Blaster Master and the summer of 88

Playing Blaster Master Zero has really brought back a slew of memories for me regarding the series’ first ever release on the Nintendo Entertainment System. The ominous music, along with its introduction cut scene captured my attention right away and within moments I was fully vested into hunting down a teenage boy’s pet frog who was going to lead his owner into a heap of trouble. A “heap of trouble” was quite accurate for myself as the player, as Blaster Master is a notoriously difficult game. My first initial rental of the game, I was only able to conquer the first two mutant bosses of the game and found myself stuck fighting the Photophage of Area 3; repeatedly with no defeat but my own. With my rental period over, it was time to take the game back with only a mere three stages experienced.

A few months later, the June sun would finally start bringing the warmth to the Mid-west and with that came more playing outside, away from the NES. That year was an incredibly hot start to the summer and my dad’s solution to beating the heat was taking my little brother, older sister and myself to the city pool. I’ve never been a great swimmer, but a dip in the pool hit the spot. After a few hours soaking up the water and the sun, it was time to head home.

Much to my surprise when I came home, my mother informed me that I had received a letter from Nintendo! Nintendo?! What could they possibly be sending me? My 6-year-old mind raced with excitement as my mother handed me the bright red envelope with the Nintendo Power logo plastered into every side of paper.

Thinking back to this moment now, this may or may not have been the first time I heard of Nintendo Power. It was it least the second time I was exposed to it in another fashion if there wasn’t an included advertisement for it with my Nintendo Entertainment System. The included tabloid mailer read of the wonders of Nintendo Power magazine with amazing tips, reviews and looks at upcoming video game releases. The thing that sealed the deal for me though, was a secret trick for Blaster Master on the back of the mailer!

With this trick, you could beat the mutant bosses of stages 2, 4, 6 and 7 with a single grenade. By throwing the grenade at the boss and pausing at the right moment, you could generate continuous hits that would zap the mutant’s strength to zero in seconds! While I knew this trick wouldn’t work for the boss I was having issues with; I DID know that I could get to it faster and thus have a better chance of defeating it. There was one issue however: I didn’t own the game and I would need to rent it to try this cool trick out. Another issue was I had no money, so this meant I had to ask my dad if it would be alright if we could rent Blaster Master even after he dropped money on taking us the pool and most likely McDonalds for lunch as well.

I get so nostalgic seeing this tip and it was included in various NES game boxes eventually too.

I think my dad could tell how genuinely excited I was to get another crack at the game and possibly even beat it this time with this new secret weapon we discovered. After mulling it over for a minute, he said “OK! Let’s go see if we can rent it!” and we were off to our local video store to grab it.

After that, my memories get fuzzy. I can remember nailing the level two boss with a grenade and cheering when the trick worked after we got home, but I cannot remember for the life of me how far I got after that. What I do remember though, was a perfect summer day. A day at the pool, a day with my dad and just how happily exhausted I was with all the events of the day. The memory of that day has a strange blue haze to it when I try to visually recall it, but it makes me smile thinking of those events.

You could say the day was…a blast.