Follow-up: Blaster Master Zero

I wrote many, many nice words about Blaster Master Zero a few months ago. Between then and now, Inti Creates has released a Hard Mode update and three DLC characters, with at least one more on the way. I think you can see where this is going; I’ve been playing Blaster Master Zero again.

The nicest thing about the DLC characters is that while they are paid content ($2 a pop), they were all free for the first two weeks that they were available. Nice! The three currently available characters are Gunvolt (from Azure Striker Gunvolt), Eiko (from Gal*Gun) and Shantae (from Shantae), and coming next month is… Shovel Knight! (From Shovel Knight.) That’s a pretty outstanding lineup of crossover characters!

I’m not going to lie, what I hope most is that this means that Shantae and Shovel Knight will also be DLC characters for Mighty Gunvolt Burst. But that’s besides the point.

I am still a little bit afraid of Hard Mode, but I recently took up the challenge of playing through BMZ as Gunvolt. I didn’t quite get how he was supposed to play at first, and was getting awfully fed up that his dart gun took twenty shots or so to take down monsters. And then by chance I realized that the dart gun is for tagging enemies, not causing damage. Once you’ve tagged a foe, you can use your Flashfield ability to blast them with lightning. And if you’ve got the energy, Gunvolt’s prevasion skill will have him automatically avoid taking hits. Of course, I would have known all this already if I’d bothered to play either of the Azure Striker Gunvolt games.

And that’s just in the top-down sections. Where Gunvolt really amazes is in the side-scrolling areas. For one, he doesn’t take fall damage. That’s already reason enough to never play as Jason again. Gunvolt also has a better jump in general, and can wall-jump infinitely, which can be a major sequence breaker on its own. Lastly, you can trigger the Flashfield mid-air to have Gunvolt drift more slowly to the ground, making tricky landings much easier to pull off. Of course, the dart/Flashfield combo is also your offensive bread-and-butter here, but I don’t think prevasion works on the overworld. Needless to say, Gunvolt’s amazing extra mobility makes him an absolute blast to play as, and the dart/Flashfield combat style is very cool and makes you feel like a real badass. The only drawback, really, is that the darts don’t piece through walls. Boo.

In the final areas, Gunvolt begins to feel a little bit out of his league, but it was a nice challenge bump, as his unique abilities completely broke the bulk of the game. In the end, I think that playing as Gunvolt actually made the game more fun than playing as Jason, and I’d consider that the mark of some really great DLC!

I haven’t bothered to try our Ekoro yet, but I was chomping at the bit to try out Shantae, so I started a new run with her next. My impressions so far (I’ve only played through the first area) are that Shantae is going to require a lot more finesse than either Jason or Gunvolt. For one, her main attack is still the hair whip, and you can imagine that a short-range melee attack isn’t especially great in a game designed for a character with a gun. Shantae has a slew of magic attacks and transformations to round out her arsenal, though, and so far the Elephant transformation has been my go-to when I need to muscle my way through a stage. I’ll likely have a more detailed write-up when I’ve finished the game again, and when I finally bother to give Ekoro a chance.

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