Default Game of the Year: Blaster Master Zero II

It’s tradition to spend December summing up your favorite releases of the year, and that leaves me in a bind. This was a very busy year for me, and I finished only one video game that actually came out in 2019.

However, that means something in itself. The fact that I found time to play through a game in an otherwise hectic twelve months is a high compliment, and Blaster Master Zero II deserves it.

Inti Creates’ Blaster Master Zero lovingly remade the original Blaster Master, an NES almost-classic in which players control a human hero named Jason both on foot and within his wheeled tank of a vehicle, Sophia. Zero took the best ideas of from its originator and reworked them with excellent level design, substantially better controls, and a refreshingly lack of enemies the Sophia couldn’t hit. It made the most of Blaster Master’s odd premise, sending Jason to rescue his pet frog Fred and meet up with Eve, an apparently biological android woman who originated in the Worlds of Power novel for Blaster Master (no kidding). Together they defeated a mutant-alien warlord and, provided you unlocked the real endgame, everything turned out fine.

The introduction of Blaster Master Zero II tells us otherwise. Eve was infected by a mutant strain during the final battle of the first game, and now she, Jason, and, of course, Fred are off on an interplanetary quest to find a cure. Now modified for space travel, their Sophia tank carries them between worlds, with Eve steadily weakened by the alien virus. It’s already overhauled her design from the original game, making her more gruesome in her appearance and more pandering in her figure. We’ll return to this point.