5 August 2007
As soon as you flick this game on, there's a catchy booming beat that gets you amped up, and a small fighter zooms across the screen, attacking a giant spaceship. That's right, you're that little ship, facing insurmountable odds, and it's going to take a whole lot of blasting to surive. That's the simple story behind the mayhem—more than you get from most of the shooters during this era.
Initially, you face that typical first wave of lame ships that don't fire back—suckers. Mowing down all of them is easy with the classic swinging back and forth motion, but the action rapidly intensifies, and you'll find yourself needing bigger weapons, like a giant lazer. Fortuntaely, power-ups appear with astounding frequency, and you're going to need them.
Just when you think you're getting the handle of blasting enemies out of the sky, your very surroundings turn into threats. Missile bays launch clouds of projectiles, and asteroids blunder into your path, concealing the enemy ships lurking behind them.
Each level features a sub-boss around the half-way point and a main boss at the end. You get to tangle with a gigantic triangular ship at the end of stage 1. His massive bulk and penchant for whipping back and forth across the screen are more threatening than those barrages of lazer fire. With the aid of "multi-bodies," those two little sidecar ships, and a few bomb blasts, it's easy to smoke this boss.
While Blazing Lazers is a typical shooter in many ways, it's power-up system is unusually complex and interesting. There are two classes of power-ups, one for your main weapon (appearing as roman numerals I, II, III, and IV) and supplements (appearing as F, H, M, and S). You can pair any of the former with the latter, but grabbing a new main weapon or supplement cancels out your current one.
Each weapon also has varying level so power. By grabbing purple orbs from enemies or additional powerups of weapons you already have all sorts of impressive destruction ensues, you will find your lazer curving back and forth around the screen or your ring blaster will swing in a larger and faster orbits.
From the rich blue of your crackling lazer to the flash of incoming missiles, the graphics are superb. It's no wonder that this game was featured in virtually all of the early commercials for the TurboGrafx-16. Indeed, it's surprising that a first generation game looks this good.
The soundtrack is very atmospheric with a spacey techo sort of feel, perfect for setting the mood. You won't find the music sticking in your head, but it fits well. From the poof of launched missiles to the buzzing of lazers, the sound effects are all well-executed. You even have voice samples for when you pick up the various power-ups, but—as with most TurboGrafx-16 games—the voice samples are pretty garbled.
The controls are tight and you're going to need every bit of precision you can muster to make it through this game. Thankfully, hitting the select button allows you to rotate through four different speeds for your ship—something that should be standard for all shooters.
This is a fantastic shooter, one of the games that makes the TurboGrafx-16 worth owning. The graphics, sound, and gameplay all reinforce each other, creating a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. This game is also quite challenging in terms of raw difficulty and because you need to master the complex power-up system.
Video Review by Chris Bucci