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Video Game / Blaster Master

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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 escapes from his fish bowl and encounters a crate of radioactive material, causing the pet frog to grow several times larger and subsequently fall down a large hole. Jason, in pursuit of Fred, leaps down the hole himself and comes face to face with a giant armored vehicle called SOPHIA THE 3RD, which was designed to fight radioactive mutants living Beneath the Earth. Jason, ever the hero, puts on a combat suit and gets inside the vehicle on his way to find Fred and destroy the mutants' leader — the Plutonium Boss.

While the original Metafight achieved only middling success in its home country, Blaster Master became far more popular in the West, and has since been deemed a Cult Classic for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Sunsoft would later continue the series with multiple sequels (and one unofficial Brøderbund sequel) of varying quality.

The original Blaster Master series:

  1. Chou Wakusei Senki — Metafight/Blaster Master (NES, Wii/3DS/Wii U Virtual Console, and Nintendo Switch Online)
  2. Blaster Master 2 (Sega Genesis)note 
  3. Blaster Master Boy/Blaster Master Jr. (Game Boy)note 
  4. Metafight EX/Blaster Master: Enemy Below (Game Boy Color, 3DS Virtual Console, and NSO)
  5. Blaster Master: Blasting Again (Play Station)
  6. Blaster Master Overdrive (WiiWare)

Following the release of Overdrive in 2010, the series went dormant until 2016, when Inti Creates (of Mega Man Zero and Azure Striker Gunvolt fame) announced that they had acquired the license from Sunsoft. Inti Creates went on to develop and release a trilogy of remakes/reboots of the franchise under the title Blaster Master Zero, pulling elements from across the previous Blaster Master and Metafight sagas and combining them into one definitive package.

The Zero trilogy:

  1. Blaster Master Zero (2017, Nintendo 3DS / Nintendo Switch / Xbox One / Useful Notes/PC)
  2. Blaster Master Zero II (2019, Nintendo Switch / Xbox One / PC)
  3. Blaster Master Zero III (2021, Nintendo Switch / Play Station 4 / Xbox One / PC)
  4. Blaster Master Zero Trilogy (2021, Nintendo Switch / Play Station 4)

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:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Blasting Again takes place in the year 2019. Its backstory also fixes the time frame of the original Blaster Master to 2001.
  • A God Am I: Kaiser claims as such when confronted by Roddy and Eve. This is promptly followed by Roddy blowing him to smithereens.
  • 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.
  • Adaptational Backstory Change: In Blasting Again, the Lightning Beings are entities made of energy who escaped their world after the Plutonium Boss destroyed it; Eve is a member of their species. In Zero III, the Lightning Beings are deviant mutants who are disobeying the will of Eve, who has become the Mutant Queen and a being of pure thought that resides in superdimensional space.
  • Alien Invasion: The invading Invem Dark Star Cluster is doing this to planet Sophia in the Metafight continuity.
  • All There in the Manual: Multiple instances:
    • 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. This is Goez, who is renamed as the "Master Boss" in the manual, and is only barely mentioned in one location as a boss that cannot be shown in the manual's boss gallery as seen in page 16 of .
    • 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.
  • Alternate Dimension: A lot of Zero III deals with superdimensional space, an alternate reality overlaid on top of "normal" reality that abides by different rules and is not habitable to beings from "normal" space. It also happens to be where the mutants live. Jason eventually deduces that Area 9 in Blaster Master Zero is itself a form of superdimensional space overlaying planet Earth, but compared to superdimensional space on Sophia it's actually possible to stay there for an extended period of time without the Accel Charger.
  • Alternate Techline: Copen remarks in Luminous Avenger iX 2 that the Metafight universe is far more technologically advanced than the Gunvolt universe, given that even he, a prodigy scientist who developed technology complex enough to copy superpowers and achieved effective immortality by converting himself into a Cyborg, has trouble comprehending the powers and limits of the Blaster Rifle.
