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Video Game / Kero Blaster

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Kero Blaster is a Run-and-Gun action platformer made by Studio Pixel, starring a frog salaryman. It is his first major game since Cave Story, and features a similar gameplay style, though it ditches the Metroidvania-lite design in favor of discrete levels.

The plot of the game is fairly simple. You play as a frog salaryman named Kaeru, who works as Cat & Frog Inc. (the "cat" part being fulfilled by his boss, President Nanao), a company that produces and manages teleporters. His current assignment is to clean up blocked teleporters in four major areas, though it quickly becomes clear that there's a far bigger problem to deal with. An update to the game added a extra storyline where Kaeru handles an inordinate amount of work to prepare for a company vacation.

It can be purchased here. Also worth checking out are the freeware side games, Pink Hour and Pink Heaven, both of which star Comomo, a side character from the main game.


Tropes found in this game:

  • Almighty Janitor: Played straight with Kaeru. His job is officially listed as "custodial sciences" (read: janitor) and his only real job is to go out and clean teleporters. However, since the teleporters are housed in areas that are apparently quite hostile, he's armed to the teeth, and seems to do the most actual work around the company (he's even half of the name).
    • Pink Hour and Pink Heaven show that Comomo the secretary is just as skilled with a blaster as Kaeru.
  • Arrange Mode:There are two alternate modes unlockable after clearing the main game. The first, "Zangyou Mode" (technically the second since it was added in an update, but post-update it's the first to be unlocked), is a remixed campaign that includes a new story, with much higher difficulty, tougher bosses, and a completely new final level. Clearing that mode allows you to create a save file for "Omake Mode", which is a more standard alternate mode where you go through every level of normal mode with all weapon upgrades carried over and health reset to a single heart, though more health can still be bought. This mode ends with a Boss Rush with all of the main game's bosses, and the game's Infinity +1 Sword, the Kuro Blaster, can be found and upgraded in new secret areas.
  • Author Appeal:
    • The reason for all the cats and frogs, which Pixel has always liked.note 
    • A lot of the theme and story concept of the game appear to be inspired by the many years Pixel spent working at an office job with a company that produced (non-game) software.
  • Auto-Revive: Dying from regular damage (as opposed to pits/crushing) while holding a Heart Jar will revive you with four hearts.
  • Beat the Curse Out of Him:
    • In the final level of normal mode, Kaeru has to do this to his boss.
    • In Zangyou Mode, he has to do this to Nanao's former boss.
  • Blob Monster: The "Negativus Legatia". Also known simply as the "things".
  • Beam Spam: The third form of the first weapon is the Lazer, which fires a powerful Death Ray which on a clean hit is the deadliest single projectile in the game, but has a slow rate of fire. The fourth and final form is the Lazer Uzi, whose shots are very slightly weaker individually but can fire more than twice as fast.
  • Body Horror: Nanao gets horribly swelled up and deformed as a result of being possessed by one of the "things".
  • Bookends: A musical example. The final level has the same music as the first.
  • Boss Bonanza: The final level of Zangyou Mode contains three boss battles almost back-to-back, and the last of them has three forms. Normal Mode limits it to just a two-phase penultimate boss and a final fight.
  • Boss Rush: The final challenge of Omake Mode is a gauntlet of fights against all eight main bosses from the normal mode.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In Normal mode, Comomo is motivated to help out by the possibility that if the problem of the negativus legatia is solved, it'll put an end to overtime work. Given that Zangyou mode's name translates to "overtime work", guess how that pans out.
    • The C&F employees order drinks in a cutscene in Zangyou mode. The drinks don't come until the ending...just as everyone is leaving the room.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: Omake Mode is actually pretty easy due to having all your weapons from the start... except for the secret areas, which combine Checkpoint Starvation with outright defiance of the normal rules of the game.
  • Bubble Gun: Bubble/Balloon/Star Mine, the third weapon you unlock. Of the fully upgraded weapons, the Star Mine is the weakest damage-wise, but it also fires the fastest, and the bubbles bounce along the ground and off walls, giving it different coverage than the other weapons. Because of the way the projectiles bounce off walls (and, in the same way, off the protagonist) and have a fairly long lifespan before dissipating if they don't hit an enemy, it can be very deadly in tight spaces as the area becomes saturated with bubbles; it can be less about hitting the enemy and more about laying down a bunch of bubbles where the enemy is going to be.
  • Bubbly Clouds: The setting of Pink Heaven. Also, the final boss arena in Zangyou mode in the game proper.
