Blaster (video game)
|Designer(s)||Eugene Jarvis, Larry DeMar|
|Release date(s)||1983 (Arcade)|
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer (alternating)|
|Cabinet||Upright, Sit-down and Duramold cabinets|
|Display||Raster, 292 x 240 pixels , 272 colors|
Blaster is an arcade game developed by Eugene Jarvis and released by Williams in 1983. The game is a 3D shooter set in outer space and is a quasi-sequel to Robotron: 2084. The objective is to shoot enemies and avoid obstacles in twenty differently-goaled levels in order to reach paradise. The game had advanced graphics at the time of release, that used scaled sprites to display the impression of three dimensional worlds and asteroid fields.
According to the opening demo:
- "The year is 2085 and the Robotrons have destroyed the human race. You escape in a stolen space shuttle. Your destination: Paradise. A remote outpost 20 million light years away. Does paradise exist? Can civilization be started again? These questions will be answered at the end of your journey. But first, you must BLAST... OR BE BLASTED!"
The introductory text implies that the game takes place after the events of Robotron: 2084. However, aside from a few oversized G.R.U.N.T. robots in the first stage, none of the Robotron characters make an appearance in Blaster.
The game is controlled with an optical joystick and two buttons: fire and thrust. The ships weapon fires from a linear bank of four pyramid-shaped shots. Shots do not emanate toward the exact center of the screen; the first shot in the series will be furthest left, while the fourth will be furthest right. The player is given three lives and extra lives are awarded every 100,000 points. The player has a life bar, in likeness to similar games such as Star Fox; however in this implementation, the life bar represents three hit points, and not a continuum of health points. When the ship gets hit a second time the text "ENERGY CRITICAL" will be flashed on-screen. Almost everything in the game can be destroyed, from the asteroids to enemy shots. In fact the latter is a critical component of surviving for an extended period of time.
Marooned astronauts can be rescued by interception through the various waves. They are initially worth 1000 points, and are incremented by 200 points for each subsequent rescue during the same life, for a maximum value of 2000 points. Any situation where enemies appear in groups offer additional bonuses for destroying all enemies in the group. In some levels, such as the Saucerland waves, there are conditions which necessitate a certain order for the ships to be destroyed in. In most of the levels a large blue "E" decorated with arcs of lightning can be found. Shooting these E's will completely fill the shields, while colliding with them will cause the player to warp to the next wave. Before warping, every object in the level will turn into E's and the ship will speed against a backdrop of a field of E's.
Blaster was originally programmed by Vid Kidz for the Atari 8-bit family and the Atari 5200 console, and then converted to the arcade version. The Atari versions were eventually scrubbed during the corporate shuffling that occurred after the video game crash of 1983, although they were finally found and released to the public in 2004. This game was programmed using a chip that ran at only 1 MHz, "and man did it hurt", says Jarvis. Footage of his discussion is available in the trivia section of the Blaster History page in MAT 1. Only 3 sit-down machines were ever produced. One is on display in Palo Alto, California in the home of Eugene Jarvis' father. The second was converted into a machine for "Devastator" a prototype game that was never released (not to be confused with Konami's 1988 title Devastators). According to Jarvis, there have been unconfirmed sightings of the 3rd, but as of the release of Arcade's Greatest Hits Midway Collection 2, its whereabouts are unknown. (Midway Arcade Treasures Vol. 1 recycles the same interviews from previous compilations, such as the aforementioned Midway Collection 2.)
Versions and re-releases
The game was first made available as a part of the Midway Classics Volume II. The game was also made available on the PlayStation 2, GameCube, IBM PC, and Xbox video game consoles as a part of Midway Arcade Treasures.
The Blaster wooden cabinet is certainly the Holy Grail for collectors and there are very few to be purchased at any price. Even tracking one down is incredibly hard to do. One can typically find this game in a Duramold cabinet. The official registry for this game is an attempt to keep the legacy of this game alive and to promote the preservation of this past gone era and to pay tribute to the creativity of the golden age of Arcade Games.