  • Alternate Universe: The Metafight/Blaster Master Zero universe is concurrent with the Azure Striker Gunvolt Series.
  • Amphibian at Large: The boss of Area 4 in the first game is a giant frog named Fred that attacks with its long tongue.
  • Angst Nuke: In Blasting Again, the Acceleration Blast is a Wave-Motion Gun version of this, as its power is implied to be derived from Roddy's emotions.
  • Arrange Mode: Beating Blasting Again unlocks SOPHIA III Mode, which lets you replay the game using the classic tank from the original Blaster Master.
  • Art Shift: In conjunction with the Blaster Master continuity being adopted by Sunsoft, Jason, who had the comic book-esque appearance of an average American teen in the original game, was given an anime overhaul in Blasting Again, appearing as a blonde 90's anime action hero with a chiseled young-20's look.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: In the original game, if you have to use a Continue against the Final Boss, once you reach the boss room, the game skips the Plutonium Boss automatically and goes straight to the final fight.
  • Art Evolution: While there's almost no stylistic change, in the first Zero game the colors of the key art were somewhat washed out and more gritty; by Zero II the art looks more full and vibrant.
  • Artifact of Doom: Apparently, the SOPHIA model battle tanks are these according to Blasting Again, where Eve claims that the power of SOPHIA may drive their users to submit to the darkness in their hearts. How or why this is the case is never addressed.
  • Ascended Extra: The Plutonium Boss was upgraded to Big Bad status in the West, despite only being the game's penultimate boss. This was reversed with Zero, which is based largely on Metafight and thus demotes the Plutonium Boss back to extra while re-elevating the Mutant Lord to Big Bad.
    • Eve from Blasting Again onwards.
  • 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, and Zero's aren't much better.
  • Bag of Spilling: Happens in both Zero II and Zero III. In both cases it's justified for plot reasons; in the former, Jason wrecked the SOPHIA-Zero while looking for a cure for Eve's mutant infection and could only bring the cannon over to the G-SOPHIA, while in the latter, the G-SOPHIA is stripped of its upgrades by the Sophia Force after they imprison Jason.
  • Bequeathed Power: Near the end of the True Ending dungeon in Zero II, Eve acquires a damaged Blaster Rifle formerly owned by a deceased MA pilot named Roddy. She uses this to take control of the ANDREIA, Roddy's Metal Attacker, and ultimately uses it to help Jason defeat Drolrevo. Jason and Eve later fashion this item into Jason's Subweapon Launcher that he uses in dungeons during Zero III, as a way to keep his memory alive. An Alternate Timeline version of Zero II results in the Creator passing down the Blaster Rifle to Copen from Luminous Avenger iX, resulting in the creation of the Razor Wheel.
  • Big Bad:
    • In the Metafight continuity, the Mutant Lord Goez is the Big Bad. This also holds true for Zero, which uses elements of Metafight canon.
    • In the Blaster Master continuity, the Plutonium Boss is the Big Bad.
    • In Blasting Again, the Big Bad is Kaiser.
  • 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. Interestingly, you can leave the room just before the screen fades out completely.
    • Blasting Again prefaces boss fights with a "WARNING" screen and alarm that also doubles as a loading screen.
    • The Zero series also has them, and they now come with Boss Subtitles. Zero III reveals that they actually exist in-universe as the tank's A.I. generates a codename for the target based on a preliminary analysis. This is how Jason gets the title of "Blaster Master", since Kane's Metal Attacker called him as such.
  • 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.
  • Call-Back: The CAVE biome in Blasting Again opens with the room where Jason destroyed the Plutonium Boss in the original Blaster Master, with the Plutonium Boss's corpse visible on the back wall. The right wall has been blown off to open up to the rest of the biome.
  • Canon Discontinuity: The existence of Blaster Master II is mostly forgotten by future games in the original series. However, it did introduce the Lightning Beings, which were re-canonized in Blasting Again as Eve's species and a key antagonistic force.
