This is an ongoing series, where I, a nobody, attempt to play and rank every video game ever. This is my quest to find the greatest game of all time. This is of course a joke and of course an opinion on games. If you are interested in the rules see previous Blog entry Here
Before I started playing through games all over again, if someone were to ask me about Blast Corps, I would probably say it was on my list of top 10 N64 games. That is not necessarily a wrong opinion (the N64 library isn't top notch), but one based on a nostalgia that I was on board for. To take it a step farther, when I started collecting old games again, Blast Corps was one of the first 3 games I purchased to go with my newly purchased "old" N64. I had a short list and while finding old games in decent and cheap condition can be its own journey, I remember my belief that I needed Mario 64, Ocarina of time, and BLAST CORPS. I am pretty sure it was in that order!
When i ruminate on this game, I think it exists in two places. I think if you played this game in the past, and dip your toes back in on occasion (first few levels), then you probably have a favorable view on this game. It is a game about destroying buildings with fun toys. It has Mechs, both flying and cartwheeling. It has a motorcycle (maybe a tri-cycle) that fires rockets. It also has a bulldozer, that is honestly the ideal way to tackle any level, but is in far too few. Even talking about it now, there is some excitement in my voice when I think about the concept of the game and controlling the different vehicles. However, if you step out of that nostalgia smog over your head, and want to play this game from start to finish again you are going to have a bad time.
Perhaps I should take a step back and explain how this game works. A nuke is on a runaway truck, and you are in charge of clearing all of the obstacles in its way so that it doesn't blow up. The "Main" missions have you using different vehicles to accomplish your task. Have a skyscraper in the way? Hop in a flying mech, get to the top, and stomp your way through. Need to clear a silo? uhhh.. use a buggy, with nitro, while going down a hill.. I guess. There are a bunch of other side items to "collect" during these missions. You can light up some nodes, destroy all the buildings (even ones not in the path), and "rescue" survivors. At the end of every mission you get ranked from no medal, to gold medal and can earn a platinum if you also do it under a certain time limit. One of the big benefits that you can take advantage of is go back into a main mission, without the threat of the truck to do some mop up work with no time-limit. Side missions are usually either races, or timed destruction levels to vary up the fun. In order to 100% most of these levels, you need to find secrets throughout the level, and that is where this game breaks down.
I understand that I have a compulsion when playing video games. It physically pains me to not try and 100% games. I want to see everything that a game has to offer, I do all the side quests in RPGs, I collect all the thermoses, I want to get all golds. I have scaled back a little since my days of achievement hunting, but I remember playing Blast Corp as a teenager and not moving on until I got a Gold on a level, (i never platinum-ed every level). However, upon playing this game over, I ended up skipping many of the side missions, moving on even with a bronze or silver, and just not enjoying the game I feel like I once loved. There are only so many times I can race around a track in a cruiser to try and shave 2 seconds off my time for a gold.
Lets face facts here, the controls in this game are awful, and some of the vehicles drive like trash. The dump truck in particular, never seems to behave the same way twice and its clear that the developers knew this truck sucked, because it is used in the most main missions. I am sure there are people who are experts at the truck, and would tell me to "git gud," but apparently it is just not in my skill range. There are of course cheats on how to destroy buildings, that can make the difficulty of the main missions pointless, but trying to do this game legit is incredibly frustrating.
Did I mention that to actually beat this game, you need to find scientists hidden in a handful of levels, that are some of the most obscure hidden secrets I can think of in video games. Rare is no stranger to collectibles or secrets in their games, some people even love them for it. In some instances you may even find a section of nodes or a hidden unlock-able car, that you can now take into races, and you feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. That will change when you are spending time combing through a level over and over again, to see where one item might be hiding, or what is being counted as a building that you haven't destroyed (hello small staircase). Those items you can skip over and just accept that you won't 100% that level, it wont have any bearing on the plot. But a scientist, those are needed to complete the game. Each scientist you find, will tell you the level of one where another is waiting, so you aren't going into every level blind, but it doesn't actually help you locate them. Let me paint you a picture of one and I wish I could just copy and paste a faq, but my word count is already too high. After destroying all buildings and switch cars like 3 times, you have to get in an underground train (that you can't see, since the camera stays above ground). Drive it about halfway to its actual destination, stop the train and attempt to get out at a different underground tunnel (that you still can't see since its underground), run on foot through that tunnel, hop in a police car and go through a maze, to get to the scientist. The first time through, you either need to find this by literally attempting to exit the train every couple inches, or you would have to look it up online.
Luckily for people now, we have the internet, and we have videos and clips of people finding all the secrets that Rare expected you to find. When I played through, I tried to not look anything up, and play this game as if I was a kid again, hammering his way through. I benefited from some memories coming back to me, like flying above the map, through a copy and paste texture for what seems like miles, to find a breakaway floor and a hidden area. Or knowing that one race has a wall that you can drive through instead of going around. But these were few and far between, and even knowing the secret I was upset that it really existed. Some of the races actually required you to know and use the secrets to even qualify for a medal! That isn't how that should work! I should be able to medal without bumping into every wall to see if I can use it as a shortcut ala Castle Wolfenstein.
I feel like I could go on (did you know there were levels hidden behind getting all golds or all platinum medals), but I will drop it. Blast Corps is a great nostalgia game, but not one you want to play again or for the first time now. It exists in my memories as a game that I felt was a hidden gem when I was a teenager. It doesn't hold up now, and it honestly probably didn't hold up then.
Did all that complaining make you want to watch some videos on it? Well it took me 3 videos to complete the game, they are Here
Is this the greatest game of all time: No
Where does it rank:
1) Super Mario Bros
2) That's You!
4) Simpsons Road Rage
5) Knowledge is Power
Next game up: Super Dodgeball for the NES