Blazing Chrome is a run-and-gun 2D side-scrolling shooter that’s an indie love letter to the likes of Contra and other Konami games of the 16-bit era.
Blazing Chrome came to Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PS4 this week and is a lot of fun. It pays homage to the Contra series that clearly inspired the game with everything from the great 16-bit graphics, excellent music and feel of the game. At the core of the game is the true run-and-gun gameplay. You charge through levels with machine guns that can shoot an unlimited amount of bullets. Run, jump, shoot, go prone and also stick to one position and shoot in many directions allowing you to cleat out the many oncoming enemies. Starting out with a simple machine gun you work your way through levels and pick up new gear along the way with the likes of grenade launchers, laser whips and a vast array of guns you can use to help clear your path.
There’s a good amount of variety in Blazing Chrome in terms of terrain you have to cross, set pieces you have to face and equipment you can use. The levels are varied in their design as well as orientation too. One minute you’ll be running through futuristic warehouses shooting your way to safety, next minute you’ll be jumping up platforms and dangling from ropes and other climbing apparatus and gunning down enemies from above. Hop into mech suits, which look like something out of Robocop, to give you that extra damage boosts you’ll need.
The game certainly offers up a challenge too. You start out a level with 5 lives and if anything touches you you’re dead in true mid-90’s style. If you lose all your lives you’ll be sent back to the last checkpoint allowing to you learn and master the oncoming levels. It’s not easy, always fun and gives you that sense of wanting to see the next crazy set-pieces. Huge robots crash through the backgrounds to try and shoot you with their laser vision, massive alien worm slugs burst through the sand… you get the idea. Fantastic, over-the-top, big set pieces and bosses were a trademark of Contra and Blazing Chrome does not disappoint on this either.
The story is pretty straight forward, militant AI-fueled computers rule the Earth while humans are expendable, lacking power, prestige or status among their machine overlords. Choose to play as Mavra, a human resistance soldier, or Doyle, the insurgent robot. As part of the resistance, it’s your job to drop behind enemy lines on a suspected suicide mission. The story is big, brash, silly and perfect… it reminded me of Arnie films from the mid-’90s like Total Recall or Predator. Silly, but in the best possible way.
Blazing Chrome feels true to the era it pays tribute too through the artwork, 16-bit style with layered backgrounds and parallax designs to give it that sense of movement and depth. The game is designed in a 427×240 resolution which is the same size as the retro consoles it’s based on. The developers also took the limitations of the retro platforms into consideration with the colour palette as JoyMasher restricted the colours used to stay true to the design of the time. The music in the game is bombastic and goes great with the graphics and over-the-top story.
The game is great fun and available multiple platforms at a reasonable price and could be considered the Contra sequel we never got. If you recently picked up the Contra Anniversary collection and that left you wanting more, then this is an ideal purchase for you. The game is challenging, tough and will beat you most of the time. But the mastery to achieve here is very satisfying. Throw in the big boss set pieces, mech suits and a variety of levels then you have a very entertaining game in your hands.
I knew little of Blazing Chrome or JoyMasher before I played the game, but I was left with a really good impression. This is a studio who clearly has a passion for retro-inspired games and their execution here is A grade. I had a lot of fun with Blazing Chrome and I’d recommend picking it up. I played the game on PC, but it’s available on all platforms right now.
Platforms: PC, Switch, Xbox One, PS4
Release Date: 11th July 2019
Thanks to JoyMasher who provided This Week In Video Games with a review code for PC.