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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 until 2016, when Inti Creates (of Mega Man 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/Blaster Master Jr. (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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • In Zero, there is a save point directly before most bosses, similar to Mega Man and Mighty No. 9, averting Continuing Is Painful.
    • 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.
    • The bad ending in Zero drops a big hint as to how to unlock the true ending.
      Eve: Maybe if we just had some equipment or data, maybe things would have turned out differently...
    • 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.
    • While playing as Shantae, to prevent accidentally transforming if you push the X button by mistake, the button must be held for at least a second before the transformation will activate. Anything in-game also freezes while performing a dance, similar to her origin series. Also, as Shantae, her Elephant transformation is STILL as broken as in her source series.
    • For the boss refights in Area 9, you don't need to do them all in a row. Your progress will save by simply leaving the dungeon and coming back in. The dungeons also all have power up blocks in the first room to help even further. This helps immensely on Destroyer Mode. However, the final boss refight dungeon lacks subweapon ammo, so if you want to refills for that you'll need to backtrack.
    • For Version 1.4, a couple of major ones were introduced.
      • All characters now can use the ability to call Sophia.
      • For the new Boss Rush mode, at least on Nintendo Switch, you can play it co-operatively, completely negating That One Boss status, since you can use any character you have purchased.
  • Arc Symbol: Hexagons in Zero, which appear in the game's logo (as the "zero"), Jason's jacket, the SOPHIA III, and Fred's chest. The latter serves as Foreshadowing to his true nature.
  • Art Shifted Sequel: Zero is very Animesque in nature, due in part to Inti Creates handling it.
  • 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.
    • In Zero, there's the Acceleration Blast. 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 interrupt 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.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Shantae is capable of using enemies' attacks as her own when morphed into a mutant, enabling her to fight mutants in a sort of pseudo-Mirror Match.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • The version 1.4 update in Zero adds Boss Blaster Mode, a time trial boss rush which can be tackled either alone or with a second player.
  • 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.
    • Blasting Again prefaces boss fights with a "WARNING" screen and alarm that also doubles as a loading screen.
    • 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).
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In the original Metafight, Sophia III is the name of the planet the game takes place on, while the tank is named "Metal Attacker". In Blaster Master, SOPHIA III is simply the name of the tank. Zero manages to combine both canons by revealing that the SOPHIA III (the tank) is named after the planet that it originates from.
  • 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).
    • In Zero, you are forced to pick up the Hyper upgrade, regardless of which character you're playing as. The wall enemies are otherwise invulnerable to attacks until you do so.
  • Bubble Gun: Hard Shell in both the original and Zero spits bubbles, and fires more as it gets low on health.
  • But Now I Must Go: In the bad ending of Zero, Eve tells Jason that she has to leave to protect the universe from the mutant threat. In the true ending, she knocks him out instead.
  • 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.
    • In the same vein, Squid Baron appears in Shantae's playthrough in Area 5 to teach her the Brainy Dance.
  • Canon Immigrant: Eve in Blasting Again, who canonically becomes the original owner of SOPHIA III in all the following games.
  • Chain Reaction Destruction: Bosses in the series have more explosive components than common sense would assume.
  • Charge Attack: Player 2 in Zero is armed with an unusual variant. Damaging enemies with the normal shot charges a gauge around the crosshairs; when at least one quarter of the gauge is full, Player 2 can consume a quarter of the gauge to drop a small Health or Energy pickup for Jason to collect.
  • 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.
  • 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 Porn: Zero. It uses the original story of Blaster Master, features tons of references to Metafight, and contains nods to nearly every single game in the franchise except Blaster Master 2, and is all but confirmed to be a Stealth Sequel to the original Metafight canon.
  • 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.
  • 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 bars.
  • 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.
  • Decomposite Character: In previous Blaster Master media, the Plutonium Boss was always depicted as the Mutant Lord, with no mention of that armored whip guy from the first game anywherenote . In Zero, the Plutonium Boss and Mutant Lord are now separate characters, with the Mutant Lord being properly attributed to the Final Boss of the original.
  • 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.
  • Dem Bones: In Zero, the overworld boss of Area 7 is the Skeleton Boss, a Kaiju-sized skeleton form of the Plutonium Boss.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Blaster Master Boy is actually the localization of the sequel to the game Bomber King, released in the west as Robowarrior.
  • 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 them while they're 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.
