Charge’N Blast

Gamestyle Archive intro: another long forgotten straightforward arcade port to the Dreamcast. Just fodder to fill a thinning release schedule and it showed.

Writer: JJ

Format: Dreamcast

Published: February 2001

VERSION: US DC

DEVELOPER: Sega

PUBLISHER:  Sims/Xicat

GENRE: Arcade shooter

ACCESSORIES: Rumble, VMU.

PLAYERS: 1-2

RELEASE: Out Now USA, Europe TBA

LINK: www.xicat.com

 Charge N Blast jap - front

This title is an oddity to say the least.   Initially developed by Sega (the team who did Sega Bass Fishing) with a view to an arcade release that never materialised and instead arriving on the Dreamcast.   Although developed by Sega, they have chosen not to publish it themselves and instead sold the rights to a third party.   I wonder why?

You play the role of a member in an elite squad who check meteor crash sites when they appear.   The meteors play host to a range of aliens mostly of the insect and reptile variety (think Starship Troopers) with the occasional Godzilla look-alike.   The squad consists of three members, which you can choose from but they fulfil every cliché known to man.   Johnny Rock is the young blonde dashing hero, Pamela Hewitt is the token female and Nicholas Woods is the big strong male.   All the characters have the same 3 weapons with different characteristics however it is possible to complete the game using the same weapon.

The levels are fairly brief affairs consisting of several minor aliens before tackling the Queen or King alien and then repeat till the end.   As the crash sites are spread all over the world you will find yourself in different environments however the design of the game does not advantage of this – a shame as shooting underwater must surely have some effect?   The bosses themselves always have a shield generator that you must destroy before being able to defeat them.   Once you have mastered the control system it won’t take much effort to cruise through the levels.

The control system is one that you are either going to love or hate but everyone will struggle with it at first.   The analogue stick controls your aim, Y+B+X all relate to one weapon and A is the fire button.   The incoming bugs can be avoided by using the left and right triggers to side step them.   As the title of the game suggests you need to charge your weapon (by holding down the appropriate button) before pressing the fire button.   In a way it is refreshing, as you have to consider how charged your weapon must be to defeat a foe (bosses need a full blast) and how close they are to you.   Yet the system is very frustrating to learn and is the biggest challenge in the game.   I would have preferred an option to use the mouse and keyboard or even the underused lightgun as with the in-built D-pad and buttons it would have worked well.   You can select a first person view that raises the difficulty stakes but without the light gun it is pointless.

I enjoy retro arcade shooting games but this is very poorly implemented and will only take you 30 minutes to complete.   Once the main mode has been finished all you will have left to occupy your time is the ranking and time attack modes and nothing else.   There are no alternate routes, bonus items or skills to acquire – which added depth to House of the Dead 2.   The game graphically is very reminiscent of the infamous Sega shooter and perhaps uses the same engine.   I can’t remember HOD2 displaying slow down, yet the frame rate in Charge N Blast drops dramatically when the action picks up and you have only 3 or 4 targets to blast.

If the action was fast and furious it would have kept me interested for a while yet within two levels of this game I became bored; such is the limited game play on offer.  Do yourself a favour and avoid this.

Presentation: 4

Graphics: 5

Sound: 4

Gameplay: 3

Lastability: 1

Overall: 3/10

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