  • Canon Immigrant: The Worlds of Power Blaster Master novel is the only novel in the series to become canon, Elements from the novel are used in Blasting Again and Zero, particularly Eve, who in the novel is the original pilot of SOPHIA III.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: Overdrive suffers heavily from this. Save points can only be found in specific dungeons and they are very sporadically spread out across the entire map. Dying also boots you back to the title screen, forcing you to reload your most recent save, and depending on where you died the last save can be very far away. For further insult to injury, not every dungeon with a boss has a save point in it.
  • Compilation Rerelease: Following the release of Zero III, a pack called Blaster Master Zero Trilogy was released to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the franchise. In addition to combining all three Zero games into a single product, the compilation includes all DLC for Zero and Zero II and adds Japanese voice acting as an exclusive feature.
  • Continuity Reboot:
    • Overdrive was billed as a "re-imagining" when announced, but certain details within the game suggest that it's a prequel.
    • Zero starts off with a reimagined plot of the first game and diverges into an original story for its sequel, but Zero III retroactively changes it to being a Soft Reboot, with III all but confirming that the trilogy is set in the original Metafight series.
  • Continuity Snarl: Blaster Master is known for effectively following at least two different canons that flip-flop depending on which game you're playing and what region version of which game you're playing. This is the result of the U.S. localization heavily rewriting the plot and becoming more popular than its original Japanese version, so sequels only followed the Japanese version if you played them in Japan up to Blasting Again, when it was decided that the U.S. canon was more favorable. The Zero series starts out dubious since it's a reboot that follows the general plot structure of the Western version, but by the end of Zero III, the picture is clear: It's part of the Japanese canon but with the U.S. canon injected to it, while also managing to weave in elements from ''Blasting Again'' in the ending.
  • 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.
  • Cut and Paste Environments: Every Area in Overdrive looks almost exactly the same.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: In Blasting Again, Kaiser is ultimately destroyed with the Acceleration Blast, a function of the SOPHIA J-7 that was never mentioned to exist at any point in the game.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Bosses in Blasting Again are incredibly fond of having tons of health barsnote . To wit, the first boss has 18 health bar.
  • Distant Sequel:
    • Metafight EX takes place 55 years after the original Metafight and stars Kane Gardner's descendant as the pilot of SOPHIA-III.
    • Slightly less distant, but the Zero trilogy takes place 10 years after Metafight.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Blaster Master Boy is actually the localization of the sequel to the game Bomber King, released in the west as Robowarrior.
  • Down the Drain: Stage 4 in the first game, Enemy Below, and Zero.
  • Drill Tank: An upgrade turns SOPHIA into one in both Blaster Master 2 and Overdrive. Also, the second boss of stage 2 in Blaster Master 2.
  • Driving Up a Wall: Upgrades allow SOPHIA III to drive up walls and onto ceilings.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole:
    • Whereas the Japanese version of the first game takes place on an alien planet in the distant future, the American version changed the setting to underground. Which doesn't make any sense because the very first level has visible trees, mountains, a sky, and clouds in the background, indicating that it's at least starting out on the planet's surface.
    • Zero rectifies this by explaining that humans had built artificial biomes during the time they spent living underground in the aftermath of The End of the World as We Know It, and most of it was preserved even after the surface became habitable again and the humans moved back aboveground.
  • Energy Beings: The Lightning Beings from Blaster Master 2 and Blasting Again.
  • Energy Weapon: Zero's SOPHIA can obtain a Laser mod for its main weapon, which allows you to fire a laser beam as a Charged Attack that travels through walls and terrain. The SOPHIA-Zero gets a vastly superior upgraded version that allows you to instead fire it without charging, making it a better normal shot than your actual normal shot.
  • Equipment-Based Progression: Each level other than the first is blocked in some way (an enemy you can't damage, a ledge you can't jump to, etc.). Defeating the level's boss will grant you an upgrade to your tank (a more powerful cannon, hover mode, etc.) that allows you to get past this obstacle and reach the next level. A few things are often thrown into the new level that makes you have continue to use the upgrade once in a while, so that you get some practice at using it (as well as helping throw off people trying to use exploits to commit Sequence Breaking).