  • Chain Reaction Destruction: The bosses die this way, complete with a big boom at the end.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In Normal mode, the boss of the Train Station level is followed by two birds on a handcar. In Zangyou mode, the train you'd normally ride while fighting that boss passes the station instead of stopping, so you ride the handcar instead. The birds and their handcar show up in the last level, too.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: Usually, every new screen is a checkpoint as long as you have at least one life. However, dying in the secret areas of Omake mode will take you back to before you entered the secret area. For other games, this might not be out of the norm, but the usual generosity of checkpoints combined with these areas being Brutal Bonus Levels makes it hard not to feel a little checkpoint-starved.
  • Chest Monster: A few of the money safes in the game have menacing faces and jump at Kaeru to attack. They still drop tons of money upon defeat. A boss variant appears in White Laboratories in Zangyou Mode.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Each weapon has a distinct color to help distinguish them when swapping. The Pea Shooter is yellow (white as the Lazer Uzi), the Fan is green, the Bubble is blue (purple as the Star Mine), the Fire is orange, and the Kuro Blaster is black and blue/teal.
  • Cool Shades: Nanao wears these, though a flashback in Zangyou Mode shows that she didn't always have them.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Downplayed. Simply dying merely puts you back at the beginning of the screen you were on, losing almost no progress. Running out of lives does put you all the way back to the beginning of the level, but you get to keep all your coins and upgrades, and any minibosses you've beaten will stay dead when going back through the level, thus essentially Inverting Unstable Equilibrium and Continuing is Painful. However, there is an achievement for beating the entire game without ever running out of lives.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: The final boss. Deconstructed, as it results in the protagonist spending the epilogue in the hospital wearing a body cast. Oddly enough however, the other employees of C&F Inc., who were inside said boss at the time of the explosion, emerge with no serious injuries.
  • Degraded Boss:
    • The first boss shows up as a mook twice in the final level of Normal mode. Also, in Omake mode, a glitched version of the second form of the final boss of Zangyou mode is an enemy in one of the secret areas.
    • The boss of Pink Hour is a a Giant Mook version of the Negativus Legatia. This variant appears in Kero Blaster as a bulky enemy found in later stages.
  • Developers' Foresight: Normally, it's impossible to acquire the Kuro Blaster parts in Normal Mode, because you need to have equipment from later levels to get them. However, it's possible to get the jetpack at the end of the OXOX Hotel, reopen the closed boss door, and move back far enough in the stage to die and get a game over, allowing you to start the stage over with the jetpack. Pixel thought of this, and should you use it to go to the secret area, you won't find anything except Mizutani commenting on how impetuous you are.
  • Disc-One Final Boss:
    • "Dark 2" (the giant Negativus Legatia blob) serves as this in normal mode, where it's supposedly the source of the Negativus Legatia, but after defeating it, Kaeru's exit is interrupted, and the problem becomes infinitely worse by the time he makes it back.
    • Since Zangyou mode contains redesigned levels and a completely different storyline with a new final boss, the final boss of Normal mode is this for the game overall.
  • Doppelgänger Spin: The final boss's second form pulls this off.
  • Double Jump: The jetpack grants this. Notably, depending on how you're moving when you activate it, it'll either work as a diagonal boost or an upwards boost.
  • Dummied Out: Editing the game files allows you to access a "Death Beam" weapon, which rapid-fires wide shots that deal 99 damage per hit. This is enough to kill almost every enemy in a single hit, and most bosses in two or three. Like many dummied-out weapons in games, this was probably designed to help the developer blitz through levels while debugging/testing, and was never intended to be accessible by a normal player.
  • Expy: The first boss is one of Omega from Cave Story.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: Fire/Burner/Melter, the final weapon gotten in a normal playthrough. It's got the worst range of all the weapons even at max level, and is also useless underwater, but it can destroy certain projectiles, deals damage pretty quickly, and gains an Orbiting Particle Shield as the Melter. It's also the only weapon that can destroy ice obstacles.
  • Foreshadowing: The first screen of Stage 6 has some clocks. Its boss is also one.
  • Funny Animal: The protagonist is a frog, and his boss and his scientist co-worker are both cats.
  • Furry Female Mane: Nanao has a full head of hair, despite being a cat. None of the other characters have hair.
  • Flies = Evil: When Nanao is possessed, she becomes surrounded by flies in addition to suffering from Body Horror. They even serve as attack animals in Nanao's boss fight.
