How old was Jason supposed to be for the events of the first game?
...she totally looks like Jason and Eve.
Another reason I don't take Elfie's "since I was taken in" line to mean anything is that the dialogue in this game makes no fucking sense. I understand the other games' plots weren't exactly the work of Tolstoy, but there's a big different between "silly" and "retarded". Blasting Again is not only utterly incoherent, it tries to be darker and more serious than its predecessors what with the dead parents subplot and all, and that it expects you to take its horrendous writing and dodgy voice acting seriously just makes it into a far bigger joke than the runaway frog.
But after you beat the first boss, Roddy can't figure out what it is, and both he and Elfie are shocked that ZOMG! it was a lightning being! Even though the rest of the cave was full of them!
This game makes me feel like a Breath of Fire 2 Cat. SOPHIA turns people evil? Roddy's alien half makes him more susceptible to evil intentions? What? Where's this shit coming from?
Things about this cinema that bug me, besides the obvious "Roddy and Elfie are horrifying rubber puppets" and "since I was taken in" which I already talked about:
... my, wasn't that a speedy recovery.
I've mentioned before my mixed feelings on Jason's role in Blasting Again; part of me found it massively frustrating that he didn't appear ending alongside Eve when she was saying her farewells to Roddy and Elfie. Another other part of me is glad he was spared the embarassment of this game's voice acting and dialogue and creepy PSX-era model rendering. Yet another part of me... well, I'll get to that in a bit. But I still think he could have had a better visual role. A wave, or a thumb's up, or some other gesture in said cutscene would have been fine. Or if showing up as an apparition would have been too corny (although I kind of think we crossed that line around the time Eve's ghost showed up) or as a horrifying rubber marionette would have been a fate worse than death, how appealingly fucked up would it have been if you could have actually found where Jason died, and his skeleton still in the suit or something, and fought that worm-thing from the intro that killed him?
Y'know, if I found out I was half the same species as a 30-story pulsating monstrosity that looked like the bastard offspring of a Final Fantasy: Spirits Within phantom and mutant-blob Tetsuo, I'd be pretty damn creeped out, but I guess having a human father was enough for him to not be bothered by it. Though I don't know, Signar-Elians are still pretty much humans, and given the other abominations running around all the games, we can assume that when the Kaiser stole the Boss' powers and gained control of the lightning beings he was also probably horribly (horribly) mutated by them and the same would have happened if the Kaiser were a human. But we're not given any sign this stuff crossed Roddy's mind. It seemed like they were going for a twist in which Roddy fears he's one of the monsters his father spent and eventually lost his life fighting, but finds relief as he learns more about his family history, what having the same blood as the Kaiser really means, and that there's no way his father couldn't have known what he was, but just as they were about to hit it somebody on the writing staff remembered they were writing the plot for a freaking Blaster Master game, wherein a kid jumps down a hole after his pet frog and finds a tank instead of breaking his spine, and pulled back. I understand that the writing could be on the level of Vagrant Story and it would still be struggling to overcome that stigma, but that doesn't mean you can't try. Hell, the novel right-out included Fred and spun some interesting threads with him. Blasting Again had the ingredients but lost the recipe card, and we're left with clunky, half-baked exposition that leaves the player thinking "where's this going and why should I care?"
Jason knew how to shut up, dude. Seriously, not counting printed material, he said one damn thing all four of his games.
Oh, I don't have anything against you personally, Roddy. I can't stand your sister, your prerendered cinematics model scares the bejeezus out of me, and I find the attention given to your bum rather distracting on the loading screen, but you're clearly a sweet, well-meaning kid who just got stuck with a crappy script and an irritating sibling.