  • Escape Sequence: After getting to the end of the dungeon in LAVA Area 2 in Blasting Again, blowing up the central console will cause the dungeon to begin spontaneously collapsing. Roddy must hoof it out of the dungeon within 5 minutes or else he goes down with it.
  • Eternal Engine: Area 3 of the first game and in Enemy Below.
  • Evolving Weapon: Jason's gun, SOPHIA's main cannon with the Hyper and Crusher upgrades.
  • Excuse Plot:
    • In the original, Jason is simply out to catch his irradiated mutant pet frog and stumbles upon a mobile tank, which he uses to defeat mutants from the underground. The original Japanese version has a plot about foiling an alien invasion, but it barely comes up in-game.
    • In 2, four years after the events of the first game, a new threat emerges, called Lightning Beings, which intend to go to the core of the planet and alter its axis to destroy the earth. SOPHIA was scrapped when the building it was in was struck by lighting and its parts raided by the these new enemies to help build their army of machines to achieve that end.
    • Ditto for Enemy Below, whose plot vaguely resembles something along the lines of "lab monster breaks out and sets other monsters free, so Jason has to go kill mutants again".
    • Overdrive does it as well, although the plot is slightly more believable, since it involves a virus that has started to infect all life on the planet, the protagonist's wife and child are infected and SOPHIA was stripped of its gear by advanced mutants.
    • Averted in the Zero trilogy, which has a detailed plot that spans the three games and a relatively large cast.
  • Eyeless Face: The frog bosses in the first game have mouths, but no eyes.
  • Fake Difficulty: In the first game, in an attempt to curb the lag from having too many enemies on the screen at once, enemies will despawn if they're too close to the screen's edge, and will respawn and continue whatever they were doing after the screen scrolls to wherever they were cut off. This unfortunately leads to cases where enemies will spawn in places that were clear a second before you moved there, resulting in some very cheap damage or deaths.
  • 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.
    • Inverted with the G-SOPHIA and the J1, which regenerates Mana Meter by absorbing the kinetic energy created by hard impacts. This ironically makes the ever-present Soft Water a detriment to the tank.
  • 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.
  • Flunky Boss: The Final Boss of Overdrive largely fights by summoning other parts that spawn Mooks.
  • 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.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: A major plot point toward the end of Zero revealed Fred can teleport to a SOPHIA unit via wormhole. In the sequel, this is used as a gameplay mechanic, allowing Jason to exit dungeons and warp back to the vehicle on the overworld.
  • Generation Xerox: The plot of Metafight EX takes place 50 years after Metafight and stars Kane Gardner's descendent, who is also forced to take charge of the Metal Attacker to defend Sophia III from a mutant invasion.
  • 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.
  • Glass Cannon: Jason, in the original and especially Zero. While he's much more vulnerable when he exits SOPHIA III in the side-scrolling sections, as he takes more damage from hazards and loses a lot of mobility (as well as being unable to descend safely), his shots can still deal somewhat respectable damage to enemies. Downplayed in the top-down sections, as the enemies there are designed to be exclusively fought by him (or the other DLC pilot characters in Zero), and as such he becomes an (potentially) unstoppable One-Man Army.
  • 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: The Anchor Kit in Overdrive allows the SOPHIA to fire a hook that embeds itself into walls and ceilings to navigate high terrain. It's obtained early on, but there's a later upgrade called the Anchor Kit 2 that improves the firing distance.
  • 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).
  • Haunted Castle: Area 2 is this in the original game.
  • Hope Spot: In the ending of Zero II, Eve's mutant infection stabilizes after she fires the Acceleration Blast, with the implication that she is miraculously fully cured due to her newfound Heroic Willpower. Zero III reveals that she was never cured, the infection just stopped being malignant, and what actually happened was that when her infection stabilized, she became a mutant with the appearance of a human. This causes a host of new problems since it not only results in the events leading up to the start of Zero III, but forces Jason to take even more extreme measures and directly leads into the trilogy's Bittersweet Ending.
