Reviews | Written by Chris Jackson 29/07/2021

BLASTER MASTER ZERO 3

PLATFORM: PC, PS4, SWITCH (REVIEWED), XBOX ONE | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

Kicking off with a quick recap of the events of Blaster Master Zero 1 and 2, which culminates with hero Jason and his pals Eve and Fred captured and separated from each other on the planet Sophia, the base where Jason is being held is attacked, allowing him to escape and recover his interplanetary all-terrain tank, G-SOPHIA SV. Within seconds, he's back in the driving seat and off to find his pals once again! But an invading army of mutants and the mysterious appearance of a bunch of dimensional ruptures stand in Jason's way...

Like previous games, BMZ3 is a mixture of side-scrolling vehicle-based platforming, where the tank's speed, powerful weapons and nifty abilities come into play, and top-down action sections where Jason, now on foot, is able to make full use of his blaster, an upgradeable weapon with five different (and very distinct) fire types. The sprawling environments contain masses of secrets, dungeons and useful items, many of which are inaccessible until Jason has found specific upgrades, lending a Metroidvania element to the game.

Traversing the planet requires a lot more brainpower than you might expect - figuring out how to best use your weapons and abilities to take down tricky enemies and manipulate the environment to progress through each area is often much easier said than done. On top of this, the constant dimension-hopping means that your bearings often go completely out of whack and the map screen isn't always entirely useful, which can lead to a fair bit of head-scratching moments when trying to figure out where to go next.

There's a heavy retro feel to BMZ3, from the bright and bold pixel art style and chiptune soundtrack to the occasionally confusing level design and slightly weirdly-worded (and, sometimes, seemingly neverending) dialogue. Coming from a development team that was formed by ex-Capcom employees who have worked on the Mega Man Zero / ZX series and the well-received 8-bit Bloodstained spinoff titles, you can also expect plenty of enemies that behave in some very erratic (some might say infuriating) ways and tense boss fights that are rarely as straightforward as they first appear. Bundle those in with plenty of challenging puzzles and an old-school lack of handholding, and you end up with a fittingly retro-styled finale to what has been a tremendous reboot trilogy. Fans of Sunsoft's retro classics like Batman and Gremlins 2 will especially feel very much at home!