Blast Corps was released for the Nintendo 64 in 1997. It was one of Rare’s first games on the platform. The nineties was a golden age for the company; at the time, they were for games such as Killer Instinct, Battletoads, and the Donkey Kong Country series. Blast Corps was doomed to be overshadowed, having been released between Goldeneye, the game that revolutionized console first-person shooters and Donkey Kong Country 3, a swansong game for the Super Nintendo. It’s a bit of a shame because Blast Corps is one of the most unique games ever created.
Playing the Game
Blast Corps is quite a difficult game to pigeonhole into a single genre. I would describe it as an action driving puzzle game with no actual racing played from a top-down perspective if that makes any sense. The premise of Blast Corps is that a pair of defective nuclear missiles en route to a safe detonation site have begun to leak. The carrier transporting the missiles automatically locks onto the most direct course to ground zero. Unfortunately, the route happens to go through several communities. A single jolt will trigger an atomic explosion that will trigger a nuclear winter and kill everyone within the vicinity.
This is where you come in. You are a member of Blast Corps, a team of demolition experts originally part of the military until an accident left one of its members disabled. Because the hazardous material leaking from the missiles prevents anyone from getting near the carrier, the only way to ensure everyone’s safety is to destroy every building in its path and enlist the help of six scientists to control the explosion.
You’re given an impressive array of vehicles in order to accomplish this task, including a bulldozer, a motorcycle that shoots missiles, and even some giant mech suits. Completing a level will reward you with a gold medal. If you revisit the level, destroy all of the buildings, and find all of the RDUs (Radiation Disposal Units), you will be rewarded with a second gold medal. That feeling of getting to the buildings when the carrier is seconds away from colliding with them never gets old and is the primary reason this game is so good.
In the main levels, you can also happen upon communication points, which resemble satellite dishes. Touching these will open up secondary missions, all of which involve racing against the clock to accomplish a goal. Sometimes it’s a time trial while other times, it’s a test to see how fast you can destroy all of the buildings in the level. The medal you’re rewarded with is based on how fast you completed these levels. Collecting a gold medal in every level will unlock a time attack mode for the main levels wherein you destroy the buildings that block the carrier’s path as quickly as possible. Again, a faster time equals a better medal.
Even though there are a lot of things to like about the game, it’s far from perfect and has three main flaws that hold it back. Most of the vehicles are easy and intuitive to use with one exception: the dump truck. Anyone who has played this game knows what I’m talking about. How it works is that you’re supposed to serve into buildings using the armored backside of the vehicle. It’s even more cumbersome than it sounds and the worst part is that you’re forced to use it for several levels. Furthermore, I get the feeling that this was a game where the creators started off with a lot of energy, but ended up rushing when designing the later parts. The levels of Blast Corps are divided into three tiers of ascending difficulty. What makes the third tier of levels disappointing is that some of them are just reskinned versions of first-tier levels but forcing the use of different vehicles or simply increasing the number of buildings. The final issue I have with the game concerns the secondary missions. Specifically, they outnumber the main levels by a significant margin. This by itself is not a problem, but, with a few exceptions, the secondary missions aren’t as interesting as the main levels. Destroying objects in a certain amount of time doesn’t have the same appeal as clearing a path for the carrier. Also, because Blast Corps was not designed as a racing game, the controls don’t complement the time attack levels very well. It’s nice that the designers tried to introduce some variety in the game, but I don’t think it was implemented as well as it could have been.
Drawing a Conclusion
Despite the issues I have with the game, I still think Blast Corps is a lot of fun. Considering that it was released when 3D gaming was in its infancy, it’s amazingly innovative. Because the game provides such a unique experience, it’s still fun to go back and revisit it every now and again. If you have a Nintendo 64, seek this game out because it is worth playing at least once. There aren’t that many games where the heroes actually get rewarded for leveling entire cities. Just don’t try that in real life because, unlike in this game, you probably won’t get paid for doing so.
Final Score: 6/10