  • Hub Level: While not officially so, the GROUND biome in Blasting Again serves this purpose. It connects to every other major biome in the game, is generally safer and smaller with fewer rooms and easier enemies, and the area contains several maintenance centers in front of each warp portal that can be used to heal the SOPHIA J-7 and save your game. Elfie also requires you to contact maintenance centers in this biome at certain points to pick up upgrades after defeating certain bosses.
  • Hubcap Hovercraft: Most SOPHIA models across the franchise have the ability to do this with the Hover upgrade.
  • 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 by adding a broken ladder in the background that shows where you should aim and making it slightly longer, in addition to the removal of limited lives. There is also a pool of Soft Water under the ladder that can catch you if you fail to grab the ladder during your fall.
  • Lethal Lava Land:
  • Lightning Bruiser: SOPHIA III, at least in the original and Zero. From the get-go, it's already very mobile, tough, and packs impressive firepower. Exaggerated when fully upgraded.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading:
    • Blaster Master 2. On the Genesis. Yes, a cartridge-based game has this problem.
    • A recurring theme in Blasting Again.
  • Loose Canon: The exact canonicity of 2 in the western canon is never addressed, as the events of the game are never mentioned by Blasting Again. However, Blasting Again uses the Lightning Beings that debuted in 2, which leaves its canon status as "possible".
  • 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.
    • The SOPHIA J-7 has distinct SP gauges for each of its four Extra Shot modes. You start with the default Blaster shot, and after the first boss you obtain the Homing, Guard, and Thunder shots. Max capacity for each Extra Shot can be upgraded by finding Memory upgrades, although you can only choose to upgrade one Extra Shot gauge per Memory.
    • Zero's DLC characters have Subweapon gauge replacements that function this way. Gunvolt has the EP Meter, Ekoro has the Heart Gauge, Shantae has a Magic Meter, and Shovel Knight has Magic Points.
  • Metroidvania: The Blaster Master series is commonly considered the "prototypical" Metroidvania as it features game elements that would become common with the subgenre, such as Equipment-Based Progression, Ability Required to Proceed and backtracking through previously-traversed terrain to open paths now explorable with abilities acquired later. Unlike modern Metroidvanias, however, game progression is almost completely linear (Areas are even numbered in the order you are expected to go) and does not feature an "open world" where access to multiple varieties of biomes are available at the start, keeping it from being a real Metroidvania.
  • Mission Control: Elfie plays this role in Blasting Again, giving guidance to Roddy from a remote location and sending him upgrades after he defeats certain bosses. Two-thirds of the way into the game, Elfie is attacked and kidnapped by the Lightning Beings, who mistake her for her mother Eve. Eve's spirit, who resides within Roddy's pendant, takes over the role of mission control for the remainder of the game.
  • 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.
  • More Dakka: Blaster Lv. 5 in Overdrive causes your gun to literally spew bullets non-stop like a gatling gun. Blaster Level 4 in Zero does the same.
  • Mutant: The enemies that Jason fights in the Blaster Master continuity are created or mutated by the radioactive chest. In Metafight and Zero, though, they're a Horde of Alien Locusts; Jason calling them "Mutants" is a misnomer.
  • 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.
  • 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 in future games, particularly the character of Eve, whose novel backstory as the owner of the SOPHIA-III was written into the series.
  • Nuclear Mutant: The enemies that Jason fights in the Blaster Master continuity are created or mutated by the radioactive chest.
  • Once an Episode: In the Zero trilogy, you fight a version of the Skeleton Boss in each game, and in each game you can One-Hit Kill it with the game's ultimate weapon. It's most obvious in the first game where the game outright encourages you to do so, but it still works with the Full Accel Burst and Final Accel Charge.
