"...And my duty is... to blast them." - Review By Mr. Domino
There was a time not long ago when gamers could only dream of playing arcade games at home, not that that was all they dreamed about, cause I know I'm not an established enough of a writer to start thinking for others yet. Nonetheless, every magazine worth its salt in paper would judge arcade to console ports by how well of a translation it was -- the fact that it was "just an arcade game" never mattered. It didn't matter that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a rather shallow arcade game and that you basically did the same three attacks against a bevy of palette swapped footsoldiers for about an hour or so. TMNT was buckets of fun, especially with four players, and when it finally came home everyone bought it (except those who didn't buy it). No unlockable stages. No hidden characters. No "big head" mode nor nude codez. On top of that, the 8-bit NES really could not do the arcade's graphics justice and had to remove the four-player cooperation aspect which was a large part of what made the arcade game so much fun. It didn't matter, because the game was still fun, and that's what mattered. Hey, you kids get off of my lawn!
Let's hope the citizens evacuated unlike the idiots in Angel Grove.
Nowadays (ie., the present day), we demand more than just arcade perfection. Arcade games are often considered too shallow by most modern gamers. Just look at most reviews of arcade beat-em ups, shooters, or whatnot and you'll find people complaining that the game is too short and needs some kind of extra(s) to help boost the longevity. The holy grail of being "arcade perfect" has be achieved and no longer matters. It would also appear that the simple joy of enjoying a game is worthless as well, since so many reviewers are quick to brand a straight arcade port as a rental. Apparently, fun leaves once a game has been "beatened," just like your wife.
Charge 'N Blast has "arcade" written all over it (figuratively, of course, or else this would be an Arcade Charge 'N Arcade Blast review). The game is as loud and short as any arcade game, and if that hasn't scared you away, chances are you'll appreciate the game. Yet, is this a purchase or rental? Let's read on and see. ... ... ... Okay, you read, I'll continue typing.
This game screams destruction! "Destruction!" Quiet, you! Really, that's the most immediately attractive quality of the game. Everything is susceptible to being blown to bits -- enemies and landscape alike. I actually didn't think much of the game on my first play since I chose Pamela Hewitt, who's trying to make a name for herself this tax season as the token female in Charge 'N Blast. Pamela is a good albeit somewhat weaker character, but her weapons lack the force of the other two male characters, whose weapons are more prone to blowing up the surrounding scenery. It's great! The first level takes place in a city, and you can actually level the entire city with your weapons. The resulting explosion graphics and sounds are terrific. The city stages are the best in this regard, since, although every level can be charged 'n blasted into bits, witnessing the destruction of a city is more satisfying than blowing up random rocks and mountainside.
Each boss has a shield generator on it which must be shot before it can be damaged.
You'd think such an ever changing environment would mean that the graphics would have to be comprised to fit all the destruction into the Dreamcast's RAM, but you'd think wrong. While the scenery won't exactly give, say, an unblowupable game such as Shenmue anything to worry about, the textures are very nice and structures are composed of enough polygons make things look good both before and after their destruction. The view distance is incredible as well with zero pop-up. Your shots can travel way into the background to hit something and blow it up. The enemies and bosses are varied enough to keep things fresh, although their designs are pretty generic -- insects, worms, Godzilla, fish, etc. While the playable characters have all the personality of plankton, their character designs are nice if themselves generic. The player models are really sharp, though, and their cyborg armor is rendered extremely well. The characters strip as they lose health just like Dynamite Cop. I guess the girls at Club 69 must be near death!
Each character has an assortment of three unique weapons -- two normal guns and a special cannon which takes a bit longer to charge but yields a better blast. If you want to just have fun blowing things up, choose Nicholas Woods; his grenade launcher actually engulfs most of the screen and obliterates anything within the explosion be it bug or building. Unfortunately, Nicholas' poor homing ability and short range make him a more difficult person to play through the game as the others. It's very important to be able to strike enemies as often and as quickly as possible, because the game is timed. Not destroying all enemies within the time limit more or less kills your character. No, it doesn't make sense, but neither did talking ninja turtles, so just accept it and move on.
Next: More Good, The Bad, and The Final Word