  • Flying Saucer: The final (and only) boss of Pink Heaven is one.
  • Gainax Ending: Zangyou mode. The final boss shifts through some pretty bizarre forms. When the boss is finally defeated, a phone appears which somehow calls the company Nanao worked for in the past, causing the overtime work to disappear from the present.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: In the hard mode ending, if you beat the final boss while wearing the jacket (which is one of the game's achievements), you will continue to wear it during the ending cutscene, and other characters will comment on the fact that it is too hot to be wearing that.note 
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: The mini-boss of Hekichi Plateau ("Dark 1") is a Negativus Legatia blob that hides up in the vents of a frozen factory. There are five vents in the arena, and the boss can appear out of any one and fly to another. Shooting the boss slows it briefly, but it becomes faster as it loses health, produces a spread of "things" whenever it retreats, and periodically drops down from a vent and rolls across the floor.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: The Work Producing Machine seen in Zangyou Mode appears to be primarily based on a laser printer, but its pincer-like appendages make it reminiscent of this trope as well.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Several of the bosses. Most strikingly, the bizarre alarm clock/bird monster that you fight from the back of a train while it chases the train.
  • Hearts Are Health: How Kaeru's health is represented. This extends to enemies dropping healing hearts and the Auto-Revive item being called a "Heart Jar".
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: The hard mode is known as Zangyou Mode. note .
  • Infinity -1 Sword: The Lazer Uzi, the final upgrade to the Pea Shooter. While it doesn't do quite as much damage as the Kuro Blaster and only fires straight ahead, it's still the strongest of the four base weapons at maximum level, requires less effort to obtain, and can be used in all three modes.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The game's only secret weapon, the Kuro Blaster. It's the strongest weapon in the game damage-wise, and the only one that passes through walls, but obtaining and leveling it requires accessing three well-hidden secret areas that can only be reached in Omake Mode.
  • Intelligible Unintelligible: Nanao. Her subordinates seem to understand what she's saying, but the player only sees a dialogue box filled with squiggly lines instead of text.
  • It's All Upstairs from Here:
    • The lead-up to the final boss of Normal mode involves ascending to the roof of the C&F building.
    • The final section of the final level of Zangyou mode consists of a tower leading to a boss, then a ladder of office furniture leading to the final boss, after which a platform lifts you to the boss's second phase, and then further into the clouds for its final form.
  • Lighter and Softer: Surprisingly, the story of Zangyou Mode is this relative to that of Normal Mode. It revolves around a shadowy figure and his mysterious "work producing machine". It has some creepy elements, but not to the same extent as Normal Mode's story.
  • Magikarp Power
    • The Repeater (the first upgrade to the Pea Shooter) is outclassed by the Fan overall, since it deals roughly the same damage with a bigger projectile size, and it costs less to upgrade overall; the other two weapons introduced afterwards also have wider roles than the Repeater. However, putting money into the Repeater upgrades it to the Lazer for a massive damage upgrade, which can then be upgraded to the Lazer Uzi, making it the strongest weapon of the main four.
    • The Kuro Blaster starts with great damage, but has the range of the starting Pea Shooter. Finding the other parts of it drastically increases its usability by adding range and damage.
  • Mean Boss: Nanao, crossing over with Cats Are Mean. Ultimately subverted, though, as when she's not possessed she's not actually mean, just sorta grumpy and irritable. She's fairly unpleasant most of the time, but when the final boss' Defeat Equals Explosion lands the protagonist in the hospital, she visits him and brings him flowers.
  • Minus World: The "glitched" Kuro Blaster areas in Omake Mode pay homage to this phenomenon.
  • Mythology Gag: The second hard mode level in Pink Heaven looks very similar to the Sacred Grounds from Cave Story.
  • Nameless Narrative: Most of the game is this. The company president is simply known as "The President", while the protagonist and his co-workers don't even seem to have a title they are referred to by. However, there is a secret cast roll (found after finishing the final glitched area in Omake Mode) that lists names for the characters, and the bosses have names listed in the code (the names can be found on this page).
  • New Game+: Omake Mode, which is unlocked by clearing Zangyou Mode and telling Mizutani that you weren't satisfied with your playthrough when he asks. He sends you back to the start of Normal Mode with all your weapons and the jetpack, but only a single heart (health can still be upgraded). Other than a few harmless, invincible creatures being added to the levels, the only major difference is that the final level lets you access Cat & Frog Inc.'s basement floor, replacing the normal final bosses with a Boss Rush initiated by Mizutani. There's one other addition; by using later items in earlier levels, it's possible to get past some barriers and discover three different "glitched" bonus levels, each of which houses an upgrade for the Kuro Blaster.