  • 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. Be careful, however, as this also works in reverse.
  • Permanently Missable Content: In the Zero trilogy, you have the option to talk to your co-pilot, which has them (or Jason) give a small chat about the current situation or equipped weapon. Doing so is always optional and is never required to progress, but the series has a pretty bad habit of tucking away important story context, character interactions and world-building in these conversations. What makes them missable is that the triggers for certain conversations are always context-sensitive and the game will never tell you when unseen conversations are available, meaning that if you pass certain points in the game without checking in with your co-pilot you can no longer get those conversations on the same playthrough.
  • Power Up Letdown:
    • In the original Blaster Master and Metafight, several gun levels are these in one way or the other.
      • Gun levels 4-5 cause the gun to pseudorandomly alternate between firing straight shots and shots that arc to the left or right of Jason/Kane and then go behind him.
      • Gun levels 6-7 travel in sinusoidal waves. The main problem is that the way the bullets travel make it hard to hit some objects in front of Jason/Kane, and that they are absorbed by walls so firing these when Jason/Kane is next to one is useless. Attempts to shoot some bosses' tiny weak points can be frustrated by the wave pattern and the bullets' absorption when they hit some other part of the boss.
      • Gun level 8 is like gun levels 6-7, but its shots pierce walls instead of getting absorbed by walls. It is great at clearing out rooms of Mooks, but terrible at precision targeting. Attempts to shoot some bosses' tiny weak points can be frustrated by the wave pattern.
    • 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 Roddy's gun into a powerful but extremely short-range flamethrower. The 2nd-highest upgrade is far more practical.
  • Point of No Return: The Zero games don't let you leave The Very Definitely Final Dungeon once you enter it. Not too much of an issue in the first game since 100% Completion is required for reaching it anyway and there's a New Game Plus mode, but for the second and third games, well, you better hope you copied your save file beforehand.
  • Punny Name: The tank in Blasting Again, the SOPHIA J-7, is named after Jason Frudnick.
  • Multiple Endings: The Zero games all have a Downer Ending if you miss certain requirements, and a good ending that unlocks when you meet them and beat The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • Real Is Brown: In Overdrive.
  • Recurring Boss: Despite not being a main antagonist like in the Western Blaster Master games, the Plutonium Boss's Zero counterpart, the Skeleton Boss, appears twice in every game in the series. First as the Skeleton Boss, then as Cerbeboss (Skeleton Boss with three heads), and finally as Metal Cerbeboss (Cerbeboss with the main head becoming a cyborg).
  • Recurring Element: The Acceleration Blast appears in every game in the Zero series, even in the sequels where it has "successors" in the form of new upgrades. While it it serves the role of the SOPHIA-III's superweapon in the first game, it serves a plot critical role in the second game, and is a secret optional upgrade that can be found during The Very Definitely Final Dungeon in the third game. This retroactively makes sense given the trilogy's ties to Blasting Again, which introduced the original Acceleration Blast.
  • Recycled Title: Averted with Blasting Again in Japan, which is simply called Blaster Master like the Western counterpart of the first game, but it is the first game in the franchise to use the "Blaster Master" name in Japan since all previous titles bore the Metafight name.
  • Revisiting the Roots: This was Overdrive's take after the mixed bag that was Blasting Again, which attempted 3D conversion of the traditional formula. Inti Creates tried this again with Zero and was on the whole more successful than Overdrive.
  • Retcon: The plot of Blasting Again, while being grounded in the Western adaptation of the series, revises the plot synopsis of the prior Blaster Master saga to bring in elements from the Japanese Metafight canon, the Worlds of Power novel, and the non-canonical Blaster Master 2. For example, the mutants have been rebranded into the Lightning Beings (originally coined in 2), it is clarified that the SOPHIA THE 3RD originates from an alien planet and uses its Metal Attacker codename, and the character of Eve from the novelization was stated to have fought alongside Jason in the past.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: The Support Droids in the Zero trilogy, who are androids designed to accompany Metal Attackers and provide tactical, mechanical, and emotional support for their pilots. They are virtually identical to humans in every way except biology, and they can even show signs of physical growth/aging like humans, as demonstrated with Tesset in III.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • Overdrive ends with the image of a comet approaching Earth, followed by the phrase "...the battle has just begun...".
