Cat And Frog
Created by Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya, best known for his work on Cave Story, Kero Blaster is a retro styled run and gunner that calls back to the 8-bit era. Now available on PS4, ported from iOS and Steam, this action platformer is sorta Mega Man-ish but with some grinding and RPG leveling.
Watch me get through a couple levels from my stream below.
While Cave Story was more open ended and Metroidvania-ish, Kero Blaster is a linear experience, running left to run, one stage after another. The story is ridiculous but it is supposed to be – Cat & Frog run a teleporter business and when these machines get clogged with baddies, it is up to the frog to clear the path. The characters and short story cutscenes provide personality just as much as the visual and audio presentation. Even the opening “select a save file” segment is different and the ending might even tingle an emotion or two.
Kero Blaster isn’t a long game and could be completed in one sitting. However, expect to die a lot. When the player first starts, only a couple of hits can be taken before restarting at the last checkpoint. But the game design allows the player to upgrade health and weapon abilities by spending the cash that enemies drop. Make no mistake, Kero Blaster is no Contra as the screen never fills with bullets but each jump, enemy placement, and hazard has been designed purposely to engage the player at a harsh but fair difficult setting. Bosses usually fill a large portion of the screen and will kill a few lives from your stock but each can be beaten once the player uses pattern recognition in combination with an upgraded inventory. It is trial and error but I never wanted to rage quit.
Uniquely, Kero Blaster limits the player’s shooting direction but utilizes a thoughtful control scheme. If the attack button is held down, the frog will continue to shoot in that direction regardless of the direction held on the d-pad. This strafing technique allows the player to move and shoot accordingly, even upward. It takes a stage to learn but works very well and wouldn’t be the same without it. I am sure this system was created for its original touchscreen mobile origins but still works here using a controller on a big screen.
Like Cave Story (and Mega Man), the ability to switch weapons increases the overall fun factor as some guns are better for specific tasks. For example, the bubble gun shoots down and bounces on the ground, making it great for clearing out enemies below. At the same time, this gun’s bullets float upward when underwater. Or the starting gun can shoot a far distance after getting upgraded or the player can equip a different rapid fire gun that shoot wide bullets. A jetpack will also be earned in time that allows for a handy double jump. But part of the fun stems from the floaty physics of the jumping and double jumps. Never sporadic or random, the looser play control might seem detrimental but actually makes the game what it is and gives the gameplay personality. And unlocking a new ability or weapon after defeating each boss provides incentive to keep venturing forward while offering variety.
After the half dozen stages have been finished, the New Game+ option is a worthwhile extension of the main game as it reworks each stage into something completely new including a new story. The main quest might only take a few hours but the player constantly grows with the Kero, making it easy to see how far the player has come in just a short amount of time. And if the gameplay wasn’t addicting enough, the pixilated graphics and chiptune soundtrack is easily a highpoint. While this isn’t Cave Story, Kero Blaster is a quality follow up to the fan favorite indie game.
Not As Good As: Cave Story
Also Try: Ikachan
Wait For It: a 2-player co-op game from Studio Pixel
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com