Why isn’t every video game just Blast Corps?
Destruction is an integral part of gaming. Mario might be saving the Mushroom Kingdom, but he’s destroying every block and murdering every goomba along the way. Mega Man seems to cause more damage to the environment with his continual pew pew than the evil Robot Masters that quietly play in their own rooms. Samus Aran takes only scans and leaves only planet debris. Even going back to the days of Pac-Man, your average Pac-Maze is a lonely, boring place after Pac-Man has emptied it of everything of value. Maybe the ghosts are just defending their soon-to-be-abandoned homes.
It’s not just the classics: modern gaming has been reveling in destruction of late, with games like God of War that make blasé events like destroying a row of pots just as visceral and cinematic as battling a minotaur. The most contemporary game I’ve played recently, Batman: Arkham Knight, features Gotham-loving Batman driving a tank and shooting missiles at drones and, whoops, every building, tree, and pedestrian in Gotham City. It’s a good thing the Gotham skyline is constructed from solid diamond, otherwise property values may plummet in Murder Clown City.
Despite devastation being a veritable piece of gaming DNA, it is rarely celebrated. Well, yes, I suppose most games reward points and bonuses for destroying random items, and even predominantly nonviolent games like Portal grant trophies for terminating particular objects and environmental doodads. But at the end of these games, your heroism is celebrated, and not your unending desire to see every last crate and barrel transformed into splinters.
Nearly twenty years ago, though, there was a game that reveled in its destructive side. Blast Corps is, at its core, a game about destroying everything in sight, and then getting a medal for doing so.
The plot of Blast Corps is delightfully goofy: someone decided to load all of the world’s nuclear armaments onto one truck, put the truck on autopilot, and, whoops, Chernobyl on wheels is out of control, and just puttering along at 10 MPH across the USA. Somehow, the only solution is to destroy every last building, rock, and castle (?) between point A and point Detonation, and the titular Blast Corps are here to do the job. Why the Blast Corps and not any other company for this nationwide emergency of catastrophic proportions? Well, know any demolition companies with a skyscraper sized robot that utilizes a jetpack? Didn’t think so.
Obviously, this plot is just an excuse for unending destruction. The goal is clear: destroy every building in the way of the nuclear caravan and then while, ya know, you have time to kill, destroy every other thing. Don’t worry about the fact that you’re destroying entire cities, I’m sure everybody has Blast Corps insurance, and survivors (distinctly named “survivors” in all game materials, because what else would anyone in the way of the Blast Corps be?) just saunter out of leveled buildings and wait for their heli-evac… Hm, never considered how much the military industrial complex could assist the motel industry. There’s also a handful of scientists that must be found/rescued across the levels, and, like any search and rescue operation, it is accomplished by laying waste to entire towns and just hoping there’s an apparently indestructible scientist huddling in a corner somewhere. Hop on the helicopter, Einstein, and maybe next time grab a cell phone so we don’t have to missile an entire tower to find you.
There’s a pile of interesting vehicles to use in Blast Corps, from the basic bulldozer to a heavily armed, motorized tricycle to a giant, one-armed mech that can only attack by rolling into a rising uppercut. Oddly specific, that one. My personal favorite is the other mech that jetpacks up into the stratosphere and then “ground pounds” through whatever poor structure happens to be below (a Terran Jetman, if you will), but maybe there’s something wrong with you and you prefer the dump truck that can only attack through reckless sideswiping. I won’t judge your clearly incorrect choices. But while there are a variety of rides, there’s a very limited way of interacting with the world in Blast Corps. At all times, you are either destroying something, moving something into place (so the undulating apocalypse doesn’t experience a single bump), or moving something into place to destroy something (yay bomb blocks!). At a glance, this seems incredibly limited, on the other hand, it’s all you’ll ever need.
The secret of Blast Corps is that, aside from a few, generally dump truck based issues, it is fun from beginning to end. The first vehicle introduced, the bulldozer, exemplifies the basic principles of Blast Corps: here’s your medium, there’s some buildings, now go run into them. Your only enemy in Blast Corps is time, whether it be the encroaching genocide convoy or a literal timer in bonus stages, and the complete lack of a “health meter” for any and all vehicles is instrumental to just having a ball and ramping your dune buggy up over a gully, into the air, and then smashing through a soon-to-be-exploding building. In reality, that kind of destruction would turn the driver into something resembling beef jerky, but in Blast Corps, you’re doing it repeatedly and being rewarded for it. Your “invincible” vehicles tell you everything you need to know here: just go at it, have a fun time, and knock down everything.
I live and have lived at a shore resort nearly all my life. Despite my translucent complexion, I have spent great swaths of my existence at the beach, and have observed a great deal of beach behaviors over the years. Children at the beach do two things: build sandcastles, and blow sandcastles to sandcastle hell. Guess which kid I’m more likely to be, and here’s a hint: do not trust me around heavy machinery.
Destroy it all and let the helicopter sort ‘em out.
FGC #23 Blast Corps
- System: N64 and Xbox1. This is a game that likes numbered systems.
- Number of players: One, though you can be very competitive with the various bonus stage’s high score rankings.
- Do the Blast Corps ever make it to space? You better believe they do!
- Xbox One or N64? Why do N64 graphics look so terrible on the N64? Like, always? I never even knew ol’ one-armed mech was supposed to be shiny…
- So did you ever beat this game? Considering the dearth of N64 games when this one was released, holy hell did I beat the pants off this game. I can’t even tell you how many hours I spent with this thing, mainly because it would require digging up a controller memory pack to find that information…
- Did you know? Apparently this game was predominantly made by like four guys. Four. That’s all it takes to create pure joy, apparently.
- Would I play again? Solid yes. I am looking forward to knocking back whatever crazy challenges the Rare Replay collection decided to set up for this game. I am become death. Again.
What’s Next? Random ROB has chosen…
What’ll we do with these
Makes a boot
To get health
They eat flies
Here come the Battletoads
Here come the Battletoooooooooads
(Please look forward to it)