Review: Blast Corps (N64)

By Drew Wilson

Blast Corps is a rather unique game where the objective is to level city blocks to allow a carrier full of more explosives through in time. While this action game is explosive in nature, is it a good game to play?

Blast Corps is a rather unique game that was released in 1996. The game basically pits the player against the environment.

The plot of this is that a missile carrier has locked itself on a set course through various environments including through numerous buildings throughout. You objective is to take various demolition vehicles, such as a ramdozer, dump truck, skyfall and thunderfist, and destroy numerous buildings and remove all obstacles in the various carrier levels.

Also thrown in the game for good measure are various “training” levels that are sometimes only unlocked by finding the various communication terminals – some found on the training levels themselves, but most found on the various carrier levels throughout the game.

After you complete the carrier levels, you gain an additional gold medal by clearing out all buildings, finding all Radiation Disposal Units (RDUs) and freeing all survivors.

Later on in the game, you are tasked to find six scientists hidden on certain courses of the game. Finding one will allow you to get a hint as to where another scientist might be located.

Once you obtain gold medals, you are then allowed to gain access to a handful of space related levels.

The game then goes into a sort of “test your skills” mode by challenging you to clear all the buildings in the carriers path in a set amount of time. A note to help improve your times: You don’t necessarily have to push the various blocks in the various holes. The objective is simply to clear out the buildings in question.

Once you’ve obtained all golds, the game then challenges you to go for platinum (which is the hardest medal to obtain on the various levels). If you achieve all platinum, you obtain the final promotion that is simply called, “You can stop now”.

I have to say, this game was actually a very fun one to play. I think the fun only tapers off when you are going off to achieve platinum on persistently difficult levels. At that point, in attempts to complete the game in the past, I’ve just given up playing. The fun level is inversely related to the difficulty of the game. Still, replaying the first portions of the game is still a nice fun little thing for me every so often, so, the replay value is still there.

Having said that, this game does have it’s downsides. One of the downsides is that a number of the levels are repeated. You’ll notice that the levels all have different names, yet when you enter the level, you realize that it’s just a repeat of a previous level, only with a different vehicle. Even some of the training levels recycle the same levels over and over again. That’s not to say that there aren’t unique levels such as the two Pac-Man like levels and the level that imitates pool with the TNT blocks. There is enough of a variety for the player to stay interested, it’s just unfortunate that there is so much repetition in the design.

Another thing that hampered gameplay is the sometimes glitchy controls. You get out of one vehicle and you point the controls to go a certain direction, rather than the driver walking in that certain direction, the driver can, instead, walk in a full circle and sometimes even inadvertently get back in the vehicle you don’t need at that moment in time. This can be especially frustrating when operating the crane – which makes a number of appearances on some levels. You place what you want on a certain part of the field, then you wind up doing the circle run and automatically raise whatever you placed back up – costing precious time having to place the item back down. There is a way to avoid some of this by getting the drive to move in the direction of the carrier, but the glitch can pop up elsewhere. For instance, if you’re playing the Magma Peak level, sometimes, skyfall will do the circle glitch while moving around the volcano. This can have fatal consequences if the foot of your flying robot happens to touch the red hot lava-filled walls (which causes instant death).

An additional downside is the weird physics throughout the game. When some vehicles are in the air, they can level pretty much any building in sight. While this is a nice plus, the negative to this is that the vehicle also drives slower. So, if you take a jump, you’ll find yourself waiting for the car to stop bouncing around before you can hit the gas to try and make a fast time. While that’s a minor complaint at the beginning of the game, it’s a much larger complaint on the space levels where you can spend 10 to 20 seconds waiting for all four tires to stay on the ground before you can drive off and make up for lost time – if possible.

Another glitch I found to be mildly annoying is that, sometimes, when trying to angle your dump truck to level another building, sometimes, the back of it hangs up in a wall. It sometimes takes a few seconds to figure out how to get your truck “unstuck” from an impervious wall (such as, oddly enough, the train tracks on Diamond Sands).

Besides that, I really have little to complain about in this game. These are all more or less minor complaints compared to the amount of overall fun you can expect to get out of this game.

The graphics are quite nice, although the style of mostly top-down game play makes it more tricky to figure out where specifically to go. On some levels, the camera is fixed which makes it even more tricky to get a faster time as you try and cut as many corners as possible. The insides of buildings are a gradient grey colour block rather than some nicely done textures that could make the game pop even more. Still, the building textures otherwise are very well done and the vehicles look anywhere between being decent enough to cool looking. With the smoke effects and the colourful explosions, the graphics are nicely done overall.

The music is probably the best part of the game. It can be anywhere from serene such as what you hear on Echo Marches to fast paced such as the Shuttle Clear level. I liked the music featured in the game and you can even just groove to some of the music without actually playing the game. The sound effects were also quite well done such as the ticking you hear when you touch a TNT block and the various sounds you hear when you crash through buildings. I’ve got nothing to really complain about in the sound effects department.

Overall, despite a few annoying glitches that can eat up valuable time as you try and post something decent enough to get gold, this game is quite worth checking out. My interest in the game only fades off when I’m asked to try and get platinum on all the levels, but otherwise, I enjoyed it. My only complaint was that this game never got a sequel. Given what kind of power consoles have today, it makes me scratch my head wondering why the developers felt that this is all a game with this concept can do as I don’t really agree – especially all these years later after the fact.

Overall
Furthest point in game: First time around playing, I got about half to three quarters of all possible platinum medals. Second time around, I automatically earned seven platinum medals, but didn’t bother trying to get any more again.

General gameplay: 20/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 5/5

Overall rating: 82%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85



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