26 November 2009 ~ 0 Comments

Niche Game: Blast Corps

Niche games: Âwe’ve all played them. ÂThey’re the games that you remember for a long time because they’re so unique. ÂSometimes they’re the only ones ever made like them. ÂOther times they were trailblazers for their kind of gameplay. ÂBut what they have in common is the bravery to try something new, allowing them to rise above the imitators. ÂEven though there might be newer games with shinier graphics, these games are still worth playing because they’re something different, something special.

Blast Corps, released in 1997 for Nintendo 64, is based entirely around blowing stuff up. But it’s different from all those other blowing-stuff-up games, because you’re not destroying to kill, you’re destroying to save humanity. Two defective nuclear missiles are being transported cross country to a controlled demolition site. In transit, they start leaking, and the autopilot of the carrier kicks in, sending it on a direct path to the destination at a steady speed to the demolition site. A DIRECT path, completely disregarding any buildings or any other obstacles If it hits any bump, no matter how small, it will detonate. So the demolition squad called Blast Corps is hired to tear down everything in the carrier’s way.

Who designed this equipment? An autopilot system on a carrier hauling nuclear weapons? And nobody considered adding in the small detail in the autopilot of being able to steer around giant obstacles. Also, if nuclear weapons detonated from the smallest bump there’s no way they would ever have been deployed. And, hmmm, the guy who decided to cut corners on the budget by skipping the shock absorbers? That guy is SO going to get fired.

Yeah. The “plot” leaves something to be desired, but if you’re willing to set that aside, the game is original and fun. As the game progresses, you drive a bunch of different vehicles, each with their own demolition capabilities, and you have to clear the tiniest of obstacles out of the way.

The first vehicle you get is the bulldozer. It’s the easiest vehicle to use: all you have to do is drive it straight into obstacles. But it’s not very powerful, because it doesn’t have a lot of momentum behind it. It works pretty well for one-story buildings and small obstacles. When the bulldozer’s a bit out of its league it can push convenient crates of dynamite into buildings to pack extra punch. Who leaves crates of dynamite sitting around by civilian buildings? Why can’t more than one person be at a site demolishing? You’re asking questions again. Stop it!

My favorite vehicle is the Backlash, dump truck. It’s fairly slow, and can do a bit of damage by ramming head on, but it’s real power is the heavily-armored back end of the vehicle. By turning and jamming on the emergency break, or by hopping it over a bump, you can send the Backlash into a destructive controlled slide.

Some of the vehicles are just downright silly, though they’re still fun to use anyway. Such as the Sideswipe, whose destructive power uses its limited fuel to extending bashing panels out to either side. Its a terrible design for a demolition vehicle, but the fuel budgeting makes the gameplay interesting anyway. And the J-Bomb, which uses a jet pack to rise up in the air and then smashes down on buildings.

After you clear the path for the carrier in each level, you can come back for some playability appeal to knock down every remaining structure, activating beacons throughout the level, and rescuing survivors. Besides the main carrier levels, there are also bonus levels which don’t involve the carrier, but still involve blowing stuff up.

And, that’s about all there is to say about the game. If you think mass demolition with strict time limits sounds like fun, try this game out. If you don’t, then you should skip it. It’s as simple as that. Finding a copy of Blast Corps shouldn’t be a problem. I found multiple copies on eBay for less than 5 bucks a piece. Otherwise, you can probably find a ROM for it to play on your computer, though I haven’t dabbled in N64 ROMs. It’s worth a play through, especially if it only costs you a few bucks. Enjoy!

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