|Platform: PS Vita||Publisher: Ratalaika Games||Genre: Action-Platformer|
|Release Date:||June 20, 2017||June 20, 2017|
|Price:||$2.99 USD / $3.99 CAD||£2.50 / €2.99 / $4.55 AUD|
|Review written by 2 Old 4 Gaming|
I have fond memories of gaming back in the 80’s on my BBC Micro and Commodore 64. This was before I had discovered the NES, when games came on cassette tapes and floppy discs. Blasting Agent: Ultimate Edition, developed by Axol Studio and published by Ratalaika Games, reminded me of the games I used to play on the C64 and I was curious to play it and see if it could win over the nostalgic gamer in me.
Gameplay & Story
In Blasting Agent: Ultimate Edition you play as the Blasting Agent that needs to stop some bad guys that are doing bad things. The story isn’t particularly deep or memorable and that’s fine. The game isn’t trying to have a deep narrative. The game is about fun, challenging and occasionally frustrating gameplay. It’s a 2D platformer-shooter where you traverse 6 stages fighting enemy minions and taking down large bosses.
Exploring the 2D environments is an important part of the game. There are many rooms that can be found if you take the time to search every area of each level. The rewards for exploration are worthwhile and are almost essential to get through the tougher areas of the game. You obtain upgrades to your weapon and health bar and new abilities as you play the game, provided you find all the collectibles and you and kill all the enemies.
I quite liked that the game had lots of new areas to find and explore. It made the level design more interesting and the optional areas had some interesting challenges like platforming over lava while avoiding fireballs or taking out rooms with large numbers of enemies.
The gameplay is very straightforward. Aside from movement there is a jump and shoot button and that’s it. It seems simple but you learn very quickly that the game is hard, very hard even at points. You’re health and weapon are very weak at first making the first 2 levels especially difficult. As you collect health and weapon upgrades, the game becomes easier but I hit a wall at the level 4 boss.
The bosses were varied in their attack and difficulty, but the I really struggled with the fourth boss. It took me an hour and a half to get to it and after the same amount of time trying again and again to beat it, I gave up. I realised that I had missed a lot of the upgrades from the early levels so I went back to get them and when i returned, the level 4 the boss became pretty easy.
Exploring and finding all the upgrades makes the game far more manageable but this also resulted in the last couple of levels becoming very easy. I found the difficulty strange in that respect. It’s too hard initially but after getting all the upgrades it becomes too easy. I found the 5th and 6th bosses to be especially easy by the time I had collected all the weapon upgrades.
Once you finish the game you unlock hard mode which brings back the challenge in a big way. I couldn’t even beat the first level on hard mode! Since death is inevitable in the harder areas of the game, its fortunate that there are hardly any load time between dying and respawning and you respawn at the last room you entered so you never lose too much progress.
The graphics are retro pre-8-bit. So the environments and sprites aren’t particularly detailed but this is the style the developer was aiming for. Some of the bosses are more detailed and better designed than others but overall I liked the graphics and thought that the developer succeeded in keeping the look consistently retro. The game was released on the 3DS last year and there were complaints of slow down and bugs but I didn’t experience any for the Vita version.
Music & Sound
The sound effects are again consistent with the retro games that I remember from the 1980’s. The sound effects aren’t particularly memorable, but the game music impressed me. The music is catchy and added weight to the game, as if you were on an adventure to take down the villainous organisation! I wasn’t really expecting much from the music and so it surprised me how much I enjoyed it.
Blasting Agent: Ultimate Edition can be finished in 3-4 hours, however it will occupy far more of your time if you aim to complete hard mode and obtain the platinum trophy. The game can cause frustration at times, especially if you’re not diligent at collecting the weapon and health upgrades. Once you get over the initial difficulty hump the game becomes more enjoyable. It’s also very cheap for a fun game that’s easy to pick and play but at the same time challenging.
Blasting Agent Ultimate Edition PS Vita Review:
The review was written and provided by 2 Old 4 Gaming. All screenshots are from the PS Vita version. The review is based on a review copy which was provided by the publisher.