Blaster Master is one of those games that everyone's at least heard of, and they might even have played it once or twice on an emulator. I'm a big enough dork that I actually own the cartridge and an actual Nintendo to play it on.
Why do I like Blaster Master so much? I have no idea. For those of you unfamiliar with the game, I'll provide a quick and thoroughly incomplete introduction to the game.
According to the slide show at the beginning, our hero (Jason) has a pet frog (Fred) that somehow escapes his bowl and is immediately drawn to a crate of nuclear waste (sitting in Jason's backyard) where it grows to immense size, then hops down a nearby hole. So of course Jason jumps down the hole to chase him, and finds a tank and a goofy looking suit. He uses the suit (which fits perfectly) and the tank (which he automagically knows how to drive) to aid him in finding his frog.
Useless Blaster Master fact: Jason's tank is named Sophia the 3rd Nora MA-01 (check it on the pause screen)
I wish I could have made that up, but my mind doesn't work that way. I tend to ask questions like, "What was nuclear waste doing in this kid's back yard?" and, "Why did nobody put up a sign next to the hole warning people that it led to am underground world filled monsters mutated by radiation?"
So why do I like this game so much? That's a bit difficult to pin down. The graphics are certainly ordinary, although the Jason only levels are look significantly better, and the sound effects are adequate. However the music is actually pretty good. In fact, if you've only heard the music coming out of an emulator, you're depriving yourself of some of the best music the NES can produce.
The other thing that makes this game unusual is that you have to actually get out of your tank to explore some areas that the tank just simply can't get to, presenting a whole other set of obstacles to overcome. In the tank stages, enemies that took one or two shots with the tank cannon to destroy now take eight or nine with Jason's pea shooter, but once you enter the Jason only areas of the game it shifts from a 2D adventure platform game to a 2D overhead adventure game. This mode allows Jason to throw grenades (instead of jumping) and allows him to upgrade his gun. It's truly almost like you're playing a totally different game.
Finally, this game is just hard
. You get five continues and three lives per continue. Believe me, you'll use every single one of them the first six or seven hundred times you play this game. Once you get good, however, you need fewer continues, but the game takes so long to complete that it can swallow an entire afternoon before you know it.
So why do I like this game? Even with all this information that's still
a difficult question to answer. Maybe it's compelling backstory and the well-developed characters...
No, that's not it.
It has to be a combination of the difficulty (hard, but not so hard that it's impossible), it had some of the best music you could find on the NES, and the exploration elements (in and
out of the tank).
It's 2D (mostly), it's difficult, and it's fun. What else do you need?