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Final Blaster

version: jp - year: 1990 - developer: namco - publisher: namco - format: pc engine, hucard - condition: mint - rarity: common

Level 2 isn't very difficult


Level 3 suffers from occasional sprite flickering and some slowdown when too much is going on


No secret here: just learn the pattern and this boss becomes very easy


Set your ship to full speed and use your phoenix attack for best results


Level 5 requires some pattern memorization


Hit the eye when it's open and avoid the tentacles and the bullet showers


The first part of the last level is very tough but also fairly short. Concentrate on surviving and hit what you can. Stay in the center-bottom of the screen to maximize your chances. If you get hit though, you won't have time to catch the power up icon you lost...


Here, you'll have to fight against some of the previous end-of-level bosses


The 2nd and final form of the last boss. Aim for the eye when it's open and move a lot to avoid being cornered.


Final Blaster was a very tough shooter. Only 5 credits are provided to go through it but it's definitely worth the effort!


Developed by Namco (or should I say Namcot?), Final Blaster is unrelated to Hudson's Final Soldier.

Review - After playing Final Blaster for about a week, I probably earned myself a nice little warm place in Hell.

Never had a game made me curse so badly as this one. It simply got the worst out of me, unleashing my darker side without restrictions! Scary? Probably. The reason?

Final Blaster is a very tough and frustrating shooter where ships that went off screen keep on shooting at you even if you can't even see them anymore. Also, enemies sometimes attack so unexpectedly with blazing fast speed that either you know they are there so you can avoid them or you have no escape because reflexes alone won't guarantee your survival. Losing a life makes you suddenly regress to your basic weapons setup although you can still try to pick up the green flying icon which you leave behind when you explode to restore your previous firepower. The problem is that it flies off screen quickly!

Moreover, if you complete a level without dying, the next level will have a much higher difficulty so the better you play, the more challenging the game gets! These elements probably make you think that Final Blaster is a cheap game, engineered by sadistic programmers with the ultimate purpose of vexing frustrated players. This is at least, the impression I had initially.

As I dug more into it, I learned to appreciate it for what it is: an unforgiving journey into space-hell. I played countless shooters and honestly, I think Final Blaster should be a shooter not to be missed.

For one thing, it looks pretty good. Levels are varied, there often is some parallax scrolling and you even have some partial control over the scrolling itself. In fact, you can slightly slow down or accelerate the scrolling depending on your needs. The effect is actually pretty unique. On the armament side, you basically have two kinds of basic weapons to choose from: lasers or spread or a combination of both. You can also unleash a devastating phoenix attack by holding down the fire button for a few seconds. It looks cool (and somewhat familiar if you played Konami's CrisisForce) and it's very powerful. You should use the phoenix attack when you're not powered up to maximize your chances of survival. Another neat characteristic of the game is the speed adjustment function. It adds a further layer of depth to the game as you'll often be required to tweak your speed depending on the situation you're facing. Your ship will actually look a lot different depending on the speed you select because of the cool fan-shaped wings.

The final levels look particularly inspired. In the Egyptian-themed level, bird-shaped hieroglyphs beautifully carved into stone blocks will suddenly come to life and attack you. Their wire-frame iconographic look create a unique sense of surrealism to this space shooter which suddenly jumps into the realm of oneiric symbolism. That same level gradually merges the finely hieroglyphs-decorated architecture which seems to have been erected by the hands of an advanced ancient civilization to wild and carnivorous plants which then take over the entire level.

The last level sees you travelling in the nest of an alien abomination. The highly detailed and slightly “giger-esque” backgrounds boost an impressive amount of parallax scrolling while aliens will hatch out from the surrounding walls and unpredictably jump across the screen while spawning many tinier baby-aliens which will go in every direction. With the screen littered with jumping aliens and their spawning siblings, alien ships and homing missiles, you'll be required to concentrate to the extreme only to avoid collision. My advice? Either get there powered up or if you only have the basic weapon equipped, just keep on powering up and releasing the phoenix attack without worrying too much about where you shoot (because you can kill some ships before they show up on the screen) while your main focus should be to survive the general chaos taking place all around you. You can even try to gun down some of the bigger aliens while in mid-air before they let out the smaller ones but it's very hard to aim at them…Once you make it out of this nightmare, stay close to the bottom-left side of the screen before you get teleported elsewhere to fight some of the previously defeated end-of-level bosses. Get rid of them by setting your ship to full speed and by using your phoenix attack on their weak spots and you'll finally get to the last boss which looks like a really awesome and terrifying digital rendition of H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu ! Here, take out the red orbs as quickly as you can, avoiding tiny parasites which persistently flood the playing field flying back and forth in and out of the screen. You'll eventually get to the second and final form of the boss which is maybe the hardest as he'll try to corner you and literally bury you under a stream of stuff which he'll vomit right onto you. Constantly circle around him, hit his eye when it's open and do not get cornered. Eventually, if you don't give up, you'll make it…

Aside from the extreme difficulty, if I have to find something to criticize, that would be the music which doesn't sound particularly inspired (except for the eerie last stage) and the occasional sprite flickering and slowdown. In the end, Final Blaster rewards memorization, determination and perseverance but also skill and ultimately perfection! And by perfection, I mean going through the 7 levels of the game without dying in order to be fully powered up for the final onslaught.

On a side note, I understand why the PCE was hailed as being the console for shooters although now, this prestigious title has been passed on to the more powerful Sega Saturn (which also has tons of shooters in its library). Nowadays, many players perceive PCE shooters as being obsolete in terms of audio-visuals. This could be true but no Saturn shooter manages to be as hardcore as PCE shmups such as this one or other ones like Gunhed, Super Star Soldier, Down Load, Sinistron or Rayxanber II to name a few. The truth is that PCE shooters are simply aimed at the most die-hard shooting fans out there. Their extreme difficulty but compelling gameplay push players to give everything they got (and even more) to beat them. Saturn shooters probably look and sound better but they feel watered down. It seems like shmups manufacturers made a trade-off in order to make their games more accessible to the mainstream. My opinion on this? Once you're done practicing on the Saturn, get into the elite PCE club to truly witness shmupping madness where you'll actually find the true essence of Japanese 2D shooters. And believe me, once you go down this treacherous path, going back to more modern shooting games will be a breeze :)

Bottom line: an tough yet addictive shooter and one of the better ones on hucard....9/10











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