With a new Contra on the horizon, it's a good time to whet your appetite with some authentic retro run 'n' gun action.
Blazing Chrome has you and a friend play as the badass Mavra and the hulking robot Doyle on a mission to save humankind from hordes of evil machines. No matter which character you choose, you'll experience identical gameplay as they both have the same basic gun and can acquire up to 3 secondary weapons including an energy whip, grenade launcher, and charge rifle. Later on, you'll also unlock a couple of bonus playable melee characters in the form of a ninja known as Raijin and a warrior named Suhaila. Anyway, the core gameplay involves running, jumping, shooting, slashing nearby enemies, ducking, rolling, and you can hold a shoulder button to stand in place and aim. The controls are tight and the action is intense and challenging. It's all handled perfectly as if it's a long-lost Sega Genesis game.
One aspect of Blazing Chrome that blew me away is how authentic it feels. Many indie devs try to make true retro experiences yet JoyMasher really went above and beyond to make it feel like one. I swear; if you were to play it in front of someone and tell them that it's a Genesis game, they would believe you without a doubt. Not only are the graphics authentic, the audio is superb as well complete with rocking 16-bit music and cool explosions. That being said, the sound is super-quiet and I had to crank my receiver up in order to hear it properly. I hope they fix this in a patch soon. Aside from that minor complaint, everything looks and sounds awesome.
Blazing Chrome's campaign consists of 6 stages that contain many crazy scenarios. It's always fun to climb inside of a mech suit then wreak havoc for a limited time and riding hoverbikes as you take out incoming foes is great fun. You'll also speed through a tunnel in a third-person perspective near the end of the game which feels a lot like Space Harrier. Plus, there are a ton of incredible boss fights that are fine-tuned to be challenging yet rarely frustrating. Overall, the amount of variety in the action is superb.
Once you complete Blazing Chrome, you'll unlock a few extras that help extend its replay value a bit. For starters, there are 3 difficulty settings including an unlockable Hardcore mode. Next, you can challenge the bosses all over again in Boss Rush mode and you can play through the entire game backwards via Mirror mode which is kind of silly if you ask me. There are online leaderboards as well but as of writing this, the game completely crashes whenever you try and access them. I'm sure that'll get fixed soon, though, right?
Read what developers Thaís Weiller and Danilo Dias from JoyMasher had to say about Blazing Chrome's creation in our interview.
Unfortunately, Blazing Chrome also has a few downsides. Even with its unlockables, the campaign is rather short and nothing mixes up the gameplay substantially aside from the melee characters so you likely won't play through it more than a few times. I was also quite disappointed in the array of weaponry. The energy whip is the coolest weapon as you can flail it around yet the grenade launcher and beam shot weapons are more tricky than fun and end up making the already challenging gameplay even more difficult.
Next, I found there to be way too many surprise deaths that frankly felt unfair. For example, one enemy leaps out from the ground and snaps its tail behind it when it reaches the peak of its jump so if you're standing behind it; you're dead and with absolutely no warning. Another part has a bridge collapse so if you're playing with a co-op partner, they'll likely die if they're trailing even a little bit behind. One part that makes no sense is when you climb up vertical segments because you can't jump back down without biting the dust. Did the edge of the screen kill me? These vertical parts are even more annoying while playing with a friend as you can cut them off. One time, an enemy got stuck at the bottom of the screen for a whole segment and could shoot me yet I couldn't shoot it. That's just unfair.
Finally, the roll ability is problematic because you perform it by holding down and pressing the jump button. Often, I'd try to descend down a platform only to roll into an enemy and die. You can forget about aiming down to shoot enemies underneath you, too, because you'll likely end up rolling by accident. I wish they mapped the roll move to a separate button instead.
Blazing Chrome is an authentic retro run 'n' gun experience that'll surely satisfy genre fans. That being said, there are many frustrating moments that are difficult to overlook and the amount of content is a little thin, too.
- + Tight classic run 'n' gun gameplay
- + Exciting action throughout 6 stages with an impressive amount of variety
- + Spot-on retro graphics and sound
- - Disappointing selection of weapons
- - Plenty of unfair surprise deaths as well as an annoying control issue
- - Rather short with little replay value