But having grown up with Blaster Master, Jason is one of my video game heroes, up there with Ladd Spencer, Luigi, Leon Kennedy, and that first lemming to fall out of the trap door in "Just Dig!" and my, that's a lot of L's. Seriously, I hold him in higher regard than freaking Mario, but he's dead and that makes me sad, which might sound strange considering how much I enjoy his death animation in Blaster Master 2, but shut up. It's bloody weird to go through the previous Blaster Masters knowing that. And then they didn't even bother to do what they could have with Roddy, which leaves me wondering what Jason had to die for, other than to create cheesy melodrama and have somebody else to humiliate with bad voice acting and horrifying rubber-puppet rendering (well, yeah, he shows up very briefly as one in the opening cinema, but you can barely tell what the fuck is going on other than that somebody at Sunsoft clearly has a giant hand fetish). So maybe I should feel sorry for Roddy, who as well as taking that bullet for his father, ends up getting the brunt of my comtempt for his fate.
I said in my Overdrive review that, while I remembered Blasting Again's plot reasonably well, I couldn't remember a whole lot of the actual game. Yeah, I remembered bits and pieces, and constant prodding did awaken more moments, but they were all vague. For example, I remembered there was a rail shooter boss, but I couldn't remember a ding-blasted about the actual fight, like its attacks or anything. Hell, I couldn't even remember what the boss looked like, and kept picturing the attack carrier from Star Fox. Other moments I only remembered because something significant was tied to them, like this one random staircase in the ice area I was hopping up when I realized what the J7 in "SOPHIA J7" meant. At first I thought this was because when I first played it back in late 2001/early 2002, I didn't have a Playstation of my own had to use the PS2 my brother got for Christmas, and he only let me use the thing for three hours a week. Blasting Again isn't a particularly long game, only eight to ten hours depending on how much searching you feel like doing for weapon stock upgrades, but that was still frustrating.
That might have been part of it, but the game itself is just not that remarkable. In trying to be darker, Blasting Again just ends up being mundane and boring. The plant-overgrown cave-technology mishmashes are actually quite nice, but the rest of the environments are a cave-technology mishmash, another cave-technology mishmash, a flooded cave-technology mishmash, and a lava cave-technology mishmash. And aside from some color changes to the rocks, the cave and technology parts are all identical in all areas. The birds and lizards you occasionally stir up start out a nice touch, but by the end I wasn't even noticing them. The Roddy dungeons are even more repetetive. Seriously, each one uses the same textures, hazards, enemies, and even rooms. Some have lava, some have acid, one freezes over when you activate a generator, and another has a timed escape, but by and far they all look and play the same and I swear you could make a drinking game out of visits to the room with that console you blow up to disable electric barriers. Say what you want about the risks and eventual result of Jason's lifestyle, at least he got some wonderful sightseeing out of it, what with the medieval castles and Atlantean ruins and alien innards and whatnot. Even Blaster Master 2 had giant bee hives, marlin statue filled crypts, and that creepy-ass swamp level along with caves and ruins, and even those had more personality than anything in Blasting Again. The best I can say of Blasting Again's environments is that they're still more varied and inspired than Overdrive's "What's your favorite level? The gray cave, the bluish-gray cave, or the brown cave?"
Don't get me wrong, the game itself isn't bad, it's just not likely to be blowing any minds and the repetetive environments don't help. Playing as SOPHIA is also rather annoying. The camera is always too high when you're trying to see into the distance and too low when you're trying to jump down to a lower platform and cannot be adjusted, and she controls like a busted shopping cart. Even at the end of the game I was still fumbling around with the controls and driving against walls. Bosses range from insipid (the ricocheting orb turtle) to incoherent (chicken-legs) to WOULD YOU DIE ALREADY! (the bat), and most of them don't even look like anything. Also, many bosses have multiple life meters for different parts of the boss you can destroy, but there's no indication of what the meters go to, and bosses often die when a random one in the middle is emptied, leading to some major "Wait, wut?" moments. I also distinctly remember the Kaiser kicking my ass six ways from Saturday back in 2002 on Easy, but this time I went through on Normal, only remembering two of his attacks (when he lobs a generic fireball at you, and he forms the crystals around you to block your attacks), and beat him on my second try, which left me thinking "Wow, that was it?" You'd also think the fight with the Kaiser would be a change of scenery, with how grotesque the movies involving him are.