    • The Stinger in Zero II has Leibniz realizing that mutants started attacking Earth while Jason and Eve were distracted by the plot. In the good ending, they decide to save it by themself.
  • Shapeshifting: Blasting Again reveals that the Lightning Beings are Eve's species; survivors from when the Plutonium Boss destroyed their world.
  • Shared Universe: Luminous Avenger iX 2 reveals that the Blaster Master Zero trilogy has canonical ties to the Azure Striker Gunvolt Series. Copen acquires Roddy's Blaster Rifle from the events of Zero II due to the efforts of The Creator, and Jason later hops over to the parallel universe of iX 2 to spar with Copen.
  • 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.
  • Shock and Awe:
    • The Metal Attacker/SOPHIA-III has the Thunder Breaker, which shoots a bolt of lightning from below the tank's undercarriage. However, the lightning fires at a randomized angle, neutering its effectiveness.
    • One of the Extra Shots for the SOPHIA J-7 is the Thunder shot, which sprays out lightning in front of the tank. It's lacking in range but makes up for it in raw power, having high enough DPS to rapidly fry anything that gets close to you.
    • The SOPHIA-III in Zero gets the same Thunder Breaker as in the original Blaster Master, but this time the bolt shoots straight down and shooting it into water causes the bolt to spread and inflict damage to all on-screen enemies in water. The SOPHIA-Zero gets a vastly upgraded variant that causes it to shoot five bolts in a cone, multiplying its effectiveness.
    • The G-SOPHIA SV and the SOPHIA-J1 gets the Ignition Spark, which deploys an electric mine that shoots lightning upon touching the ground while turning into a barrier that repels enemy attacks. Activating it immediately after landing with the Gaia System causes the lightning to power up and travel significantly faster.
  • Shout-Out: The protagonist and his frog are named Jason and Fred...
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Area 6 in the original, 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.
  • Spikes of Doom: Everywhere in the last area in the original and in Enemy Below.
  • Stealth Sequel: The Blaster Master Zero trilogy is one to Metafight, set 10 years in the future. This is strongly hinted by the Golden Ending of the first game and later confirmed by the third game.
  • The Stinger: Overdrive has one in which a comet ominously approaches Earth, accompanied by the Sequel Hook text "The battle has just begun..."
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Jason perished offscreen between the events of Blaster Master and Blasting Again while fighting the Lightning Beings. Elfie is linked to the incident that killed him since she blames her lack of expertise as Mission Control in his death, although exactly how he died is never addressed.
  • 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. In Zero, falling into water or lava just damages you.
  • Super Prototype:
    • The Purposefully Overpowered Sword of Plot Advancement from the first Zero, SOPHIA-Zero, is revealed to be one in Zero II. Although vastly superior compared to the normal tank, being built on such short notice means it came loaded with design flaws, and the tank is ultimately pushed beyond its limits by the time Zero II rolls around. Jason ends up scrapping it for parts and using its cannon on his new tank, the GAIA-SOPHIA, which isn't quite as strong as the previous tank but makes up for it with its own unique capabilities.
    • Something of an Informed Attribute with the SOPHIA-J1, which has all of the upgrades and abilities of the G-SOPHIA SV but is apparently not 100% functional when Kane shows up in Area 9 to battle Jason at the climax of Zero III.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement:
    • While it has no meaningful gameplay distinction, it is stated in the setting of the Zero trilogy that Blaster Rifles are required to operate Metal Attackers by inserting the gun into the tank like you would an actual key, hence their key-shaped designs (until Jason's G-SOPHIA, which has a more gun-shaped Blaster Rifle). This is appropriately reflected in the Japanese translation, which calls them "Key Rifles".
