Blazing Lazers is widely regarded as one of the best scrolling shooters of all time. In this reviewer's humble opinion, it is the best that the TG-16 console has to offer, period. Vibrant colors, varied and unique enemies, ominous music, crisp controls, and a weapon system with depth elevate Blazing Lazers above and beyond its peers. This is the side scrolling save-the-world spaceship game that Galaga wanted to be when it grew up. Experiencing Blazing Lazers on Console Classix was a special treat because I was finally given the appropriate medium to enjoy it -that medium being my hi-res flat screen monitor-. Be prepared to shirk professional and personal obligations before launching this gem!
The most unimpressive thing about Blazing Lazers is the story. An alien armada called the Dark Squadron is bringing the galaxy to heel using its advanced super weapons. The galaxy's only hope is the Gunhed Advanced Star Fighter, controlled by the player to free the galaxy from its would be oppressors. Sound familiar? Ok, so it doesn't exactly have all the plot twists of a Coen brothers' film, but hey, in the realm of scrolling shooters what story line does?
While utilizing the Gunhed Star Fighter's laser cannon and bombs, the player must blast their way through nine levels, each with at least one Boss super-ship at the end. The player is afforded three lives and four continues per game. Extra lives are awarded upon crossing certain score thresholds. After a player dies, their starship will re-spawn with only the base weapon systems, at the most recent checkpoint crossed. After using a continue the player will spawn at the very beginning of the level that the continue was utilized on.
The backgrounds of the levels vary greatly in setting, from deep space, to a barren desert, to inside a giant alien. The levels are all distinctly atmospheric and contain enemies unique to that level, however there are certain enemies that appear across a multitude of levels. Stationary enemies typically shoot projectiles until they have been destroyed. Flying enemies will pepper the player with projectiles as well as accelerate towards the player in varying flight patterns. Neutralizing the stationary enemies quickly will prevent the screen from filling with missiles and bullets, enabling the player free movement and the ability to consistently acquire power-ups.
Blazing Lazers is an overhead, forced vertical scrolling shooter. As with all scrolling shooters, dodging is the name of the game. The extent to which the player is forced to dodge is determined by the aggression and precision afforded by the player's weapon systems. Some enemy projectiles can actually be consumed and negated by certain weapon systems, thereby affording the player the opportunity to chase down power-ups.
The player's starship is equipped with a finite number of bombs and a laser blaster that can be used without limit. A huge aspect of Blazing Lazers is modifying the player's primary laser weapon by obtaining floating weapon power-ups and companion mods, then upgrading the mods and power-ups by increasing the power level, either through obtaining the same mods consecutively, or by obtaining floating purple "power gels" . The power-up system in Blazing Lazers is dynamic, and to effectively utilize the weapon options it is imperative for the player to understand what kind of weapon upgrade the floating power-up character pertains to. Below is a list of the various power-up characters and their corresponding modification effect. Note that each weapon power-up mod can be upgraded up to six times, usually adding additional projectiles and angel shots.
I - Photon Blaster The photon blaster will augment the primary laser fire while maintaining the look of the base weapon. This mod is the least useful of all the power-ups. Once the player has fully upgraded the photon blaster, projectiles will be shot forward, back and diagonally.
II - Power Wave The power wave is very strong and has a high fire rate. This weapon can be devastating to bosses, especially once the power level has been increased to near maximum.
III - Field Thunder The field thunder weapon mod is, in my opinion, the most useful power-up in the game. Once the power level in increased to a sufficient level, the field thunder will shoot wide laser beams in a half circle pattern around the front of the player's starship, easily frying enemy projectiles before they can impose any danger to the player.
IV - Ring Blaster The ring blaster mod forms a protective barrier of rotating balls around the player. When the weapon's power level is low , this weapon does not enhance the player's projectiles, however upon increasing the power level the ring blaster will not only maintain a ball barrier between the player and enemy, but it will also shoot revolving ball barriers in addition to the base laser projectiles.
Companion weaponry is another aspect of Blazing Lazer's weapon and power up system and can either augment existing primary weapon systems, provide a shield, or provide an auxiliary attack that is automatically utilized when firing the primary weapon. Companion weaponry fire power can be increased by obtaining consecutive power-ups that are of the same letter.
H - Homing Missile Adds guided missiles that shoot whenever the primary laser is fired. This power-up is the least useful of the companion options.
S - Shield Adds a pink shield that protects the player's starship by absorbing projectiles.
M - Multibody Adds a Doppler ship that appears laterally to the player's starship, mimicking flight patterns while shooting additional projectiles.
F - Full Fire Strengthens the power of player's primary weapon. This companion mod is especially useful when combined with the field thunder power-up, thus turning the laser projectile into a homing laser projectile.
Player's are able to upgrade firepower by obtaining consecutive power-ups or power gels. There are six power levels. A specific number of gels are required to increase a weapon's power level. The player's star fighter weapon levels are increased as follows:
Level 0 - 1 one gel
Level 1 - 2 two gels
Level 2 - 3 four gels
Level 3 - 4 eight gels
Level 4 - 5 twelve gels
Level 5 - 6 sixteen gels