No, you fight him on a nondescript cave floor with a spacey background like the first and fifth bosses had. Sheesh, lame as Overdrive's final boss was, at least it got a unique room for the fight.
Remember when this was one of the fastest, most hectic Blaster Master bosses? I sure do.
I understand that around this time Sunsoft was having some problems and there was talk about this game never getting a release outside Japan, but nothing says "We're out of ideas" more effectively than a boss rehash. Blasting Again is the first and currently only Blaster Master to have one. Other Blaster Masters have reused bosses, usually beefing them up, but this is a full-fledged "make you fight all the previous bosses, exactly as they were, for no damn reason". This particular boss rehash is even worse than usual because it also leaves the player wondering what the point of the rest of the game was. As you defeat the bosses again, the crystals guarding the Kaiser shatter, but shouldn't those have been shattering while you were beating the bosses the first time around? What are you doing for the first eight hours of the game, exactly? You're not getting SOPHIA's powerups from the bosses like in the other games, Elfie sends them to you as she finishes working on them. Fuck that "recon mission" shit, they already knew the Lightning Beings were back, so it's like Roddy was just having some risky fun because he got sick of waiting for Elfie to finish the parts.
When Jason died I assume he'd taken SOPHIA down the same pit Roddy drives down at the beginning of the game. Given that Roddy is a lot smaller than Jason was we can assume he's using a spare suit or SOPHIA can conjure up new ones, but how did they get SOPHIA back?
The back insert says that if the lightning beings aren't stopped, they'll hollow out the earth so its empty shell collapses on itself. Uh, I think somebody failed Geology 101.
So, according to the Enemy Below manual, Jason was "a warrior of legendary proportions", but when he dies all he gets is a chinsy wooden cross out in the middle of nowhere?
Roddy mentions how after Jason died and because Eve was already dead, he and Elfie had to fend for themselves. Really, Jason had no friends or relatives who could take them in? Not even Alex?
Going back to that pendant cutscene after the cube boss, how did Roddy get the pendant off? He doesn't take his helmet off and pull it off over his head, he doesn't untie it, he just pulls the thing right off his neck. And he doesn't even yank it, just casually removes it. If you're as active as he has to be in combat, you probably wouldn't want to be tying knots that come open with a light pull.
When you enter the room in the Lava area that you need the hover to get into the second part of, Roddy stops to ask "What made these tracks? These are huge!" Well, what made them? The game never tells you.
THE LINES ON SOPHIA THE 3RD'S WHEELS DO NOT LINE UP LIKE THAT! NERD RAAAAAAAGE!
What happened to all the other Signar-Elians who chased the Plutonium Boss to Earth with Eve and Kaiser? And their SOPHIAs? Did they pack up and leave out of embarrassment that their entire species couldn't do what one human in the same gear could? Where would they have gone? Signar-El was nuked. Jeez, the novel's version in which Eve was the only survivor because she was on Earth when the Boss went Lavos on her planet, and the Boss got the coordinates to Earth from her made a HELL of a lot more sense than what goes on here. Hell, maybe it could have happened like that, then years later, shock and horror, we find there's another Signar-Elian who survived, maybe was even directly mutated by the Plutonium Boss, and now he's made it to earth and he's pissed.
Why do Eve and the Kaiser call each other "Eve" and "Kaiser" instead of "Yvtrkizj" and "Whatever The Kaiser's Original Name Was"? Okay, I'm willing to suspend disbelief for "Eve" and not just because the alternative is a bitch to pronounce, but I find it rather unlikely the Kaiser's name was always "Plutonium Kaiser".
Why does Eve ask the Kaiser if he intends to be the "second" Plutonium Boss? Isn't he, like, the fourth or fifth?
How did Roddy get Elfie back out of the hole after saving her from the Kaiser?
Seems like it'd be awfully cramped in the cockpit for two people.
