A look back: Blast Corps
Cue Rare, one of the most prominent game developers of the Nintendo 64 era. Though no body knew it at the time, they would churn out terrific games later, such as Banjo-Kazooie, GoldenEye, and Perfect Dark. They’re also responsible for a couple NES classics you might remember…RC Pro-AM Racing, and Marble Madness. Unquestionably one of the premier developers of the time, it seemed like everything they touched was fun and addictive. Blast Corps was no exception.
You know how they say, “Don’t judge a game by it’s box art?” While very true, that’s exactly how I came to own Blast Corps. I had some extra money burning a hole in my pocket. And at this time the selection of N64 games was pretty slim pickin’s. Already having about half of the available library of games, there were few left that really appealed to me. The sports games weren’t really my thing, and heck, this one had trucks and crap blowing up, so it couldn’t be that bad right? So in one of my more whimsical purchases, I plopped down $70 cash and the game was mine.
Most of the ride home was spent analyzing the information on the back of the box and reading the instruction booklet trying to get an idea of what the game was all about. I was starting to feel a little more sure about my purchase as I read about some of the vehicles. The bulldozer, dumptruck, motorcycle that fires rockets (all with their own novelty names of course). It looked to be a fun packed game of destruction. All right by me!
After popping the game in for the first time, it’s not completely obvious what the game really is. The first level is real straight forward. Follow the arrow, and use the bulldozer to level all the buildings in the path of a Nuclear Transport locked on target. If it runs into anything it detonates and everybody dies. Clearing the path is quite easy, but then you’re quickly introduced to what all the levels have to offer in gameplay. You have to destroy all the buildings, free all survivors and collect all RDUs. (Radiation Disposal Units) Again this starts off very straight forward.
Gradually you’re introduced to the meat of the game, which is almost as much of a puzzle game as it is an action game. Many of the levels require you to take advantage of the specific abilities of your vehicle and even find a way for two vehicles to work together. For instance one level requires you to load the dozer onto a train. Drive the train to a dock. Unload the dozer. Operate a lift crane to lift the dozer to the opposite side of the tracks to push a TNT block into a building to complete the mission.
Another memorable level requires you to maneuver tugboats across a path, so the transport can safely cross multiple canal ways. But in order to line them all up correctly it requires you to move one tugboat, take a car back to another move the second boat, take the first boat back to the car…or something like that! There’s a gleeful satisfaction that comes when you figure something like that out. Most of the puzzles are fairly simple, but when you factor in the time constraint, the game can become VERY frantic at times!
When I picked this game up again recently, I was excited to relive every level over again. Unfortunately much of the excitement comes from not quite knowing exactly what you’re doing and watching the missile carrier steadily inch closer to destruction while you scramble to figure out what to do! Being cursed with the ability to remember only the most useless information, everything quickly came back to me, and many of the missions were disposed with ease. Not to say that the game isn’t fun any more, it most certainly is. Just rather you don’t get a second chance at a first impression.
Admittedly, there’s a few frustrations I’d rather not relive. Just when you think the game is conquered, and the final level complete…you’re sent…to the Moon! Sweet! Nothing like zipping around in a dump truck on the Moon in 1/6th gravity, pulling off sweet jumps! Beat that and it’s on to Mars, Venus, and Mercury for more insane levels. When you’re done with those, the game congratulates you then taunts you by saying “Now do it faster!” Aight then. I will. I recall spending hours upon hours going back just to get gold medals on every single mission, pulling my hair out on some. And upon finally getting that last gold, what reward do I receive? Just more taunting that says “Now go for Platinum!” OH YEAH!? F*(@& YOU!
This is one of the few games that the N64’s dated graphics have hardly any effect on the gameplay at all. Yeah most of the buildings have a very “cardboard box” look to them. But once you get into it, it’s more about clearing the path and solving the level. You’re not really paying attention to the details. You just gotta “level that thing” and figure out how to get “over there”. The sound is delightful and the sound track is about as goofy as the plotline. But Rare did what they did best at the time. Churn out a game that’s just too damn fun.