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A.P.I Review: BLASTO
Developer: Sony OPTIONS: S.SHOT
SCREENSHOTS:
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Sony 1-2 Player
Game Type: Platform Memory Card
Review Date: August 1998 Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

Ever see the Bugs Bunny cartoon... you know, the one with Marty the
Martian.  The one where Bugs is trying to stop Marty from using some
kind of Z22 demodulator or whatever it was called, from blowing up the
Earth.  During that cartoon Bugs and Marty are running around in an
alien landscape that consisted of sidewalks that are suspended in space.

If you know the cartoon that I am talking about, you now have a perfect
mental image of what the game Blasto looks like.  The images could have
been lifted right from this episode...and that's a good thing.

Just substitute Bugs with Blasto, a Dudley DoRight kinda of guy.  Also
substitute saving the Earth with saving babes and you have yourself an
interactive cartoon where you get to control the good guy in a wild romp
that will take you from outer space to underground caves, all the way to
strange planets.  During your adventure you will encounter all sorts of
aliens that will try to stand between you and your ultimate goal of
saving those babes!

So strap on your laser pistol, sharpen that wit and get ready to whomp
some alien butt cause Blasto has come to save the day (or at least try
to!)...

Genre

Blasto is a 3D 3rd person action title.  It is a "go anywhere" type of
game limited only by the boarders of empty space or stuff you just can't
get around.  The 3D illusion created by this title is a good one. 

Graphics

The graphics in Blasto have a real retro look to them.  Everything
appears to be Gouraud shaded, which gives the game a rather stark and
"cartoony" look to it.  Texture mapping has been left to a minimum, used
just to add some flavor here and there.  I mean this seriously when I
say it truly looks like you're in a cartoon world.

The special effects used in this game are dazzling.  There are outstanding
particle effects that occur when you shoot an alien and they disintegrate 
or when you shatter some glass or when your laser skips off an object 
or...well you get the picture, it looks awesome!  There also appears 
to be a decent anti-aliasing software routine at work that does a pretty 
good job smoothing out the pixilation.  

The planets that are hanging out in the background of the first 3 levels
are outstanding with truly vibrant colors.  There is also liberal use of
transparencies throughout the game like when you are swimming and diving
through water, etc.

I really thought the developers did a super job portraying a different
style and graphic approach in this game.  The closet comparison I could
draw would be the failed Bubsy 3D game, but to be honest it really can't
touch the special touches this game possesses.

Sounds and Effects

The music seems to have been inspired by the old cornball Sci-Fi "B"
movies or Flash Gordon episodes.  Lot's of spooky overtones with
cascading keyboard effects can be found throughout the title.  There is
also some grand Star Wars style music that accompanies the start of the
game and can be heard throughout various levels.

The sound effects are brilliant with superb laser effects, echoing
footsteps clanking across metallic corridors and the sweet cooing of the
babes as you rescue them.  This is all very nice but the real topper is
the magnificent voice-overs for Blasto that have been provided by the
late, great Phil Hartman.  The one liners are a riot and a welcome
addition to the title.

Playability

Gameplay in Blasto is perhaps the biggest complaint I have with this
title.  Movement is somewhat clunky and labored at times.  Jumping
accurately is an art form all in itself and the camera angles, while
actually done quite well, occasionally overshoot their mark at precisely
the worst possible moment...but I'm getting ahead of myself here.

The premise behind Blasto is a simple one.  You are a righteous
do-gooder whose job is to rescue babes that have been captured by an
evil alien armada.  You start off the game at the spaceport and make
your way along sidewalks that apparently hang in deep space.  Fall off
and you are greeted with a picture of a skull, which means you have just
expended a life, and a one-liner from Blasto as he falls into space (how
can you actually "fall" in space?).  

As you walk through the spaceport there are various buttons that must be
pressed to open passageways somewhere else on that level.  Sometimes you
need to backtrack after pushing a button and try to figure out just what
has been opened and where, but luckily for the most part there are
floating platforms that can used to get you to your next destination.  

Littered about the play-field are various power-ups for health and ammo.
There is also a nice armor power-up that morphs Blasto into a shiny gold
superhero for a short amount of time.  While in this state you are
invincible against enemy fire, but can still fall off the edges of stuff
and die.        

Now here lies the problem...there is lots of floating, moving platforms
that you must jump on in the first few levels to proceed further in the
game.  Later levels have you edging along cliffs and jumping over
crevasses and such.  This would be fine if the control in these
situations was spot-on, but alas it is not.  There is a very definite
lag from the time you press the jump button to the time Blasto actually
decides to go airborne, often resulting in a missed platform and you
plummeting to your untimely death.     

It's a good thing you get multiple continues (I believe there are five)
and five lives per continue because with all of the missteps you are
going to suck up those lives quite fast.          

As with anything, you do actually get used to the delay and learn to
compensate for it.  Once accomplished the game actually starts to become
quite enjoyable and challenging in a good way.

Throughout the game you will encounter all sorts of weird alien life
forms that are totally bent on your destruction.  Of course Blasto being
the super hero that he is always has his laser pistol at the ready.
Firing off shots is a breeze and requires minimal aiming to hit your
target.  Once hit, the enemy will either break apart or disintegrate into
a million little pieces.  My favorite shot of the game is the exploding
headshot!  To do this you press and hold the fire button.  Doing this
pumps up the power in your laser to critical levels...while you are
holding the button line up an alien and release the button.  If done
correctly it will blow the poor alien scums head clean off.  The
resulting animation consists of a staggering headless body and fine
wisps of smoke escaping from the neck.  Hehehe.

You also have your customary end of the level boss match-up to deal with
as well.  Some of the bosses are tough, but once you get their pattern
down you can make mince meat out of them. 

At any rate, for the most part this is one pretty damn good game.  Once
you get past the quirks, and there are several of them, you are rewarded
with a unique game that has those wonderful little touches laced
throughout it that make a game so special.  For example, I thought the
space bathroom scene was a riot...there's other stuff as well just
waiting for you to stumble across them.

Value for Money

Blasto is a pretty long game with rather huge levels...it's not
something you will finish in a few hours.  It also offers a good
challenge, sometimes due to the rather poor controls...

Unfortunately, once you finish the game there isn't really much reason
to go back and pick it up again.  Its linear approach generally means
that once you're done...you are done.
Opinion
TOM
GRAPHICS: 17/20 Overall I would rate Blasto a pretty enjoyable experience. Once I got used to rather clumsy controls and learned to compensate for them, I was able to settle in and really appreciate all that the game had to offer.

The graphics are retro and rather surreal and do a good job in portraying the overall outer space theme of this game.

The sound effects are brilliant and you are even treated to Phil Hartman's voice as icing on the cake.
SOUND: 9/10
PLAYABILITY: 44/50
VALUE: 13/20
OVERALL 83%

 

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