Capsule Review: Kero Blaster

A retro-style pixel art 2D platformer and shooter. Jump and shoot your way through seven levels, each of which is an obstacle course of enemies ending in a boss fight (sometimes with a miniboss in the middle). While there are a few platforming challenges, the emphasis is firmly on combat - which is good, since your slow floaty jumps make precision difficult.

You start with a single weapon and expand your arsenal as the game goes on - a few bosses give new weapons when defeated and all weapons (along with max health) can be upgraded by spending coins found in chests and dropped by enemies. A lot of the fun comes from mastering each weapon and using the right one for each situation. The first level, played with only a single weak weapon, is therefore a bit dull. Later levels, for which you have more and stronger weapons, present more varied challenges that keep things far more interesting and satisfying.

Unfortunately, as the levels get longer and the challenge ramps up, the game’s frustrations also ramp up. Death normally resets you back to a nearby checkpoint - but you only have a handful of lives for each level, and running out means you must start over from the beginning. This gets aggravating when you run out of lives while trying to learn to handle the level boss and must redo the entire level to get another chance. However, you do get to keep all your coins, so you can likely afford an upgrade for the next attempt and can grind out more if needed.

I found this to be a worst-of-both-worlds solution. You still get the frustrating delay of having to replay the level when the boss fight is what you’re trying to learn, and then you don’t even get the satisfaction of conquering it on the original terms. Technically you could forego the upgrades, but then you’d fall behind the intended difficulty curve and likely spend even more time replaying levels to get back to boss fights.

If you aren’t bothered by this approach to punishment, the gameplay itself is quite solid. If I could have traded a few max health upgrades for unlimited lives - and thus made the challenging boss fights actually about learning and improving skills rather than grinding out level replays and upgrades - I’d consider this a great game. As is, it was only barely worth my time.

I Stopped Playing When: Despite two near misses where I ran out of lives when I was one hit away from defeating a level boss and nearly put the game down, I beat it on Normal Mode. I did not proceed to the newly-unlocked Zangyou Mode.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

You can get it or learn more here.