19th Jul2019

‘Blazing Chrome’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

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It’s safe to say that growing up side-scrolling game were my gaming bread and butter. Platformers like the Super Mario series on the NES, the Dizzy games on the C64; side-scrolling beat em-ups ike Double Dragon, Rygar and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES and later on 16-bit games like Final Fight and Golden Axe; and side-scrolling shoot ‘em-ups like Midnight Resistance (a game I sank waaay too much money into at the arcades and one that’s crying out for a HD remaster IMHO) and the king of side-scrolling shooters, Contra – especially, in my case, the NES version of the now-classic game.

Of course, given the recent trend for nostalgic indie games, we knew it wouldn’t be too long before those old-school side-scrolling games were given a new lease of life on places like Steam and now, thanks to the success of “Nindies”, on the Switch. Not so long ago we had the awesome Raging Justice, a throwback to the 16-bit era of the likes of Streets of Rage and Final Fight and now comes Blazing Chrome, a 16-bit-esque shoot ‘em-up that is OBVIOUSLY inspired by Contra, in particular Contra III: The Alien Wars (aka Super Probotector in the UK and Germany – thanks to censorship) – even mimicking the use of Mode 7 graphics on the SNES and featuring some very familiar level design: right down to bike chases and traversing acros level on monkey bars.

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There’s even a nod to that OTHER classic side-scrolling shoot ‘em-up franchise Metal Slug, in the use of power suits… suits which, frankly given the level design, are sorely needed! Yes, whilst Blazing Chrome is inspired by the Contra series, it is also as difficult and unforgiving as that franchise was too – even on the easiest levels! But the difficulty is the key to why this game works: there’s a real sense of satisfaction when you finally beat a stage, defeat a boss, or just get past a part of the level that you’ve been struggling with. Much like the games of old, replaying and learning is at the core of this game – not in the “each level is repetitive so you need to learn the patterns” way, but in a “I need to figure out what I need to do to make the game easier, through playing better” way. Which again reminded me very much of the console games of the past [...original NES Turtles game I'm looking at you].

In terms of gameplay, you start out with the choice to play as Mavra or Doyle, a human and robot soldier respectively, neither of which – beyond the physical appearance of their pixels – actually play any differently. There’s no weight difference between them, something you thing would be a thing given one character is a human and one is a robot, so their speed and jump ability is exactly the same. Doyle, a robot for gods sake, isn’t even less-susceptible to damage or has better waepons! So character selection is (very much like the original Contra games) merely down to personal choice.

Speaking of weapons, thankfully, unlike the games that inspired it, you start Blazing Chrome with a rapid fire machine gun and one that is actually, for the most part, key to getting through each level as the other weapons – which are scattered throughout each stage and often drop in to levels just before a particularly difficult section – are, in my opinion, pretty much useless. Yes, some cause MASSIVE damage but the sacrifice is usually slow fire rates… and I know which I prefer!

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Each of the ganes missions is broken up into semi-stages, with mid-level mini-bosses and – usually – a huge end of level boss that will p*ss you off to no end! In that you spend a LOT of your lives trying to get to said boss and then dying within seconds of the boss fight starting. Arghhhhh! is definitely the name of this game. Especially on that damn bike-riding level. I’ve never been as angry at a game as I have with Blazing Chrome, and I’ve played the original NES titles Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles AND Battletoads!

Successfully completing all four missions would, normally, result in the end of the game and a HUGE sigh of relief in Blazing Chrome’s case. But no, “finishing” the game reveals a fifth mission. Damn. And finishing that one sees the games – thankful – final sixth mission unveiled. I say thankfully and bemoan the extra levels of course due to the games difficulty level but in reality the inclusion of two extra “hidden” levels only adds to the value of this title. Which, between that and how damn hard the game is, will keep you playing for hours!

***** 5/5

As good as the game(s) it pays homage to,Blazing Chrome is available on the Nintendo eShop now.

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