Before the dawn of the modern day internet, there were thinkers, dreamers, and inventors tinkering with what was possible in the early days of the internet, a time of American Online, Internet Explorer, and Flash Games.
For passionate artists and programmers, many took to open-source websites, like Shockwave Dot Com, where players uploaded entire PC games for all to play. This method paved the way for all sorts of free, open content to be made available, but it would also be a place for developers to gain their start.
Such is the case of Blasting Agent, a game that first got its start in 2009 as a Flash game. Originally built on a game engine called Flixel, the game received positive praise from fans and critics, even winning awards in 2010. With this success, Blasting Agent has been reworked into Blasting Agent: Ultimate Edition. With a new open-source engine, known as HaxeFlixel, the original game has been enhanced and refined for new platforms.
In Blasting Agent, you are an elite special agent, tasked with saving the world. An International Terrorist Group, The Black Hand, has secretly led the development of a bio-engineered military. This includes cybernetically augmented soldiers and mutagenic monsters. With ambitions to take over the world, you, the player, are the only one who can stop this evil organization. Your mission is to infiltrate the volcano base and destroy the enemy.
Blasting Agent fondly reminded me of the military-themed, patriotic games of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Games, such as Operation Wolf, as well as Rush ‘N’ Attack, put players in an over-the-top role to fight the enemies of America and win the day. In a way, Blasting Agent is similar. The game tasks you with simply defeating the enemy to save the world. There are no cutscenes or over-arching story. Just the need to use your skills wisely and kick some serious butt with your cutting edge firepower.
Blasting Agent: ultimate Edition plays as a side-scroller. Players will shoot and platform their ways across 6 levels, ranging from icy mountains to molten caverns, and even the moon. Each level is filled with cyborgs and various hazards that players will need to contend with. At the end of each level will be a boss fight, which will require patience and precise maneuvering to conquer. For keen eyed players, there are multiple entry ways throughout the level that can lead to discovering secrets. The secrets can reveal special modules for your primary weapon, which is quintessential for achieving victory in the later levels.
With the basics out of the way, the gameplay for Blasting Agent is solid, especially for on the go platforms such as PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS. The game’s presentation evokes a strong sense of 8-bit systems but compels with fresh textures and a solid soundtrack. The gameplay is well built, with the shooting and jumping feeling precise. Players will jump to various platforms, avoiding hazards such as lava, while battling a vicious army bent on killing the player.
Soldiers, turrets, drones, and close range, sword-wielding troops will appear in 8-bit pixelated glory, determined to destroy you. Players are armed with one weapon: Their mighty laser rifle. However, over time, the rifle can be upgraded to have more powerful shots and spread to cover more ground. The boss fights are varied, and while they may appear to be simplistic, they are a good challenge. Players will fight bosses such as giant robots, snow monsters, and radioactive caterpillars. It is a solid sense of victory and reward to have wiped out all the enemies in a level, then conquer the level’s boss.
One thing players should know is that the game encourages players to replay and unlock secrets in order to advance throughout the game. In one instance, I encountered a high difficulty spike during the boss fight in level four. The boss fight involved a mutant eyeball shooting at me from the ceiling, randomly falling in the middle of the level and deploying smaller enemies. After an hour, I could not conquer this boss and gave up. However, I after looking at the “medals” section I realized that players should attain 90% of gold collectibles and enemy destruction in order to unlock special abilities.
I replayed each level up until level four, unlocking special abilities such as dash, spiked boots for stomping on enemies, and automatically spawning a frag grenade when firing my main weapon. Additionally, I discovered more gun modules to upgrade my primary weapon. Upon replaying level four, I managed to conquer the eyeball boss, moving forward to inevitably finish the game. This moment of discovery, effort, and subsequent victory felt great.
The only real drawback I can find for Blasting Agent is that despite its enhancements, there are only 6 levels and 2 difficulty modes. Players can beat the game on EASY mode, then switch to HARD mode to 100% the game’s content. While the game is short and it would have been great to see more levels, players will still have quite a fun time, especially when unlocking the game’s attributes. Additionally, Blasting Agent is only $3, making the game a very worthwhile investment for the price.
Blasting Agent: Ultimate Edition is a wonderful throwback title that not only nostalgically brings players back to simpler times in games, but also refines an experience to be fun, accessible and rewarding. While short, Blasting Agent is genuinely fun and entertaining experience for all those that sign on for this mission to save the world!