I remember back at the Blaster Master Underground forums, back when this game was released and I still went there, reading all kinds of batshit explanations for what goes on in this game including the "Elfie was adopted!" thing. Maybe it's just how cynical I've gotten in the past nine years, but here's my explanation for all this; the writers cocked up. See, isn't that a lot more concise, not to mention more likely?
On that subject, one of the fruitier theories I heard somebody offer is that Signar-Elians can shapeshift but Roddy lost this ability to his human half. There's one very confusing line in the novel that suggests that; when Jason asks Eve if she's nuts, Eve says "I have tried to attain a suitable human form." Eve's problem with English doesn't make it any easier to figure out what she meant by that (should could have meant "maintain", or she could have been talking about how her people evolved), and since Jason doesn't pursue the subject and there's no other evidence they can shapeshift (it's not like she says she transformed into a human to blend in with them during her studies or anything, and SOPHIA's interior was made for a human, for cheese sake) I'm inclined to dismiss that as a mistake, like when Alex originally said he was looking for his pet lizard when he ran into Eve, then later on it was his lobster (don't ask me how a lobster outran him). But still, what the hell was that supposed to explain regarding Blasting Again? This is Blaster Master, people, not Daniel fucking X. Even if Roddy is an orphaned, blonde, fifteen year old human-alien who protects the world from evil aliOH GAWD I'M CREEPING MYSELF OUT AGAIN.
Looking up the four voice actors on IMDB provided some good, unexpected laughs, the best one being that Rumiko Varnes, Elfie's VA, also did Alia in Mega Man X7. I probably found that way funnier than I should have, but you gotta admit that's still pretty hilarious. Also amusing to me is that Christian Storms (Roddy) has played two guys named Jason, in Firefighter F.D. 18, and some movie called The Pavillion Salamandre. Jeff Manning (Kaiser) and Rumiko Varnes actually have done a fair amount of video game voice acting, but they're almost all games infamous for terrible voice acting like Symphony of the Night (Manning did Shaft), Mega Man X7 (which Manning also did "additional voices" for), and a bunch of games featured in this video (I've never played TRAG, but why do I get the feeling Varnes is the "Lalalalala" girl?).
Did anyone else notice the Kaiser capturing Elfie, Roddy bitching about why it wasn't him instead, and Eve taking over to assist Roddy and be his voice of reason is an awful lot like the Boss capturing Eve, Jason bitching about why it wasn't him instead, and Alex taking over to assist Jason and be his voice of reason in the book?
For the people who haven't picked up on this, despite the rather glaring hint I gave in the Overdrive review, here's the explanation of SOPHIA J7; Roddy and Elfie named the upgraded SOPHIA after their dead parents. "J7" is said "JaySeven." Take "Eve" out, you're left with "JaySn", or "Jason". I just find that amazingly clever, and if that's not where that name came from, that is one hell of a coincidence.
I just thought I'd mention that there's nothing in this game called the Overdrive; SOPHIA's ultimate attack is called the Acceleration Blast.
Wasn't sure where else to mention this, but the maxed out gun is bloody worthless. It's a blue flamethrower with horrible range that only takes one hit to lose (every other level takes 2 or 3 to lose), and you're far more likely to get hit while using it in the first place.
In all five games, you are never required to learn Jason's name. His name is nowhere to be found in Blaster Master, Boy, or Enemy Below. His name only appears in Blaster Master 2 when you try to enter the room in Area 3 you need the goggles for without them. Roddy and Elfie only refer to him as "Father", and the cutscene where Eve speaks his name is not mandatory, although it's pretty hard to miss if you don't know it's there. So if you didn't have any of the games' packaging (for some reason), did Area 3 in Blaster Master 2 right the first time, and managed to miss the room in the final Roddy dungeon where Eve gives the history lesson, you would never know his name.
You know what I love most about the wonky exposition, half-finished story, and bad voice acting that I've spent this article bitching about? Want to guess how much dialogue is in the most powerful and memorable moment in the whole game, that still makes me go "... holy shit!"
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