Blazing Lazers


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9

Sound: 8.5

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9

The plethora of shooters in the 16-bit era made even the most hardcore shooter fan cringe. Almost every game was a blatant copy of the last, flooding the market with numerous sub-par game looking to quickly cash in on the fading fad. Thankfully, what we have here is the pinnacle of the genre in it's heyday. Combining all the elements of the greatest shooters of it's day and adding in it's own unique mix of enemies, power-ups, and stunning graphics, Blazing Lazers gains the distinction of being one of the most extraordinary shooters of all time.   

Dangerously close to the Earth, the Dark Squadron is on it's way to destroy the 8 super weapons, the only defense our planet has. Thankfully, your piloting 80 tons of star fighter, the Gunhed, directly into the heart of the enemy. Once again, your the only hope our blue planet has at defending itself from certain doom at the hand of an alien race.

Ok, so the story isn't exactly new or all that spine-tingling, but the gameplay is the meat of the game and really all that matters. The overhead view provides and excellent look at all of the on-screen action which never slows down, even under the heaviest of fire, a testament to the great programming inside this HUcard.

Power-ups are plentiful and come in numerous forms. Selecting which ones to grab is a major part of the game and adds a layer of strategy not found in other shooters in the same period. Only certain power-ups, which include shields, multi-bodies, and homing missiles, can be used at the same time together. Figuring out which of these combinations is right for the situation is one of the more innovative parts of the game. Your main weapon also has 4 distinct weapons available to it and each player will find one to call his/her own.

The sheer number of power-ups on the screen at one time does cause a few problems. The generosity of the programmers is appreciated, but amidst all blinking blue and red bullets, grabbing one of these "gifts" accidentally is bound to happen. In the heat of a battle, the player simply can't afford to lose their shields to homing missiles or change their main source of firepower. Dodging all the firepower from enemy ships is hard enough, but avoiding power-ups is an entirely different problem, particularly in later stages.

Anyone who owns a Turbo knows that when a developer took it's time to program a game properly, the graphics can easily surpass anything a "real" 16-bit console (such as the Genesis) could put out. Blazing Lazers is one of those games. The bosses are absolute goliaths, filling the screen with their metallic monstrosities and raining down bullets like few shooters can. The backgrounds are a mixture of basic black space and hulking spaceships. Each of the weapons given to the player look outstanding and it's simply amazing that there is never any slowdown with flicker kept to a bare minimum.

Until players get deeper into the game, the music doesn't really stand out, but after about stage 5, it kicks in and doesn't let go. The exquisite sounding tracks of these stages are impeccable and easily amongst the top of the class as far as shooters go. There is no annoying sound for the main weapon, explosions are earsplitting, and the voices that sound out which power-up you've collected are crystal clear. Very few games on the Turbo have such a flawless mix of outstanding sounds and music.

A few other issues do exist with the game. The difficulty is a bit on the easy side, especially when your fully powered up. Enemies hardly have time to even appear on the screen before their blasted out of the sky. However, if your hit and die a horrible, fiery death, you'll start close to the spot where your were hit, but without any power-ups at all, regardless of how powered up you were. In later stages, you'll be put into the middle of a war zone with nothing but you basic laser, hardly enough to get past the barrage of weaponry being tossed at the player.

There are only a few other shooters on the Turbo worth playing, but none even come close to the sheer brilliance of Blazing Lazers. Gamers will be in awe of the mesmerizing soundtrack, the flawless mix of color, pin-point control, and innovative power-up system. You really can't ask more from a game, shooter or otherwise. Very few shooters come to mind when trying to think of a game close to the quality of Blazing Lazers. This is a must own game for anyone with Turbo Grafx-16.

Side Note: This is one of the few shooters that is highly playable on the Turbo Express making it one of the greatest portable shooters of all time too. The high resolution screen makes everything, including enemy bullets, easy to see.


Go to Digital Press HQ
Return to Digital Press Home

Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:16 PM