A review by Jeremy Hardin
– Blaster Master: Enemy Below
– 3DS Virtual Console
– Review Copy courtesy of Nintendo
Jason and his legendary battle vehicle, SOPHIA, are back again to save the world. A scientific organization has created a life form whose base structure was a tissue sample from a former foe Jason was supposed to have destroyed. The life form has grown beyond the organization’s control, and intends to wage war on all humans. Using the strong weapons and high jumping power of SOPHIA, Jason must head to the subterranean region where the life form resides and eliminate everything in his path. In narrow places, Jason must exit SOPHIA and move through catacombs on foot. In the catacombs, you control Jason in the top-down view and battle with guns and grenades.*
*Story quoted from Nintendo’s website.
Gameplay and Controls
Blaster Master: Enemy Below has been closely associated, even defined as a ‘Metroidvania’ style game. Since this is a non-linear, side-scrolling game boasting power-ups, abilities, and backtracking, I have to agree with the term. Players take control of Jason as he pilots his tank, SOPHIA throughout 8 different underground lairs, located deep in the forest. While in your tank, you are able to jump high and shoot both horizontally and vertically. In each level, Jason will come across areas which are inaccessible by his tank. In order to proceed, he must leave the safe confines of the tank and plow ahead on foot in search of whatever it is he needs to progress. In these areas, the view shifts from side-scrolling to top-down. You’ll be able to move around in either of the four primary directions as you shoot enemies, avoid obstacles, and fight bosses. Speaking of bosses, they are tough, heck the whole game is tough. Speaking of tough (repetitive much…), you’ll be doing plenty of exploring and backtracking, as you don’t have a map to assist you. You’ll need to rely on your memory or a series of trial-and-error decisions as you search the levels, eventually obtaining power-ups, which will allow you to backtrack and access areas which were previously inaccessible. Thankfully, there is the inclusion of the password system which is quite helpful. Plus, because this is a 3DS Virtual Console title, you also have the option to use Restore Points. These two options combined go a long way to ensuring you kick the crap out of and obliterating your enemies. Have fun!
Visuals and Sound
The graphics in Enemy Below look really similar to the original NES graphics, with some minor enhancements. I’d say the biggest difference is the actual layout, which has been changed from the original. You’ll notice that the animations look good in both the side-scrolling and top-down sections. Plus, the variations of the themes in each of the 8 levels is implemented really well. To sum it up, in general, if you were a fan of the graphics from the original, you’ll most certainly appreciate the graphics in Enemy Below. As for the music, I found it to be quite enjoyable as I listened to the variety of tunes throughout the levels. The sound effects are pretty good too. Overall, the graphics and audio complement the overall gameplay.
Final Score: 9 out of 10
Blaster Master: Enemy Below is a fun and challenging addition, not only to the virtual console service, but to your gaming library as well.
+Remake of original classic title
+’Metrodivania’ style of gameplay
-Difficulty is quite high at times
-No diagonal movement in top down sections