    • The SOPHIA-Zero is a Tank of Plot Advancement, as it is a super-powerful variant of the SOPHIA III sent by Kane Gardner and Jennifer Gardner to help Jason rescue Eve and save the Earth at its most dire hour.
  • Temple of Doom: Stage 2 of the original.
  • Tennis Boss: Venom Master in Destroyer Mode can only be damaged by reflecting shots back into him, whether his own or those of his flunky minions, which thankfully drop gun upgrades when killed in case you get hit to the point where you lose Reflect.
  • This Is a Drill: The Drill Kit in Overdrive equips a large drill to the front of SOPHIA that can be used to destroy enemies with a Dash Attack and bore through certain blocks.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: The Napalm in Blasting Again is an infinite use grenade that drops three flaming pillars in triangular formation where the O button was pressed, racking up heavy damage to anything touching it. Its rather awkward design limits its practicality when your gun can do just as good of a job if not better in the majority of situations. However, it does happen to cheese certain tough enemies and boss fights extraordinarily well, especially the ones that either sit still for an extended period of time or chase Roddy around the map.
  • Time Skip: According to Kane Gardner's profile in Zero III, the Zero trilogy takes place roughly 10 years after Metafight.
  • 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:
    • Area 5 in the original as well as Blaster Master 2.
    • The WATER biome in Blasting Again is fairly self-explanatory. The dungeon in WATER Area 2 adds in a little bit of Slippy-Slidey Ice World, as Roddy must activate a console to freeze the running water in the dungeon to progress.
  • Underwater Ruins: Area 5 of both the original and Zero. In the original, it was represented by simple turquoise pillars, but in Zero, going far down enough will reveal actual ruins in the background.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: 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.
  • Utility Weapon:
    • Subweapons in the series typically also serve puzzle-solving roles that may or may not involve blowing things up.
    • Shovel Knight's Shovel Blade covers a wide range of functions that are typically relegated to special weapons, such as being able to break walls and destroy ice rocks.
  • Video Game 3D Leap: Blasting Again was the series attempt at replicating the Blaster Master action in 3D. The attempt was not especially well-received, however, and all subsequent installments went back to 2D.
  • Video Game Flamethrowers Suck:
    • In Blasting Again, the Level 5 Gun is a far-ranged explosive bullet that detonates three times on hit and deals massive damage. The Level 6 Gun is a flamethrower-like energy spray that has the highest potential DPS of your guns but has less range than your Level 1 peashooter and will more often than not get you hit just for trying to use it.
    • Averted in Zero, where its main flaw is being overshadowed by the Wave Beam, but it's a perfectly usable 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.
    • In Blasting Again, you get the Crawl upgrade after beating the second boss. This allows the SOPHIA-J7 to sprout Spider Limbs and climb up designated routes in the overworld, marked by a set of arches that the SOPHIA can squeeze between.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The recurring Acceleration Blast subweapon, which debuted in Blasting Again (via New Powers as the Plot Demands in a cutscene). It is only actually usable for standard gameplay in two games it appears in; in one of them, it is the epitome of Awesome, but Impractical, and in another it is only obtainable right before the True Final Boss as an optional secret upgrade. But damn, if it doesn't make for good Cutscene Bosses.
  • 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.
  • Your Size May Vary: Luminous Avenger iX 2 reveals that the SOPHIA's size is vastly understated in the Blaster Master games; in Zero, the side-scrolling segments depict it as being slightly bigger than Jason, while the top-down segments, when comparing Gonbei's Kuebiko, and the ending cutscene it is as wide as a Main Battle Tank. During Copen's bonus boss fight with Jason, the SOPHIA (as the J1) is several times larger than him, making the aforementioned MBT's look like lowriders by comparison.
  • Zerg Rush:
    • The Final Boss of Overdrive.
    • Some of the Dungeon "bosses" in Zero, which require you to dispatch multiple mooks.