Blaster Master Zero 2 is another of Nintendo’s “surprise” releases, this time during their spring Nindies direct. Blaster Master Zero 2, the sequel to the Switch launch title Blaster Master Zero, which itself was a reboot of Blaster Master, and has nothing to do with the sequel to the original, Blaster Master 2, other than letting the player control a character who I assume is a master of the blasters he is using, and may win an award for name of a game that I’ve typed backwards most times in a single review. Developed by Inti Creates, BMZ2 is another new-retro game that will have the player doing lots of platforming, exploring, and shooting aliens. Is it worth your time to pick it up and give it a go? Let’s find out in our review of Blaster Master Zero 2 for the Nintendo Switch.
BMZ2 finds the main character of the original, Jason Frudnick, continuing on a few months after the true ending of the previous reboot. Though he defeated the previous big baddie, the Mutant Core, his alien friend and partner Eve has been corrupted by it and is slowly deteriorating. Along with their alien frog friend Fred, they set off in their new battle tank, space ship combo, the GAIA-SOPHIA, looking to find a cure for Eve before it is too late.
Gameplay is mostly the same as Blaster Master Zero. The player will go back and forth between side-scrolling platformer sections that feel like a Metroidvania game, and top-down dungeons that feel like the original Legend of Zelda. Levels are also selected from an overworld map where a player will go to different planets throughout different galaxies as they find the coordinates to them, or jump through wormholes they have unlocked to progress through the game. The side scrolling will mostly be done inside of the GAIA-SOPHIA battle tank, but occasionally there will be small areas that will be unreachable without disembarking, requiring you to explore as the much weaker, much more fragile player character. There will also be dungeon entrances throughout the game for you to enter and begin the top-down dungeon portion. These dungeons can lead to anything from coordinates to a new planet, to a boss guarding a new power up for you to obtain. Power ups can affect either section of the game, with some adding new ways to move about the side-scrolling section, adding new equipment to the tank, or adding new attacks to your character during the dungeon portion. New to this installment is the GAIA-SOPHIA’s Gaea system, which lets you recover your tank’s SP (used for special attacks) by falling long distances onto solid ground. Also new to this game is the ability to counter attacks while in a top-down dungeon, doubling as an excuse to give Jason a sweet cape. Though this isn’t explained outside of a picture in the “How to Play” menu inside of the game, pressing the counter button when an enemy has a crosshair over them will cause you to counter attack that enemy, regardless of where it is. Your action will change depending on which counter you are using, as you will discover more as you play.
Playing through BMZ2 was fantastic. Any complaints I had about the game were more minor design choices, which were used to emulate the design of the games of yester-year. The first boss that I walked into kept running me over within seconds in my first few attempts, but quickly figuring out and mastering the different guns and the counter ability lead to me beating him and feeling much more satisfied than if I had just run over him on my first try. The boss following him turns into a gauntlet of multiple boss fights, requiring you to take on more than one copy at a time and adding spikes to the level so you have to watch where you are going. New abilities will be brought up through conversation and teach you how to use them for the most part, but some are left for you to figure out how to use. This definitely isn’t an approach that everyone will appreciate, as I had trouble before I learned how to effectively use the new counter system, but this only took a few minutes and I had a lot of fun with it afterwards. Each section of the game, both the side scroller and the top-down dungeons, were a lot of fun to play through. Neither of them felt like quality was given up on one to focus on the other, nor did either feel like a chore. They blended together smoothly and were challenging enough to keep you focused, but had a good mix of switching it up so that you wouldn’t get bored with either. There are a lot of collectibles for you to find, including optional items that you will be rewarded with for exploring different paths.
Blaster Master Zero 2 does a great job of coming off as a fun, difficulty-laden retro game of years past, while not feeling like its cheating the player with artificial difficulty. While some may look for a game a little more relaxed, those who want a combo Metroidvania side-scrolling dungeon crawling top-down shooter with lots to explore and lots to shoot at, skipping Blaster Master Zero 2 would be doing yourself a disservice. At a price of only $10 in the eShop, you’ll more than get your money’s worth.
Note: Our Nintendo Switch copy of Blaster Master Zero 2 was provided by PR