One of the greatest genres of the arcade generation, shmup (shoot-em up) games were some of the biggest quarter eaters during the time of thriving arcades. The genre made a solid transition to home consoles as well, with many 16 and 32-bit classics such as M.U.S.H.A. and Raidant Silvergun coming to mind. FullBlast reminds me a lot of these games, but does it do the genre justice or is FullBlast stuck in the past?
The story in FullBlast is there, but it’s pretty pointless. You have a typical alien invasion, you have to save Earth from it, and blow up aliens. One problem I had with the story is that the text doesn’t seem like it had a proofreader. There are grammatical and punctuation errors throughout, and it just seems kind of odd that something this basic and simple was overlooked in the testing process for the game. Still, most people don’t play shmups for the story, but it was noticeable enough to be a distraction.
FullBlast is broken up into 3 areas with 4 levels each, giving a total of 12 levels. Each area has a theme, such as a destroyed city, but the game doesn’t really do enough to give variety in the graphics between those 4 levels in the area. You find yourself seeing the same destroyed buildings and cars, and it just becomes a bit monotonous and boring after a while. The music is another problem. While the tracks are solid, they are replayed way too often and, once again, become way too monotonous.
With the main negative points out of the way, there is some fun to be had with FullBlast. The gameplay is rock solid, with various item pick ups to keep the gameplay fresh, such as improved weapons and double score bonuses. The game introduces new enemies in areas as well, which keeps you wanting to blast through wave after wave to rack up high scores.
Scores are important, because there are online leaderboards. The game offers 3 levels of difficulty, and each one has it’s own leaderboard, so if you aren’t the most savvy player in the shmup genre you can still make an impact in the online world while playing on the “Easy” difficulty. One minor complaint is that the leaderboard is based on your total score for the complete game. I would have preferred it to be for each area or level, but this is a minor personal quibble.
The game is pretty visually appealing as well, aside from the issues with the repeating landmarks. Your ship is detailed impressively, enemies are abundant on the screen, and I didn’t experience any slow down whatsoever, even when the action was heating up. A few enemy and boss designs were a bit lackluster, but for the most part the game is rather appealing to the eyes. Also, the game offers 2 player local co-op, and still maintains a high level of speed and fluidity with 2 players aiming for a high score.
Truth be told, I had some fun with FullBlast. The visuals are solid, the gameplay is good, and it could have been a stellar title with some more polish. The strange text issues show that this was a bit of a rushed game, along with the fact that the game actually crashed on me twice while looking at the leaderboards. If you are a fan of the classic days of shmup games, FullBlast is worth checking out, just don’t expect anything revolutionary in the genre.