Reviewed by Scott McCall
Being one of the original dozen games that debuted with the
Nintendo 64 back at the 1995 Shoshinkai show, Blast Corps
surprisingly emerged on the scene. Developed by Rare, who were
recently accustomed to making countless DKC and KI games,
Blast Corps has given the company a chance to hark back to
its 8-bit days and make an original, addictive game.
Blast Corps can best be classified as an action/puzzle game.
The action takes place in a 3/4 overhead view. The camera can
be rotated 360 degrees and can zoom in and out several levels.
All levels in the game (except the bonus levels) require a path
to be cleared for the runaway missile carrier. However, some
levels also require a puzzle to be solved along the way. Herein lies
what makes Blast Corps so original, addicting and challenging.
You are a member of Blast Corps, the leader in the field of heavy
duty demolition. A pair of defective nuclear missiles, en route to
a safe detonation site, have begun to leak. Badly damaged, the
carrier automatically locks onto the most direct route. The flood
of radiation prevents anyone from getting close to the runaway
carrier, and people fear that the slightest jolt could trigger a
catastrophic explosion. It's now up to the Blast Corps to clear
the way, gather a team of six scientists, and ultimately counter
the threat of nuclear winter.
There are a total of 12 to 15 vehicles (depending on how you classify
them) at your disposal. These are the vehicles that can do damage:
the Ramdozer, which can push items and destroy small buildings; the
Backlash, which can only to do some major damage if its back-end slides
into a building; the Skyfall, which can only do major damage if it jumps
down from above; the Thunderfist, which is a large, one-handed robot
that somersaults into buildings; the Cyclone Suit, which is a small
robot that can tumble into buildings; the J-Bomb, which is a third
robot that does damage by rocketing above buildings and stomping
them; the Ballista, which is a two-wheeled cycle that shoots missiles;
and the Sideswipe, which is a weird hybrid vehicle that punches
buildings from its left and right sides.
There are also several vehicles that cannot do any type of major
damage but are useful for other tasks. There are the race cars
(two types), van (seemingly inspired by the A-Team), police car, train,
boat and platform crane. The race cars, van and police car may be
used as a means of moving from one location to another very quickly.
The train is useful for transporting vehicles to previously unreachable,
far away locations. The boat may be needed so the runaway carrier can
cross a river. And the platform crane may be used to lift something
from one side to another.
Each of the vehicles in Blast Corps has slightly different control, but
they are all essentially the same. On the vehicles with wheels, the A
button is to move forward, the B button is to move backwards, the C
group is the camera control, and the Z button is used to stop and exit
the vehicle. You can use either the Control Pad or the Control Stick to
move on most, and the shoulder buttons (L & R) are used to sound
the horn, slide, turbo, shoot missiles or activate side punches,
depending on the vehicle. The robots do have slightly different control,
however. With the Thunderfist, press the A or B button to do a
somersault. With the Cyclone Suit, press the A or B button to tumble.
With the J-Bomb, press the A button to activate jets and the B button to
To different people, the control in Blast Corps will mean different
things. Some vehicles are easy to control (Ramdozer), while others
are downright difficult (Backlash). Most vehicles have more than
adequate control but can be a little imprecise at times. The major
problem is that the Backlash is one of the major vehicles in the
game. Many people will experience a lot of frustration trying to
control it. After all, the gameplay is supposed to make the game
challenging, not the control, right? However, some may see mastering
the vehicles as an added challenge to the game.
Blast Corps really shines in the most important department of any
game: gameplay. The actual game exhibits many qualities that can
be likened back to the 8-bit days. The game has clever level
designs, multiple vehicles to master, several tasks to accomplish,
lots of little secrets, and many other subtle touches that keep
the game fun, fresh and original.
Every main level in Blast Corps contains two tasks. The primary
task is to always make sure the runaway carrier makes it
safely to the end of the level. The secondary task is to destroy all
buildings, free all survivors and find all items.
In a very, very smart move, almost every detail in each level is
saved. For example, say you cleared a path for the missile carrier.
You can then go back to that very same level and explore it without
having to worry about the carrier. That's right, the game keeps
track of which buildings you knocked down and which ones you
didn't. It also keeps track of the various items, survivors, etc.,
which you may or may not have found. To ensure all these details
are saved, it's highly recommended you save your game on a
Controller Pak rather than the Game Pak.
All of the main levels contain buildings, survivors and RDUs
(Radiation Dispersal Units) that you can find and/or knock down.
Every time you complete or exit (through the 18-wheeler) a level,
the game will bring up an information screen that displays the
percentage of what you have found/knocked down. Some levels
also contain Communication Points that open up bonus levels.
Even more lucrative are the six scientists hidden in the game.
You must find all six so they can dispose of the nuclear missiles.
Doing damage and finding items will give you commendations.
