From the guys of Plantera, Ratalaika Games, comes another game I was sent so I could review. No money transferred, just spreading the word and giving my point of view on a game to see if it can be recommended to the everyman…but will this be a hard sell?
Blasting Agent: Ultimate Edition, developed by Axol Studio, LLC and published by Ratalaika Games, it was released in 2016 on Steam, Wii U and 3DS. It was eventually released much later in 2017 for PlayStation 4 and PSVita.
The game was created by Tim I Hely and was originally released in 2009 as a flash game on Newgrounds. It was praised by fans and won an award, and I guess it was good enough to be redone and improved for Steam and other consoles, hence the name, Ultimate Edition.
The game is set in Antarctica, where The Black Hand of Fate, an international terrorist group, have a hidden base inside their volcano. They’re building soldiers and all sorts of monsters in a bid to take over the world. However, there is only one man for the job, and his name is: The Blasting Agent…it’s a video game, go with it.
So Blasting Agent is a run & gun action-platformer and of course, the game is made to be something found on 8-bit games and it looks to be…ugly, I mean, just because you’re inspired by retro gaming, doesn’t mean it should look like one…in fact, it looks even worse than games released on consoles the website described: the NES, Master System and Commodore 64…well maybe the C64 but NES and Master System games look better than this game.
So yeah, the game is not the best-looking…or maybe this really is the better version since I did go back and play a bit of the original version, and it looks the same. I know this was made by one guy but one guy also made Cave Story. OK, that doesn’t seem fait, but that’s just me, I may not like the graphics, but how will the gameplay fare?
When you start the game, you’re told to jump and shoot and off you go. The game also takes some inspiration from Contra where you can pick up a selection of power-ups, and one of them of course, is the spreader. But unlike Contra, you collect more power-ups to make your weapon more powerful…shame finding said more power-ups are rarer than Mega Man X3.
There are six levels…and only six levels (good thing it’s only about a couple of quid). The objective of the game is to run around collecting gold and kill all the enemies. Remember when I said that the power-ups were hard to find? That’s because in order to get more, you must 90% both enemies killed and gold collected. So it’s made to reward the best players who go all the way.
But because the game wants to be a retro experience, the game is difficult, but how difficult? How about enemies upon seeing you or being on the same ground as they are will run to you to shoot you and the AI for the enemies are the same for every level and I feel that it works against you. At least there are checkpoints and the rooms you enter are small enough that when you die, you can just go back to doing what you’re doing, but making sure that you don’t screw up again.
Does the checkpoints justify it’s difficulty though? Nope, even though the game is simple and tries to emulate the NES hard style of games, even NES hard games had some pattern to get through, the game’s level design at times doesn’t give you a chance to properly dodge enemy fire.
The difficulty is overall annoying and the fact that every time you lose makes you start from the checkpoint over and over again can be tiresome and repetitive, but it’s not too much of an issue, there’s at least an incentive to try again and again thanks to said checkpoints.
And then there’s the bosses. Whilst the first boss isn’t too hard and actually has a pattern, the second boss…DOES NOT! There is no way to dodge a certain attack, you have no invincibility pauses and no way to avoid this giant boss, I couldn’t beat it, I tried over and over again and it’s pretty much impossible.
Oh, but it gets even more stupid, as you can jump on enemies, which should be helpful if it wasn’t for the fact that jumping on an enemy will damage you, THAT’S FAIR!!!
Blasting Agent is pretty much that game that wants to be that NES hard game, and whilst it’s a noble affair, it goes way too far in it’s cause despite its checkpoints. And the fact that there is a Hard mode kind of scratches my head.
I mean, this started life as a flash game and that’s fine, but…could you have added a difficulty setting to make it accessible for everyone. I don’t think I can recommend it for most people, but I realised that this isn’t for everyone, it’s for those who want a challenge. But at the very least, it’s short and the price is good enough for what the game has to offer.
Overall, Blasting Agent: Ultimate Edition is a simple retro-style game whose challenge may be considered questionable to some, including me. Its difficulty will annoy some, and I recommend playing the original version on Newgrounds to see if it’s worth your purchase. And if you happen to be satisfied, I also recommend playing it on a handheld like the 3DS or the Vita, the console I played the game on and it fits on those systems very well.
You can get it on Steam, Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 4 and PSVita.