You see I grew up on a staple diet of sidescrolling beat-em-ups, shoot-em-ups, and run and gunners. During this era I formed a love for the sprite work, the pixelated graphics and the rudimentary graphical effects such as Mode 7 and Blazing Chrome is the perfect love letter to these great gaming times.
Blazing Chrome is a side-scrolling shooter that was taught from the Konami school of Hard Corps. Millions of glowing bullets (have you ever wondered how all the advanced aliens in these types of game can only muster glowing balls for bullets?). There is more chaos on screen than a Spectrum loading sequence and of course plenty of guns guns guns.
The story is nothing to write home about and is perfectly typical of the era it’s emulating. AI controlled robots have taken over the world along with monsters that have more teeth and eyes that they know what to do with. The few humans that are left are on the edge of annihilation, with little in the way of fight left in them.
After news reaches the human camp of the AI’s power source location, a small group of rebels decide to lock and load and go take out the mechanical menace once and for all. I say small group, but the main mission is carried out by just two hard as nails soldiers, Mavra a badass female resistance fighter or Doyle a deadly insurgent robot. Alone or together they set off to destroy the machines.
What ensues is a one or two player romp through beautifully released 16-bit worlds, aliens that defy biology, Mode 7-esque sprite scaling, and more bullets than a bullet factory. The main crux of the game is, of course, your side scrolling shooty pew pew action. If you have ever played a Contra game you know what to expect. You have the basic mechanics of 8 directional shooting mayhem either on the move or stationary if you hold down R1. Other than that its just a case of holding the fire button down and unleashing laser hell on the alien scum. To help you in your quest there are some weapon power-ups to collect, anything from grenades to mega charge lasers. These are easily switched in and out with a quick tap of the R2 button to accommodate your Extra-Terrestrial killing needs. Amongst the power-ups, however, are some assist bots, these will with help in the attack by shooting by your side or help in defense by surrounding you in a protective shield or speeding you up. It’s like R-Type meets Alien Storm.
Dotted amongst the sides-scrolling bits there are some platform sections to break up the shooting. There is also some perspective changing levels, the obligatory elevator level, and the forced scrolling bike level are present and correct. Every conceivable level you have seen in the past is here and it’s wonderful. Of course, there are the mid-level and end of level bosses which are as imaginative as they are hard. Be prepared to die lots in these boss fights. I guess the good news is, if you die, 95% of the time it’s your own fault. I tend to rush too much so inevitably die. Take your time, learn the patterns, just like you used to back in the day and all will be well.
Everything about Blazing Chrome is just spot on, the shooting, jumping, character movement, boss patterns even the annoying jumping/flying enemies are all pixel perfected. There is no lag, stuttering or anything that might disrupt the flow of the game. It feels like developers JoyMasher have been working on this game since 1992 one pixel at a time just to get it just right for release in 2019. A labor of love for sure.
Amongst the pixelated brilliance however, there are some small teeny tiny issues that I’m willing to forgive just because the rest of the game is just so damn awesome. So games of this ilk are infamous for being hard, like balls hard. And Blazing Chrome is no different, even on easy you’ll be pulling your hair out. Most of the time because of your own stupid mistakes, other times because the game throws some annoying cheap tricks at you and that’s not cool. If I die I want it to be because I messed up.
The weapons themselves are not that imaginative either, and no matter which one you pick up, the game automatically makes that your current gun, which in the middle of a blazing gun battle with your finger firmly pressed on the fire button, you will just suddenly stop firing because you just walked over a grenade launcher power-up that doesn’t rapid fire which will inevitably lead to your death. The assist bots, as much as they are helpful, sometimes leads you into a false sense of security. If you have one, you can’t help but think you have an ‘extra hit’ but you don’t. If you get hit its game over still. And finally, I would have liked to have seen a bit of variety in the characters. Like the robot being slower but more powerful, or the soldier having a double jump or something. But as it stands they are almost identical. But like I said these are small crimes, and to be fair probably me picking holes because I got annoyed at loosing for the 100th time.
I love this game so much. It is everything I could possibly have asked for from a game that’s emulating the era I grew up with. The pixel work is sublime, the tiny little details that are offered by the extra power of the PS4 are wonderful but disguised in such a way that doesn’t distract from the overall look and feel of the game. The music is your typical 16-bit affair with dramatic distorted drums and synths working over time. The sound effects and speech are muffled samples which makes me sit back in my chair and imagine being in a smokey arcade with sticky carpets, reliving my youth in the best possible way. The whole package is just as near damn perfect as you could possibly ask for. This has gone straight on the list of my Game of the Year Contenders.
This most definitely is a Paul joint.
Blazing Chrome is out now on PS4 (reviewed on PS4 Pro), Xbox One and PC.
Designer: Danilo Dias
Publishers: The Arcade Crew, CE-Asia
In order to complete this review, we received a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy please go here.
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