If gamers know one thing, it's that running around and shooting everything in sight is fun. Blasting Agent features a very retro approach to the run and gun genre so let's see if it provides enough explosive entertainment.
You play Blasting Agent by controlling a little dude to run and jump around open-ended stages that have multiple rooms and branching paths. Of course, you have to shoot everything that stands in your way as well. At the start of the adventure, this shooting seems pretty lame as you just have a basic pea-shooter and enemies can be a bit overwhelming. However, once you explore the early stages and uncover plenty of permanent gun upgrades (which honestly aren't that hard to find), your abilities as an agent will make the gameplay a lot more enjoyable. Your bullets will spread out more, reach longer distances, and pack a bigger punch. As this loop of exploring the levels, upgrading your character, and mastering the stages sinks in, you'll find yourself having quite a good time within the retro world of Blasting Agent.
There's no denying that Blasting Agent has some of the most old-school visuals when compared to its indie contemporaries. I found this visual approach to be rather intriguing seeing as I played a lot of PC games in the late '80s and early '90s such as the first Duke Nukem game from way back when it was a 2D franchise. That being said, this style results in a mostly plain world that you likely won't think fondly back on after completing the campaign. Similarly, the music and sound effects are rather bland for the most part and don't provide much flavour to the already generic graphics. In other words, it's a novel approach but not a universally appealing one.
Besides the permanent gun upgrades that I've already discussed, there are plenty of other unlockables to collect. The first is life bar upgrades that extend your maximum health. Next, as you play through a stage, you'll collect gold and defeat enemies and the total percent of each are conveniently displayed on the screen. Once you finish a stage and reach a certain threshold, you'll unlock some sort of reward such as new moves and costumes. These moves aren't explained but you could figure them out easily by fiddling around with the controls. Anyway, you'll also unlock a harder difficulty and a new playable character. This alternate character is surprisingly powerful as she uses melee attacks that basically render her invincible. In the end, these goodies are very rewarding to acquire.
Blasting Agent: Ultimate Edition's biggest downside is that it only includes six brief stages in its campaign. Once you start upgrading your character and come to grips with the gameplay, you'll be well on your way to breezing through to the end of the campaign and then be disappointed by how short it is once you complete it. On the other hand, the boss fights at the end of each stage can be impressively epic and unexpectedly memorable such as a giant one that chases you and a creepy eyeball with matching minions. However, I got stuck on these bosses a few times and not for the reasons that you may think. Sometimes, my character would disappear and I'd have no idea what was going on. Without the ability to perish or continue, I was forced to quit and begin the entire stage again. Keep in mind; this happened during a few different bosses so it's a big problem that should have been ironed out before release.
If you're looking for a fun albeit brief old-school shooting adventure then Blasting Agent: Ultimate Edition will fit the bill. However, don't expect it to be a revolutionary take on retro running and gunning.
- + Simple yet fun shooting and platforming with rewarding upgrades
- + Enjoyable unlockables
- + Crazy and memorable boss fights
- - Sights and sounds are quite generic
- - Extremely short with only six brief stages
- - Severe glitches may force you to restart