Growing up, I never thought I’d be playing the Blaster Master series into my 30’s, but here I am heading out once again with a Frog and Tank. Blaster Master Zero 3 continues the adventure of Jason and Eve but raises the stakes higher than ever before. There’s a lot on the line in this entry, and given that it’s said to be the final entry, you can expect it to be the most difficult.
Blaster Master Zero 3 opens with Jason and Eve returning to planet Sophia, attacked and thrown into prison. However, Jason isn’t one to waste time and takes the opportunity to bust out and man G-Sophia which has been stripped of its upgrades. This leads him to Kane, who reveals that Eve is in a bad place of corruption as the mutant cells attack her body. If it’s discovered that she is the cause for a sudden mutant invasion on planet Sophia, then Kane will have no choice but to kill her.
However, Eve escaped, so Jason sets off to find her following a radar that leads him to her position. What’s discovered is that her DNA is somehow affected by the radar, which leads Jason to simply visit them all. Still, this is all tied into progression as areas are blocked off unless you have the proper upgrades. Traversal isn’t limited to only seeking necessary upgrades, though, as players can challenge themselves through optional dungeons that waver a high-risk reward system. Each floor tests your skills, and you can either leave at the end or continue to the next floor. The floor is capped off with a slight upgrade to speed and other various stats. These aren’t procedurally generated, but you lose everything and are sent back if you die on the last floor.
I will say that the opening of the game is probably the worst for long-time fans because G-Sophia is back to basic movement skills. However, some really cool upgrades are just waiting around the corner, introducing unique ways to take on enemies and traverse through the levels. This is a hardcore action platformer, and from the early moments, you’ll find out that this game will not take it easy on you. Instant death traps, numerous enemies types, and puzzle-esque dungeons stand in your way from finding Eve.
One of the more interesting aspects of Blaster Master Zero 3 is the dimension portals that you can enter. These appear all over the map and send you to an alternate reality that Jason can’t survive in for too long. If ever you think you’re stuck, you should probably jump into these portals to find your way through. Each time you enter, I felt like it was an episode of Kamen Rider as Jason transfers into a more powerful suit that can withstand this dimension. It ultimately gets the most out of each level as you can use this mode as another means of navigating dungeons.
Controlling G-Sophia isn’t always easy. The G-Sophia is not an Italian Plumber or a Blue Bomber; it’s a tank. It took me a while to adjust to these floaty controls, but then you unlock an upgrade where spider legs can be equipped, and things get more manageable. In fact, bosses in the game typically leave players with upgrades related to their attacks. There are needed to progress the adventure, but nothing is ever that easy.
Enemies in the game are constantly evolving to piss you off. They will do everything from taking your energy to swarming around you as a group. I don’t know who to be more annoyed it, the challenging bosses or the tons of enemies. Regardless, I was having a lot of fun figuring out the easiest way to take them down. Aside from the G-Sophia’s constant upgrades, Jason can equip various weapons in the field. Typically enemies are weakest to a few specific weapon types, so playing around with them is necessary.
The game allows you to hotkey two weapons to your shoulder buttons along with your equipped weapon for three weapons to use at a time. I appreciated this as I didn’t constantly switch my weapon type. However, the best move you’ll need to perfect is that Blast Counter, which is needed for dungeons and bosses alike. This appears as a target on an enemy, and with the press of a button, Jason will swing in and deal damage. This can also be chained together for multiple enemies.
Interestingly, other characters will join Jason’s cause, some of whom were enemies in the previous titles. They provide insight into the story to fill in the blanks and even lend some of the power. You’ll constantly be finding new ways to address combat, and that continues to the end. However, you’ll want to travel back and pick up any items that you might have left behind.
Blaster Master Zero 3 is a beautiful 2D action game. The level designs, explosions, and dialogue sections all retain that classic look, but it’s probably the best it has ever been. The music supplements this adventure during every moment as you fight your way through.
While the challenge is kept high for a reason, I believe the save system needs a lot of work. Players can interact with checkpoints throughout the game. However, the first interaction will save the state of your current game, and you can’t re-interact with that checkpoint. This is a pretty bad design since you can’t say, clear out a room of items before a difficult section, save it, and then take on the hard part. Instead, you’re stuck in a constant loop of collecting the items you didn’t get before you touched the checkpoint as you keep dying at the challenging section, which makes things repetitive. I hope they make it, so the checkpoint is triggered every time you interact with it.
Further, the direction can become confusing in various sections when it’s hard to distinguish if you are in the alternate dimensions or the real world, as some designs looking strikingly similar. However, the map menu is competent after you understand it and typically lays out where you need to go.
Blaster Master Zero 3 is the perfect way to cap off this series for long-time fans. It’s highly encouraged that you play the previous titles, given that the challenge here is significantly higher than the previous entries. This game will test your 2D action skills to the fullest with unique upgrades for both Jason and G-Sophia SV through difficult platforming sections, dungeons, and bosses. However, as a reward, you’re treated to an amazing finale of an over-the-top narrative about a man named Jason who followed a frog named Fred into a portal.
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