Commendations come in gold, silver and bronze. The gold one is
worth three rank points, silver is worth two, and bronze is worth
one. Depending on how many rank points you have, you are assigned
a title such as "Rookie Wrecker" or "Expert Destroyer." You will
receive a promotion for every 12 rank points.
One gold commendation is given per level for clearing a path for
the carrier. A second commendation is awarded based on how
much you found/destroyed. Your second commendation will only
be gold if all survivors were rescued, all RDUs were found, and all
buildings were destroyed.
Besides the aforementioned ways to get commendations on the
main levels, there are commendations awarded on the bonus
levels. These are given out based on how much time it took you
to complete the bonus level. Furthermore, if you get gold on all
the levels, then other levels will become available. These levels
will also reveal the platinum commendation. Getting all platinum
commendations is the only way to truly complete the game.
Just to get an idea of the type of gameplay Blast Corps presents
to the player, I will use the "Echo Marches" board as an example.
To start off the level, I had to use the J-Bomb to clear out a haystack
and a few buildings. Then I had to rocket to this part with a train
track. After a little trouble figuring out what to do, I realized I
had to go over to this cave, get out of the robot, and walk through to
the other side. On that other side was a train that I had to move back
over to the other side so the runaway carrier could cross the train
tracks. Next I got off the train and had to move the race car that was
on the train so it wouldn't get hit. Besides, I needed to race over to my
J-Bomb suit that I left by the tunnel. Now there were some big buildings
I had to destroy to clear a path. After doing that, there was another
tunnel. This time, I had to rocket over it in my J-Bomb suit and saw
some water. I then had to rocket to this boat and move it between the
gap. That way the carrier could cross the water. But there was also a
car on the boat that had to be moved. Finally, after clearing a few more
buildings with my J-Bomb suit, the path for the whole level was cleared.
The graphics in Blast Corps are sweet. Although it can be difficult to
tell at times, everything in the game is made of polygons. This is
actually meant as a compliment. The polygons are so realistically
modeled that one might think they are sprites. The explosions in the
game are very cool, with multiple colors and patterns. And the game
just moves along at a very quick pace. There's no pop-up, clipping or
slowdown, either. The vehicles with tires also leave real-time skid
marks on the ground if you peel some rubber. Some might wish there
was more detail and animation, but the amazing amount of variety
helps make up for it.
One of the biggest concerns of Blast Corps for many was how the
view would be implemented. As mentioned higher up on the page,
you can rotate the camera 360 degrees and zoom in and out. The bad
news is that there are only several levels of zoom. Most will pick
the farthest out zoom that is not the "missile cam." However, one
might wish it was still even farther away. On the plus side, some
later levels have intelligently pre-programmed camera angles that
automatically zoom in and out. Speaking of the missile cam, it
enables you to look where the carrier is at in the level from a
sky-like view. Since it only shows the location of the carrier,
this view cannot really be used to destroy anything unless you so
happen to be around the carrier itself. Still, because of the difference
in control in this view, no one will want to use it to play the game.
Like usual, Rare has done another fine job with the sound in Blast
Corps. The sound effects of the buildings blowing up are decent,
some of the vehicles have horns, and the music is pretty nice, too.
There's some techno, hard rock, etc. -- the typical Rare mix.
Somewhat surprising is the amount of voice in the game. The other
members of the Blast Corps talk to you, and there is even a recycled
"Warning" sample from the Killer Instinct series. The characters
say such phrases as "I hope this works," "You're just trying to
impress me," "You running away or something?" and more. It's a nice touch.
What can I say? There's not much that needs to be improved in Blast
Corps. Some may wish the Backlash's control was different, but I
personally like the challenge of mastering it. Even though half of
the game's levels are bonus levels, this is still one of the longer
games for the next generation systems. And although a two-player
mode may seem cool, there just may not be any way to implement
it without hindering the game. The only real improvement that would
need be made is to include much more animation in the levels,
assuming that wouldn't hurt the frame rate.
There are not very many pleasant surprises in the video game
world. However, Blast Corps is just that -- a pleasant surprise. The
solid graphics that will take you back to your days playing in the sand,
the rich and varied sound that gets you grooving, the different
vehicles that beg to be mastered, the cunning level designs that
will test your every skill, and all the items that can be found and
destroyed make Blast Corps a thoroughly enjoyable gameplay experience.
Though it seems as if you don't get your money's worth in video
games anymore, with games relying too much on eye- and ear-candy,
Blast Corps is truly an exceptional value. The game may even make
you think back to the NES days. Back then, it was the gameplay that
made the game. And the gameplay certainly makes this game.
Graphics: 4.3 out of 5
Sound: 4.3 out of 5
Control: 3.8 out of 5
Gameplay: 4.5 out of 5
Lastability: 4.1 out of 5
Overall: 4.5 out of 5