Retro Game of the Day! Blazing Lazers
Blazing Lazers by Compile, masters of ultimate shooting death mayhem apocalypse. Completely! Released 1989 for the TurboGrafx-16, PC-Engine. Have you played this game yet? Have you? If not, drop what you're doing, put down whatever it is - go play this!
Gunhed in Japan (loosely - ? - based on a sci-fi movie of some manner), this was one of the launch titles in NEC's American lineup. Like with other games I have mentioned, I saw this game at a pre-launch event and was jolted by what I saw. I had played my share of shooters before, but this...
Here's the story. You are a lone fighter on an intergalactic mission to destroy everything that's not you. Nothing unusual there - collect different weapons, power them up to ridiculous proportions, lay waste to your foes. Yadda yadda yadda. Thing is, BL does this with a here-to-fore unprecedented style. The audiovisuals were crystal clear, everything shimmering and blinking and beautifully, lovingly rendered in a way that was just not possible on the weaker 8-bit machines of the day. This was some good looking gaming right here.
Sure the ship and the scenery look good - how about your weaponry? Man, it looked gorgeous. Picking up your turbopad felt like handling some kinda heavy artillery as you got into the game, I mean the feeling you got from powering up your little fighter with crazy-abstract rendered weapons was like nothing I'd ever experienced before, on a home console, in an arcade game, nothing - this was far superior. You'd get these crazy laser weapons, boost-boost-boost them up, shooting at this point would literally fill the screen with long glowing firey snakes - and you could power it up even more, it was a thing of beauty. And though you were so empowered, the game would hit you with all it had to keep reminding you that even then, you were still outgunned, outmatched. No, I never beat Blazing Lazers, but then Compile's not been known for developing easy games for wusses (again - I refuse to play the game on the "easy" setting! That's no fun)
This encapsulates the entire experience then, a glorious arcade effort which heralded a new breed of shooters for that console generation. Many of the similar efforts still hold up very well today, simplistic but satisfying adrenaline-fueled gameplay. The name sounds a bit silly, but it grows on you - Blazing Lazers was a rocking good time!