Friday, August 24

Review: Kero Blaster [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While there’s an abundance of shooters on the Switch as a whole they have a tendency first to be of the twin-stick variety, sporting 360 aiming whether top-down or even side-scrolling. Older-school side-scrolling shooters with a more traditional style are in much shorter supply and into that gap comes the very retro-looking Kero Blaster, coming from the developer behind the indie darling Cave Story. This time around it’s a much more basic affair but the fundamental gameplay is there if you don’t mind it’s mostly 8-bit era appearance.

The minimal story behind the game is actually a bit off-beat, with you playing as a janitor for the Cat & Frog Company. The bizarre and brief interactions you have with your “boss” and a co-worker are really just there for odd laughs, which is fine since it allows you to dive into the pretty classic action. Played out over several pretty diverse stages you’ll make your way through some varied environments, requiring you to deal with a variety of obstacles and enemies. At the conclusion of each stage you’ll face off against a boss, with each having their own attack style and sense of personality. The reward for defeating each of them is either a new weapon or piece of equipment, with each having something new to add to your arsenal.

Each gun has its own feel, and this is especially true as you upgrade them and they become a bit more powerful. While you’d normally approach games like these settling into a single preferred weapon you then stick with, the good news is that each of these weapons has a pretty distinct benefit and are worth cycling between when appropriate. In particular the bubble gun isn’t necessarily always best for enemies but can be quite handy when under water or you want to clear something out below you. After a few hours you’ll likely have moved through the main campaign and you’ll have the options to play through a remixed mode that offers new challenges or just a repeat of the campaign with the difficulty notched up further.

While it manages to avoid falling into too many repetitive patterns and stays engaging I’d say the experience has charm on its side more than excitement. It’s a solid traditional game but with the variety that’s out there, though not necessarily all on the Switch, unless that’s specifically what you’re seeking it may not be as appealing. This is more of a light romp initially but if you’re down for a challenge the unlocked modes more than deliver. If you’re itching to shoot things like it’s the old days this may be the ticket for you but if you’re thirsting for more modern sensibilities you may want to look elsewhere.

Score: 7.5

  • Has a cute and quirky charm to it in almost every area of its design
  • Delivers a very traditional side-scrolling shooter experience
  • The added remix and hard modes add to replayability factor

  • By design lacking in more modern sensibilities, possibly making it more niche in nature
  • Consistent with its style the lack of aiming versatility can be frustrating in places
  • The main campaign isn’t terribly long