  • Evil Overlooker: On certain cover arts for Zero, the Mutant Lord is depicted in the background giving a dark stare with a flaming left eye.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: Shovel Knight's Ornate Plate constantly sparkles while it's being worn; to the point of lighting up rooms.
  • Evolving Weapon: Jason's gun, and the 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.
    • 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 it's gear by advanced mutants.
  • Explosive Stupidity: In Zero, SOPHIA can take damage from its own Cannon Shot shells. They have a very wide blast radius, and firing one off too close to a wall will cause lots of damage. This is not, however, applicable to SOPHIA Zero.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • In Zero, the final boss of Area 4 looks a lot like Fred, a trait that's noted by the characters. This is after the mutants have had time to examine Fred in Area 6. It's also later revealed that Fred is a drone, and that the mutants consider the SOPHIA III such a huge threat because it reminds them of an enemy fighter they fought back on Eve's planet. Finally, at around Area 4, you start running into mooks who fight like Jason, using a blaster and using their mobility to dodge around and pressure you. What is this all leading up to? The True Final Boss, which is a reverse-engineered SOPHIA III; the mutants have been able to corrupt or replicated all your other friends and weapons so far, why can't they corrupt SOPHIA III when it's in their core?
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Gold Makes Everything Shiny: Shovel Knight has the Ornate Plate, of course. It's so shiny, in fact, that when equipped in any darkened dungeon, it automatically lights up the entire dungeon as if you had used a Flash Bomb.
  • 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: The Anchor Kit in Overdrive allows the S.O.P.H.I.A. 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).
  • 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 certain character-themed changes.
    • Gunvolt changes the standard health pickups into the health capsules seen in the Gunvolt series.
    • Ekoro changes all explosion effects into pink heart explosions, changes all health pickups into hearts, and changes the Item Get! jingle.
  • Guide Dang It!: In Zero.
    • At no point in the game does the game ever tell you to talk to Eve. Unfortunately, this can cause you to miss vital plot points that make the story make a whole lot more sense, since the game also doesn't tell you that talking to Eve in specific locations will trigger cutscenes that can't be seen on the same playthrough if you miss the chance to see it.
    • In New Game+, you are not told that to access the final few rooms in the game in Area 9, you need to turn on the Receiver to make a distorted doorway solid. The problem here being that the Receiver otherwise serves no function in New Game+, and it's very easy to not realize this on your first playthrough since the game more or less requires the Receiver for 95% of the game, so figuring this out right away would require quite the leap in logic.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In Zero, Eve attempts to blow up the SOPHIA III with herself inside to destroy the Mutant Core. In the true ending, it's revealed that the Mutant Core possessed the SOPHIA III before Eve could hit the switch and prevented her from doing so.
  • Hubcap Hovercraft: The Sophia III is a prime example.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: While playing as Shovel Knight in Zero, all Health pickups and some of the Life Up upgrades are replaced with food items.
  • 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 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.
  • 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. Turned Up to Eleven 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.
  • 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 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: 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.
  • 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.
  • Mythology Gag: Everywhere in Zero, especially 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".
    • One to Blasting Again, weirdly enough; the Acceleration Blast, which first debuted in Blasting Again, can be found, and it functions exactly like its original incarnation, but as a regular field move. It's not an Angst Nuke in this game, though.
    • Also one to Overdrive. In an optional conversation, Jason speculates that the comet that struck Earth hundreds of years in the past (mentioned in the intro) is probably what brought the mutants to Earth. The Stinger of Overdrive involved a Sequel Hook that implied a nearly-identical situation.
  • 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 Blast against the True Final Boss of Zero will cause it to just leave until you fire the thing, after which it comes back. However, if you time it correctly, specifically right before the final boss would normally come back (as it has attacks where it briefly leaves the screen), you can trick it and unleash the Acceleration Blast. Just be sure to get Eve out before unleashing the Acceleration Blast. In addition, if you have near or full energy after rescuing Eve, you can charge and fire the Acceleration Blast while it's stunned.
    • Also in Zero, the Wave gun is ineffective against the second form of the Final Boss, forcing you to fight it normally. However, in Destroyer mode, it's his weakness, something of a Hard Mode Perk.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: All story segments are removed in Zero's EX Characters Mode, allowing you to play the game with other characters without having to read the cutscenes.
  • 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.
  • Player Versus Player: The Version 1.5 update for Zero adds a Blaster Battles mode for the Switch version, where you and a buddy can square off in dungeon or overworld-based combat. Players are able to select from Jason and any of the EX Characters, making it something of a Blaster Master version of Super Smash Bros..
