I don’t remember who recommended Shadow Blasters to me, but when you’ve got someone’s enthusiasm in your ear, it’s hard to pass up a cheap Genesis game. With horrible cover art that looks like a group of people doing exercises on a beach, it at least came with the promise of being tacky as hell. So, I gathered my husband, and together we dove in to try and discover why this game came as a recommendation.
WELCOME TO YOUR DOOM
Do you remember Altered Beast? It was a pretty awful sidescroller that gained massive popularity for its graphics, violence, and shirtless
Yet, while Altered Beast was more of a beat-’em-up, Shadow Blasters is a lot more projectile based, with you hurling attacks across the screen. You can charge your attack, which is a pretty key
It’s a typical left-to-right affair, with six levels to pick from at the beginning. There’s a decent variety throughout, with some being straight stretches, while the others include climbing trees and navigating platforms. The actual platforming is incredibly rudimentary, though, so the most creative obstacles you run into is crumbling footholds.
THIS IS ABOUT WHAT NOW?
There are four characters to choose from, but each time you lose a life, that character is dead until you have to continue. Weirdly, if you’re playing two players, each player can only choose from two of the four characters. Not sure why that limitation was put in.
The story involves some sort of god lending you their power so you can go and save humanity from demons. I actually can’t comprehend what’s going on. It’s told through ridiculously slow text scrolls, and it includes some weird concepts like invisible demons and humans being jerks. It’s not really important, nor is who these characters are, but the fact that it’s nearly incomprehensible makes for a really weird experience.
SATAN SMELLS LIKE BABY OIL
What really weighs the game down is just its overall level of clumsiness, which is a bit difficult to be more specific with, so I’m just going to give some examples. Take the Streets level, which has sections of ground that caves in beneath you. Navigating these sections with two players is a nightmare because it’s easy for one player to dash across, leaving the other stranded on the other side. The enemies are just aggravating in general, because you can only shoot straight up and to the sides. Most of the enemies, however, attack with varyingly erratic patterns, or from angles that you can’t aim at. It’s a good thing you have long life
Except when it comes to some boss encounters. While a few of the bosses are challenging, others have easily identifiable exploits, like blind spots where they can’t hit. One of the later bosses is a purple, muscle-bound Satan who looks like he’s slathered his muscles in baby oil. However intimidating his well-maintained physique may be, he can’t hit you when you crouch in the bottom left corner, making things really easy. I was able to repeat a similar exploit on the final boss, as well, which is probably for the best, because that fight is pure bologna.
What I’m getting at is that the game is incredibly rickety. It fully lacks polish, with many of the hazards and enemy patterns having the bare minimal of thought put into it. I also want to know who thought it was a good idea to send you back a level if you fail on the penultimate stage, because that made my heart sink for a moment. We ended up focusing hard and avoided repeating the issue, but I was almost ready to give up for fear that we’d be stuck in a loop, endlessly fighting greasy Satan.
We ended up getting some enjoyment from Shadow Blasters, but I honestly wouldn’t say I recommend it. Out of the jillions of other cooperative Genesis games out there, it rates pretty low on the list of what you should play with your significant other. Although, maybe I’d put it above Altered Beast.
It’s just a really janky game. We blundered through it in under two hours, and this includes the time we spent accidentally killing each other by speeding across falling platforms. It’s not a bad game, but it almost feels like the bare minimum of effort was applied to making a game. It’s pretty short on creativity, and as generic as a post-it note. So maybe just skip it.
This review was conducted on a Model 2 Genesis (Rev VA3) using an original cartridge copy of the game. It was paid for by the author.