  • No-Damage Run:
    • Each game mode has an achievement for winning the game while wearing the jacket, an item that serves as a one-hit shield. There's a jacket to be found in every final level, so the main challenge comes from defeating the final bosses without taking any hits.
    • In Normal and Zangyou modes, the "one-credit clear" variant (play through the whole game without running out of lives and continuing) is also an achievement.
    • In Pink Hour, you need to keep the Important Document intact for the best ending. The document shields you from damage and breaks just like the jacket does.
  • Obliquely Obfuscated Occupation: It's not entirely clear what the protagonist's job actually is, except that it apparently involves lots of running around shooting stuff. This is lampshaded early in the game, where one of his co-workers asks another what his job actually is. Apparently his job title is listed as "custodial sciences", which sounds sorta like a euphemism for "janitor".
  • Oddly Small Organization: Cat & Frog, Inc. is based in a spacious 4-story office building, yet seems to consist of only 6 people: Its president, the frog protagonist, his scientist co-worker, the pink Office Lady, and two shopkeepers.
  • Office Lady: Comomo serves as one. It's not clear what exactly she is, except that she's pink.
  • One-Winged Angel: The final boss of Zangyou mode does this for the third phase of the fight, abandoning his previous roughly humanoid form to turn into a giant angry face that shoots telephones.
  • Orbiting Particle Shield:
    • Using the Melter (the fire weapon's final upgrade) causes two fireballs to start orbiting around you. They damage enemies and block some enemy projectiles, and can themselves be launched as projectiles by releasing the trigger.
    • Kurono surrounds himself with a shield of spinning phones in his final phase, which block bullets and deal contact damage. To get rid of them, Kaeru needs to activate the rotary phones that appear on incoming platforms, which will destroy the shielding phones after a delay.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: Pink Heaven appears to have been a dream of Comomo, until Tsubasa returns her parasol to her and brings up what happened yesterday.
  • Palette Swap:
    • Kaeru's color changes depending on the game mode. In Normal Mode, he's green, in Zangyou Mode, he's blue, and in Omake Mode, he's yellow.
    • In the first six of Zangyou mode's seven levels, the bosses are heavily based on their normal mode counterparts. Visually, some (but not all) of these are just simple recolors.
    • In the train station level, the NPCs at the shop, and also at the hospital you end up at if you run out of lives, use a weird inverted color palette.
  • Parasol Parachute: Comomo gets one in Pink Heaven if you choose a certain option while talking to Mizutani at the end of Stage 1. It’s required to get the better of the two endings.
  • The Pawns Go First: The boss fight in the Greenery Zone starts with Kaeru fighting the one-eyed mudmen enemies that appear late in the level as they pop out of the mud; killing one takes off health from the boss's life bar. After enough of them are killed, a King Mook version of the mudmen (known in the code as "Gorgon") burrows out of the ground, and uses the rest of the life bar as its health.]]
  • Pinball Projectile: All forms of the Bubble bounce off of surfaces indefinitely until they hit an enemy or a fixed period of time has passed, and the final upgrade for the Fan shoots a spread of 4 shurikens that can each ricochet once.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Comomo the pink office lady befriends the blue Tsubasa.
  • Pet Monstrosity: The final boss of Normal Mode is Nanao's office pet, a Negativus Legatia that grows massive (and glitchy) over the course of the story.
  • Pet the Dog: Nanao is usually fairly unpleasant, but during the epilogue, when Kaeru is recovering in the hospital from his recent injuries, she shows up to bring him flowers. This is by far the nicest thing she does in the entire game (though to be fair, she spends most of the game posessed).
  • Prequel: Pink Hour takes place shortly before Kero Blaster starts (and came out at least a month before the game to serve as a demo). Of note is that it features a hostile Negativus Legatia, which ties into Kero Blaster's plot.
  • Punny Name: The Kuro Blaster. "Kuro" is the Japanese word for "dark" (fitting for a weapon powered by the "Negativus Legatia"), but it's also very close to the game's title.
  • Recursive Canon: Kero Blaster is a game in both Pink Hour and Pink Heaven. Pink Hour is a game in Pink Hour.
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: On normal mode, the final boss's second form is fought under a red sky.
  • Retraux: Would hardly be a Studio Pixel game without this. It has low-res pixel art graphics and chiptune music.
