Blaster Master Zero (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 09.03.2017

Review for Blaster Master Zero on Nintendo Switch

Back in 1988, Sunsoft released Blaster Master on the NES and it became a cult hit. It was the story of Jason and his journey to a subterranean Metroidvania underground to find his pet frog Fred. This title was distinct because it featured various modes of gameplay that alternated between standard 2D platformer/run-and-gun and, in some sections, bird's eye overhead zones. Over the years, Sunsoft would go on to produce various sequels, successors, and re-imaginings across multiple platforms, such as Game Boy Color, PlayStation and WiiWare, and by different developers. Now, it is up to Inti Creates to attempt an entry, with Blaster Master Zero on the Nintendo Switch. Cubed3 finds out if it lives up to the 20 plus-year legacy.

Blaster Master Zero pays tribute to the original NES game. Although it has a "zero" in the title, it is not a prequel, but actually a science-fiction re-imagining. Jason is no longer a regular boy, and is now a super genius of some kind. Even Fred the frog is no longer just a regular pet frog, and has been super-charged into some kind of mysterious mutant amphibian. Aside from that, the plot is more or less the same, yet with extra scenes of text boxes with Jason commenting on how he just missed Fred as he tracks his location. There is also the added character, Eve, who sometimes doles out useless information and was added for some cuteness factor. Jason still chases Fred into a hole and ends up discovering the tank, SOPHIA III. Inti Creates has tried to inject some context into this re-telling but, ultimately, none of it really matters since this is just like a NES game.

Inti Creates is famous for its Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 titles on WiiWare because of how they were so faithful to the old NES classics. It is a development team that truly does have an understanding of the nuances of 8-bit action and pixel art, and with Blaster Master Zero it manages to bring the boys to the yard. Anyone who played the NES original will be pleased to know that the Nintendo Switch eShop release controls almost identically to its 8-bit counterpart. Small details, like the distinctive jumping physics of the SOPHIA III, have been faithfully recreated, and the team has even improved the controls in some ways, like adding the ability to perform run-and-gun, aiming diagonally, and giving Jason a crouch feature.

Screenshot for Blaster Master Zero on Nintendo Switch

In some respects, Inti Creates was actually too faithful to the NES iteration, and has retained some of its less fine elements, like the inferior Jason-only overhead sections in caves. These parts have all the same issues that old school titles had, and they are worse here in Blaster Master Zero since the game is very easy and, as it turns out, most of these caves lead to dead ends or are full of just health or ammo pick-ups, making for an even easier experience - unnecessarily so. It's rare, but some of these areas do have bosses in them, which is usually a gauntlet of regular enemies that rush Jason. It is such a waste as these could have been improved in many ways, like having them include some Zelda-like puzzles or make them more intense by having them play like a twin-stick shooter.

Between the SOPHIA III Metroidvania action and the overhead Jason sections, the former style plays so much better. It is a bit disappointing that, even in the tank sections, despite how anyone can make Jason get out of the SOPHIA III, Inti Creates has not taken advantage of creating light puzzle situations. It could have been interesting to have to get Jason out of the tank to do a little puzzle solving to open a path for his tank due to its awkward size, but the only reason he needs to exit SOPHIA III is to go into the tedious caves. The power-ups acquired are not as robust or interesting in Blaster Master Zero, outside of a few items, like the tank's hover boost to get to hard-to-reach places. Most of the time, the power-up is a brutal over-powered weapon that there are many of already, especially in Jason's overhead sections. Even between the two styles of play, the bosses that require the SOPHIA III are much more interesting and challenging and, sadly, the tank gets far fewer bosses than the on-foot Jason portions.

It would have been better if Inti Creates had taken the time to make the Jason sections rise above the stale and tired gameplay of the original Blaster Master. These were easily the weakest aspect of the classic and Blaster Master Zero was the opportunity to make them as good as the SOPHIA III elements. The caves that lead to a dead end could have either been nixed or become shortcuts, or just included some kind of power-up instead of nothing at all. As it stands, this is still one of the better games in the series, in spite of its flaws and that fact that it is too easy. It is a game that manages to capture the look, sound, and feel of the classic Blaster Master, and improves some aspects of the formula... even to a fault, at times.

Screenshot for Blaster Master Zero on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Blaster Master Zero is a brief and faithful successor to Blaster Master. This may not be as hard as the NES game due to it having modern conveniences, like checkpoints and save files, but it slavishly pays lip service to the classic. It does the original developer justice and perfectly captures that distinctive Sunsoft sound that it was known for in the NES generation. It is just too bad Inti Creates played it too safe and did not try to truly push Blaster Master Zero to the heights it could have reached. For £8.99 / $9.99, it is more than a decent throwback retro title.


Inti Creates


Inti Creates


2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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