Blaster Master

Review Date: April 3, 2021 (It’s 4-3-2-1, blast off!!)

Release Date: November 1, 1988

Platform: NES

Publisher: Sunsoft

Genre: Linear Platformer

Anecdotes: I had already mentioned this game in previous reviews of Sunsoft games because it was evident to me that Sunsoft learned from their earlier games what worked and what didn’t. The catacombs of Area 4 look similar to Wing of Madoola‘s towers. The boss music was taken from the word puzzle parts of Freedom Force. They took those and mixed in a bunch of new elements. The result was this enjoyable title Blaster Master.

Description: Jason was sitting at home one day and playing with his pet frog. Unfortunately, the frog escaped and hopped outside. The frog then made contact with a radioactive substance that happened to be in the back yard. The frog then went down a hole in the ground. Jason decided to dive in after the frog, but couldn’t find him. Instead, he found a vehicle called SOPHIA, and the adventure begins. Great job, Sunsoft. I already feel bad for Jason before starting the game.

Why is there a radioactive box there? Anyway, this was perfect for getting people to like Jason. He really cares about his pet frog.

Jason will then ride Sophia around looking for doors. He will have to get out of the vehicle at times to find the bosses. The game is linear in that the levels and bosses must be defeated in order, but finding the entrance to new levels may involve going back into older ones.


-Normally, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the story, but this is an exception. If players wait out the title screen, the game does an excellent job of telling to story in stills. While it’s a story that has a few unrealistic elements, it’s very simple and easy for any pet owner to identify with. It’s those unrealistic elements that turn the game into the fun adventure that it is.

-Area 4 is awesome. The music is a personal favorite. The music even hints at the boss coming up by throwing a frog noise in there. The map doesn’t have any odd wraparounds. The colors chosen work well, considering the area is wet and full of pipes. To top it all off, the emotion of Jason having to fight HIS OWN PET FROG at the end really puts the story in perspective.

Does Jason really have to fight his own pet frog?

-Area 5 is where the difficulty really picks up. Up until that point, the game has kept the Sophia and Jason sections separate. Sophia had the side view areas, while Jason had the top down areas. Area 5 finally bridges the gap, forcing Jason to swim around looking for the boss area. It’s a nice change of pace, even though it’s quite difficult to keep Jason alive there.

-I’d be sad if I forgot to mention the music. Area 4 is one of my favorite tunes in gaming. Area 6 is a very close second. Areas 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 all have decent songs. Area 8 is the typical creepy end game theme. The boss music was taken from the puzzle segments of Freedom Force.

-I have seen criticism that Sophia’s gun can hit enemies on the ground. That’s true, but that why the game gives players alternate weapons to use. My personal favorite are the homing missiles, which do a great job of taking out Mines and Worms. Like Metroid, there are ways of hitting low enemies; players just have to figure out the right weapon.


-After obtaining Wall 1 and 2, the control scheme just gets completely messed up. Before this point, I could hold right down and if I reached the end of a platform, Sophia would either stop at the wall or roll off the cliff. After getting Wall 1, it started riding up walls. After Wall 2, it started rotating around the platform, so dropping down to a lower platform required a jump. This got to be a huge pain backtracking to Area 3 to reach Area 8. On top of that, the left and right buttons move Sophia as if it is on the ground. In other words, it is backwards when riding the ceilings. There should have been some way to latch on, similar to Metroid II’s Spider Ball.

Oh, what a feeling, when we’re dancing on the ceiling…

As much as I really enjoy Area 4, an inconsistency showed up there. In Areas 1 and 5, not only can Jason swim, but it’s required of him to do so. In Area 4, some of the top down areas have waterways in them. If Jason falls into the water, he dies. Jason suddenly has no ability to swim. I really don’t care if Jason can swim or not; just be consistent about it. At least Area 7 changed it to lava.

This is what I mean. Jason loses a life if he falls in.

More Screenshots:

Jason swims around while having to fight off Metroids Jellies.
I like how the screen blacks out for boss fights. In Area 1, it’s just Jason vs. a Brain.
Here’s a sample screen from Area 2.
Area 3 has Runners, which are really annoying. I just try to avoid them.
Photophage guards the Hover ability in a fast, but predictable boss fight.
After defeating Photophage, Jason needs to go back to the start of the game and hover up to the room with the Area 4 door.
I wish I could drive through a sewer…
Area 4 really wants Sophia to hover. Then the ability is nearly useless in areas 5 and 6 and made obsolete by Wall 1 in areas 7 and 8.
OK, this crab in Area 5 is cool. And it’s a tough boss, too.
My, this game looks good! This is after Sophia, the car, got the ability to swim.
In 1988, it seems like EVERY platformer or RPG had to have an ice area, complete with ice physics. This makes Area 6 tougher, but far from impossible.
How did I get 85 homing missiles?
I’m done playing around. Where is my frog?
There he is! I should mention that Blaster Master has a “cheap” way to defeat certain bosses. Fire a grenade and pause the second the boss flashes. If done right, the game will keep counting hits during the pause. When the player unpauses the game, the boss will be dead. Be careful, though, because it also works on Jason. The trick only works on the crabs of Areas 2 and 6 and the frogs of Areas 4 and 7.
This is Area 8, where I naturally wallwonked right into the spikes.

Final Opinion: Sunsoft put together a masterpiece here. The control issue in the late stages and the water inconsistency are not enough to lower the grade.

Grade: A

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