Blaster Master Zero review - Was it worth remastering this NES classic for Switch?

Blaster Master Zero is a remake of the NES classic platformer, Blaster Master, which launched on Nintendo 3DS and Switch back in March.

It's not a completely like-for-like remake though. The visuals have been jazzed up, modern trimmings like a map and save points have been added, and difficulty has been balanced across the game.

And by balanced, we don't just mean easier. That's certainly the case for certain areas, but others have been increased in difficulty where necessary to bring it in line with the rest of the game.

But how does it hold up to the original? Is it worth buying on Switch? These are the questions we aim to answer in this review.

What's going on?

Blaster Master Zero is set in the distant future, right after an ice age nearly wiped out humanity. Fortunately, the survivors managed to escape underground, where they built a fully functioning world.

It's a great plot for a game, but it merely provides a backdrop for the protagonist's actual quest - finding a frog named Fred.

Yes, you read that correctly - you have to find a frog. Apparently it's an undiscovered species in this world, and renowned scientist Jason wants to recapture it following its escape so he can perform more tests on it.

So he ends up chasing it into the bowels of the earth where he discovers a tank-like vehicle, and the remains of the artificial world created during the ice age.


It plays a lot like your typical Metroidvania. You'll explore a 2D world full of platforms to navigate, enemies to blast, and items to find, and can do so either on foot or in your tank.

For the most part, you'll opt for your tank. It's got more firepower, can jump higher, and can survive massive drops. You occasionally will have to leave it though, as it can't fit under tight passageways or go through doors.

It almost feels like a partnership forms between Jason and the tank, as you need each other to navigate the environment. It also keeps things fresh as the two handle very differently.


The main goal of your adventure is to find a series of caves which you can only enter on foot. Here, the view switches to top down, and the game turns into a traditional shooter.

You have a variety of weapons to use - some of which need unlocking. Your primary weapon can be altered to provide a bunch of different firing options as well, like a shotgun or flamethrower.

You'll need the power to perform that function though, gained by picking up red power cells. If you get hit by an enemy, you'll start to lose power. It's a clever system, which provides an extra layer of intensity over just trying to survive.

Each cave has a unique item you'll need to complete your adventure. This could be a map of the environment, a new weapon, or a tank upgrade necessary for progression. It's all very Metroidvania.

For the most part, these are guarded by bosses. These are pretty much your standard Metroidvania bosses - learn their patterns, exploit them, shoot them until they're dead. It's challenging and fun.

Blaster Master Hero or Zero?

Overall, Blaster Master Zero is just a ton of pure retro joy. Whether you're leaping across platforms, blasting every enemy in sight, or strategically bringing down bosses, you can be sure you'll be having fun doing so.

It's lovingly retro, but provides modern trimmings to ensure the experience holds up today. You're never far from a save point, the map helps you figure out where to go next, and the updated pixel visuals are solid, if not spectacular.

The balance between modern and retro is perfect here. You'll never get frustrated but you can ignore any of the extra stuff that makes the experience easier. The map's hidden away in a menu, for example, so if you'd prefer to explore the old fashioned way - go for it.

If you own a Nintendo Switch and have completed Breath of the Wild, you really can't go wrong with Blaster Master Zero - it's a ton of retro shooter fun.

Blaster Master Zero review - Was it worth remastering this NES classic for Switch?

A fun retro shooter that's had enough modern tweaks to make it a nearly essential purchase
Chris James
Chris James
A footy game fanatic and experienced editor of numerous computing and game titles, lively Chris is up for anything - including running Steel Media! (Madman!)