games especially.
    Blasternaut: Get back... Four. Green. Jewels.
  • Mad Scientist:
    • Dr. Dabble, naturally.
    • Dr. Zero in Math Blaster Ages 7-9 (1999).
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Dr. Dabble's laboratory.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: One male voice actor provided voices for all male characters in (at least) the 1993-era Math Blaster games. His name is Mark Sawyer. None of the voices sound similar to each other in the slightest.
  • Medium Blending: The gameplay of Math Blaster Ages 7-9 (1999) is entirely CGI.
  • Monster Mash: Math Blaster Mystery: The Great Brain Robbery has a fairly large assortment of monsters that give you word problems and puzzles to solve.
  • Multiple Endings: In Mega Math Blaster, determined by how many bonus objects you found in the game.
  • Nerd Glasses: The Terrible Monkey King.
  • No Ending: Lydia's journal in Reading Blaster 9-12 ends on a cliffhanger with no resolution whatsoever.
  • Not Good with Rejection: As mentioned in Reading Blaster 9-12, this was the reason why Dr. Dabble spirited away Bobbi Fright: he wanted to be her boyfriend, but she kept refusing, while he would not take no for an answer. A Love Triangle erupted when Dr. Dabble and Lou Fright vied for the affections of Bobbi, and when Lou and Bobbi got married, Dabble retaliated by sending her a wedding gift of a fridge full of angry bees. Dabble never forgave her for rejecting him, and it was these reasons why he lured her to his domain and imprisoned her in his lab.
  • Opposing Sports Team: Reading Blaster 2000 has a game show premise. If you opt for single player mode, your opponent will be Illitera, who was previously the villainess of Reading Blaster: Invasion of the Word Snatchers. She acts rude and the audience boos everything she says.
  • Power Crystal: Each of the first three puzzles in Mega Math Blaster end with finding one.
  • Pungeon Master: The Geometrons in Geometry Blaster have a degree of this. They drop geometry puns whenever they walk by Andi's trailer.
  • Punny Name:
    • Max Blaster = Math Blaster.
    • Subverted with Zoid in Geometry Blaster. His full name is Trap E. Zoid, despite being made of triangles and cones later on.
    • Ike and Rita Cuecard = "I Can Read A Cue Card". Don't worry if you didn't get the joke as a kid.
    • Illitera = Illiterate.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Geometrons in Geometry Blaster.
  • Retro Rocket: The Blasterpals have a purple one in In Search of Spot. Dr. Minus shoots it down in Secret of the Lost City.
  • Revenge: Dr. Dabble's motivation in Reading Blaster Ages 9-12.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Zoid in Geometry Blaster. Lampshaded at the beginning of one of the puzzles. The Sphinx combines this with Large Ham if you answer her questions incorrectly.
  • Shout-Out:
    • At the beginning of Math Blaster Ages 7-9 (1999), the heroes are watching a pastiche of Tom and Jerry on TV.
    • The ending and enemies from Math Blaster Ages 9-12 are a reference to The Wizard of Oz.
  • Space Friction: At the beginning of In Search of Spot, you can hear Blasternaut's ship screech to a halt above the planet's surface, with nothing to imply that there is any atmosphere.
  • Space Is Noisy: The Blasterpals can hear Dr. Minus's ship catching up with theirs in Secret of the Lost City. Blasternaut initially thinks its Spot revving his jets.
  • Stealth Insult: In Reading Blaster 9-12, Dr. Dabble mentions that the mayor may have fewer ethics than he does, and turns her into a vacuum cleaner. He thinks she sucks.
  • Suddenly Voiced: The leader of the Quadraticans is voiced in a non-interactive promotional demo for the 1994 games.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Blasternaut and GC in their 1996 designs.
  • Token Human: Andi, the protagonist of Geometry Blaster, is the only human protagonist in the pre-1999 games.
  • Underground Level: Mega Math Blaster has up to three ice cave levels depending on the difficulty. Hard mode also adds one after the two jungle levels. In Search Of Spot has one as well.
  • Vertebrate with Extra Limbs: The flying monkeys in Math Blaster Ages 9-12.
  • Video Game 3D Leap: All of the games in the main series after In Search of Spot use 3D graphics to one degree or another. Mega Math Blaster onward use a mix of 3D backgrounds and traditionally animated characters for cutscenes and the 2012 incarnation is fully 3D. Generally averted with most of the other games, though. Geometry Blaster actually justified it by having the objective be returning three-dimensionality to a world that was being converted to two dimensions.
  • Video Game Remake:
    • Mega Math Blaster is a remake of Math Blaster Episode I: In Search of Spot, which in turn was a remake of Math Blaster Plus, which was yet another remake of a game simply titled Math Blaster.
    • Math Blaster Ages 9-12 is a remake of Math Blaster Episode II: Secret of the Lost City that implements the puzzles differently.
    • Reading Blaster 2000 is a remake of Reading Blaster: Invasion of the Word Snatchers.
    • Math Blaster Pre-Algebra is a remake of Math Blaster Mystery: The Great Brain Robbery.
    • Spelling Blaster was reworked into Reading Blaster Ages 6 - 8, with the post-1999 versions of the Blaster pals replacing the original versions. Compare the before and after.
  • The Voice:
    • Lydia the Ghost in Reading Blaster Ages 9-12 is a disembodied voice occasionally represented by floating objects. In the sentence spinner game, a pair of disembodied feminine eyes serve as her avatar while your avatar is a picture of Rave.
    • Andi's mother in Geometry Blaster.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Dr. Zero does this in the intro for Math Blaster Ages 7-9 (1999).
  • Wizard Classic: The Venerable Apothem in Geometry Blaster is a two-dimensional one made out of triangles. He even has the 2D equivalents of a Robe and Wizard Hat and a Wizard Beard.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair:
    • Galactic Commander, aka GC, has purple hair in her later incarnations.
    • Max (a later version of Blasternaut) has blue hair.
    • Blasternaut's 2006 rendition has spiky blue hair.

Alternative Title(s): Math Blaster, Reading Blaster

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/BlasterSeries?from=Main.BlasterSeries