Oldschool Gaming - reviewing new games on classic computers
Main review :: written by Jason 

The world, especially the world that the Oldschool Gaming team inhabit, is filled very close to capacity with puzzle games. We've tried suggesting a congestion charging system but it was about as popular as the average soap star trying to start a musical career! Still, a well-constructed puzzle game is almost always appreciated here at OSG Towers and even a variation on the old action puzzle fogey itself, Tetris, can still go down well if handled correctly.

And considering that introduction, it shouldn't come as any kind of surprise that despite the title suggesting a shoot 'em up, Laser Blaster is a new addition to the constantly swelling ranks of what are probably best referred to as action puzzlers. But what isn't immediately obvious is that whilst it tips it's hat towards the classics of the genre like Columns or the aforementioned Tetris and an initial glance at the game reveals the all too familiar on-screen "well" with objects dropping in, this particular incarnation has a sneaky twist up it's block-oriented sleeve; these blocks have got some lines drawn on them!

Now, I'm sure that you've all just cried "big deal" (or possibly just cried if you've played a lot of puzzle games lately, I can sympathise) but bear with me here because this seemingly innocuous twist really makes Laser Blaster stand out as a puzzler; it changes things considerably because the game isn't simply a matter of getting three objects of the same colour or shape in a row, instead the lines must complete a row to be removed from the block and a block will only be taken out of the well when all of the lines on it's surface have been removed. What seems a trivial job when starting to play rapidly turns into a challenge as the blocks start to stack up and the emphasis shifts onto planning ahead. If you plan well (and if I'm totally honest, sometimes I got by on sheer luck rather than judgement) there are moments where a massive cascade of line removals take place which can be a massive relief if the well was getting cluttered!

One thing that I personally want to draw attention to is the soundtrack; whilst lacking in-game sound effects (which is a bit of a shame but not something that's ever worried me unduly with a puzzle game) there is what I feel to be an excellent and very humm-able piece of music bopping away in the background throughout; I have it burbling away as I type as well, it's that catchy. This is slightly at odds with the fairly bland graphics, which are functional and get the job done but just lack that little something to make them stand out... certainly, the lack of colour on the play area (strangely, the status panel has more colour than the blocks) is a shame but what is there moves smoothly and at least does the job for which it's intended. All in all, this is a great puzzle game that delivers by the shovel load on the playability front and manages to introduce a new twist at the same time, so although it doesn't really have a difficulty curve other than the slowly filling well, it really has to be worth a bit of playing time.

Second opinion :: written by Gordon 

The title suggests a shoot-em-up and the screenshots scream Tetris, but Laser Blaster is neither. Don't be disappointed: if you want something original that's not too taxing on the brain, you've come to the right place.

What impressed me most about Laser Blaster was that all the various pieces have their advantages and disadvantages. Multi-lined shapes are easier to connect but more difficult to remove, and the opposite is true for single line blocks: difficult to connect, but easier to destroy. The result is a well-balanced game mechanic that makes Laser Blaster play more like Tetris in terms of depth than many of its imitators.

Less thought has gone into the graphics however, with an uninspiring (and almost colourless) play area. Sound wise it's pretty average as well, the in-game tune opens with a bass riff disturbingly reminiscent of "Love Is In The Air" before settling into some passable techno-funk that loops a little too soon. And like its less distinguished rival Getris, there aren't any spot-effects.

All this doesn't really matter though - Laser Blaster may have average looks, smarmy sounds and a misleading title, but like those 2p toffees you used to get at Blackpool, the shoddy appearance masks a tasty centre. What a shame that it starts off a little too easy and is without skill levels, but if you can forgive that weakness however and are bored with other recent puzzlers, try this for size.

Information

LASER BLASTER

Format Atari 8-bit
Developer MatoSimi
Publisher ABBUC Contest
Released 2005
Price N/A
Review Jason and Gordon
Download Available
Screenshots
Titles Screen
Titles Screen
In-game Screen
In-game Screen
Scores
Graphics
Sound
Playability
Lastability
5
8
8
7
   Overall 7
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