  • 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.
  • Powerup 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 seems to evoke an NES+ or even SNES graphics style to invoke the original game. Like other games of the time that evoke this, the animations take advantage of the modern technology to far exceed what the originals 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 often 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.
  • Sequel Hook: Overdrive ends with the image of a comet approaching Earth, followed by the phrase "... the battle has just begun...".
  • 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.
  • Shoot the Bullet: More like "shovel the bullet", but otherwise in the same sense. The Shovel Blade has a unique Energy Guard-like function in dungeons in which any projectile attack can be deflected back at the enemy if you strike it with your normal attack at the right time.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Gun Level 3 (Diffusion) in Zero. The closer you are to the target when firing it, the more damage it inflicts.
  • 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.
      • Which became even more hilarious when Gunvolt HIMSELF arrived in the first set of Downloadable Content, complete with a cameo by Lumen, and several pieces of fanart show Gunvolt, Jason, Lumen, and Eve playing together.
    • Also in Zero, the Gun you get at Gun Level 8 is called the Wave Gun, which appears like and is functionally similar to Samus' Wave Beam.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Stealth Sequel: Blaster Master Zero is, of all things, a direct sequel to Metafight.
  • The Stinger:
    • Overdrive has one in which a comet ominously approaches Earth, accompanied by the Sequel Hook text "The battle has just begun..."
    • 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. In Zero, falling into water or lava just damages you.
  • Suspicious Video Game Generosity: In the majority of dungeons in Zero, the boss room will be immediately preceded by a room that contains a save point and destructible blocks that always contain an assorted variety of Health and Weapon pickups.
  • 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 conflicts 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.
  • Technicolor Death: In Zero's EX Characters Mode, enemies killed by Ekoro burst into multiple pink hearts.
  • 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.
  • There Is 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.
  • This Is a Drill: The Drill Kit in Overdrive equips a large drill to the front of S.O.P.H.I.A. that can be used to destroy enemies with a Dash Attack and bore through certain blocks.
  • Title Drop: Double time in Zero.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The Version 1.3 trailer for Zero that adds Shantae and Shovel Knight includes footage from Area 9 and the True Final Boss fight.
  • 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.
  • Ultimate Universe: Zero assembles elements from many games in the franchise and the World of Power novel, while using the first game as its foundation and improving upon it.
  • Under the Sea: The fifth areas in the first and second games, as well as the 'Water' area in Blasting Again.
  • 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.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: In EX Characters Mode, neither Shantae nor Shovel Knight are armed with projectile attacks by default (in a side-scrolling shooter), and must rely on close-ranged methods of attack to defeat mutants.
  • 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.
    • In Zero, it was possible to destroy blocks with the SOPHIA III, then walk through the passage and enter a dungeon while leaving the SOPHIA III behind; upon leaving the dungeon, the SOPHIA III would be trapped behind or inside of the blocks, and Jason has no way of accessing the SOPHIA due to the game autosaving whenever you leave a dungeon. This is especially apparent with a certain dungeon in Area 7, where it is all too easy to make this mistake if you forget that the blocks respawn when you leave the dungeon. The Version 1.2 update fixed this by automatically moving the SOPHIA III to the dungeon entrance after you leave specific dungeons.
  • 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 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 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.
  • Wave Motion Gun: The Acceleration Blast in Blasting Again and Zero, which, following a charging period in which the SOPHIA mounts itself into the ground and charges up, spews a disproportionately large beam that disintegrates everything in its path. In Blasting Again, this attack is used exclusively as the coup de grace against the Final Boss. In Zero, it is one of the final upgrades in the game, and is obtained by defeating Venom Master, which uses the Acceleration Blast itself in its boss battle. Invem SOPHIA will also use it to deliver a devastating attack against you in the True Final Boss fight when its health drops low enough.
  • Wham Line: The letter from Eve's parents at the end of Zero's Golden Ending, which reveals that the entire game is a Stealth Sequel to Metafight.
  • 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.
    • Some of the Dungeon "bosses" in Zero, which require you to dispatch multiple mooks.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: The Skeleton Boss in Zero. It mostly consists of avoiding the boss's attacks while climbing a set of platforms to reach a switch that lowers SOPHIA to your location, then boarding it and charging your Acceleration Blast to inflict a One-Hit Kill. The alcove that the SOPHIA appears in is too small for the boss to hit you, allowing you to freely charge up your Wave Motion Gun without worrying about being knocked out of it.

Alternative Title(s): Blaster Master Zero