  • Salaryman: The frog protagonist is characterized as one of these.
  • Schizo Tech: A relatively minor example — in this setting they've invented teleporters and ray guns, yet they don't appear to have invented cellular phones. In fact, all the telephones shown in the game appear to be 1960s-style rotary phones.
  • Sequential Boss:
    • When you come to the end of the final level, first you have to fight the possessed, horribly deformed company president. Then, after defeating her, she reverts to a less-freakish, less-swelled up form, but gets a new health bar and continues the fight with a completely different attack pattern. When you win this fight, she completely returns to normal which would make you think that it's over. However, she then shortly afterward is eaten by a glitch monster, which is the true final boss. However, as a mercy, if you run out of lives and have to start the level over during the third phase, when you get back to the end of the level you don't have to re-fight the first two.
    • The final boss of hard mode is also a three-phase fight. Unlike in the normal mode, you must beat all three phases in one life.
  • Shielded Core Boss: In her first phase, possessed Nanao only takes damage when hit directly, which requires shooting off all of the Negativus Legatia blobs covering her body. They reform after Nanao pushes herself back to the opposite side of the screen.
  • Shout-Out: The crab enemies in the train station level, which get angry and charge at you when hit, appear to be a reference to the "Sidestepper" enemies from Mario Bros..
  • Single-Use Shield: The jacket. In addition to protecting you from a single hit, it's also warm and quite dapper!
  • Skippable Boss:
    • The start of White Laboratories features a fake bottomless pit at the very start, and falling into it triggers a fight with a jetpack-wearing, rock-tossing mole. If you manage to jump across the pit the first time, the mole can be avoided. There's little reason to not fight it, since it's weak, it drops a money bag when it dies, and its room features one of the secret areas in Omake Mode.
    • In Omake Mode, the bosses and mini-bosses of Hinterland Fort, OXOX Hotel, and White Laboratories can be skipped by taking the alternate routes through secret areas. You still have to fight a Shield Plant in Hinterland Fort's secret (the difference is that it's invisible) and White Laboratories features an alternate boss fight with a glitched version of Kurono's second phase.
    • In Pink Hour, this applies to the boss at the end of the game. You can bypass it by just jumping over it.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Hekichi Plateau has various ice and snow-based enemies and hazards, on top of some parts of the level involving slippery frozen floors.
  • Some Dexterity Required: A fairly minor example, which isn't strictly necessary to complete the game — while all weapons are capable of fully automatic fire, all weapons, especially when upgraded, can fire a good deal faster when repeatedly mashing the trigger button than when simply holding it down. While this sometimes allows to wear down a boss's health bar more quickly, it can also make it harder to dodge and attack at the same time, especially since you can only strafe while holding down the trigger.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Cave Story. Both are Run-and-Gun type games using a strong Retraux aesthetic with a variety of unique upgradeable weapons, and a healthy dose of Surprise Creepy. Also, a few of the music tracks in it are remixed from Cave Story.
  • Spread Shot: The Quad, the second upgrade for the Fan, shoots out four projectiles in a spread, and the same goes for the final upgrade. The Kuro Blaster's final form also has a bit of spread.
  • Stealth Pun: The protagonist's boss ends up being a boss fight.
  • Surprise Creepy: The game's description is "An indie classically-styled 2D side scrolling action game packed with adventure. Starring a salaryman (bipedal frog) who collects a variety of weapons, fights outlandish monsters and visits strange lands on his business trips." From the silly sounding premise, you would expect a lighthearted game. You wouldn't expect it to have a swarm of Blob Monster nearly bringing about the downfall of civilization, and the protagonist's boss getting possessed and horribly deformed by one of them. It develops a vaguely ominous feel fairly early on, and only grows creepier as the game progresses.
  • Tick Tock Tune: The music for the Trayne Station level starts with a steady ticking sound before the music proper starts. The track is titled "Time Table", and the level has a lot of clocks lying around.
  • Underwater Boss Battle:
    • Dekaigyo the giant fish is fought in a half-underwater arena. Going underwater to attack it is faster than staying above, but it's also much harder to dodge while swimming.
    • Puddie, the Train Station mid-boss, is entirely underwater. However, when it's fought in Zangyou Mode, it's in a dry room, and the fight changes to accommodate that.
  • The Unintelligible: Nanao's speech is total gibberish at the start of the game, leading the player to suspect something is up early on. After the final boss, it's revealed that no, she just talks like that all the time.


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