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Charge 'N Blast

Score: 70%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Xicat Interactive
Developer: SIMS
Media: GD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

The graphics in Charge 'N Blast are nice and crisp, with a little slowdown--but nothing intolerable. The environments are generally quite detailed, although they have some of that arcade 'repetitiveness' in any given level. Each level is distinct, though, so you won't be confused as to how far along you are in the game. Some of the explosions are a little cheesy, but some of them (especially when you take out a building) are just damn cool. The beasties that you're fighting are also pretty cool, ranging from your standard mutant bugs to a beast with an uncanny resemblance to the big G himself.

The sound effects are strictly standard fare. You've got the pumping techno music, you've got the explosions, you've got the low-budget voice acting to tell you what level you're in and the female voice telling you that you have fifty seconds left in your energy pack or whatever. There's nothing here that you'll remember, other than the fact that the woman constantly announcing that she'll give you more energy gets very grating. Not to mention, if she has all that spare energy, why not give it to you from the beginning? But I digress.


Chances are good, however, that you won't remember much about Charge 'N Blast's gameplay either, other than the fact that it has a decidedly unique control scheme. The game is fast and furious, but it's over too soon, and there's not enough here to make you come back for more.

If you're looking for a plot, go somewhere else. This is the basic story of 'if it moves, shoot it,' with a theme of mutated Earth creatures and a unique twist on weapons systems. The object of the game is to kill all of the beasties in each segment of a level under a given time, after which you're given added time to complete the next section. This continues until you get to the boss of the level, which you must defeat to progress to the next one. You have a health meter that is depleted every time you're hit, so you have to watch both your time and your health.

That's all pretty standard. What's not standard is the way that you actually control the game. Your character is limited to moving left and right--strafing, basically. You use the analog stick to move a cursor on the screen that shows where you're aiming. Then you use one of three buttons to select a weapon and start it charging, and the 'A' button to fire the weapon where you're aiming. If it sounds confusing, it is . . . at first. After about thirty minutes of play, you'll have the control scheme down pat, and while it never really becomes second nature (it's too 'over the controller' for that), it certainly becomes manageable. Charging the weapon makes it more powerful, so you can't just do a rapid-fire shootfest and expect to survive past the first level.

The problem is that once you manage the control scheme, you've pretty much got the game in the bag. Dodge the enemies, blow them up with the weapons, progress to the next level. Lather, rinse, repeat. The game never rises out of this--it is a port of an arcade shooter, after all--and once you've blazed through the entire game in a couples of hours of play, there's really nothing else left to do with it.

Yes, it supports two players, which definitely helps break up the monotony. And it has a time attack mode, which is moderately entertaining. There are also a number of different people that you can play as, each with different loadouts, but they end up playing very similarly, enough that it's not worth playing through with a different character.


The game supports variable difficulty levels, which is nice--it lets people who are not quite as adept at the controls have a chance at the game. Unfortunately, it ends up that the game's really got two camps of players: ones that grok the controls, and ones that don't. The ones that don't will put this game down in frustration after a few minutes of trying to control the characters and not come back to it. It takes a certain amount of manual dexterity to be able to manipulate the triggers, the analog pad, and the face buttons at once, and some people just won't be able to manage it. Those that do, however, will most probably find the game simple enough to blaze through in a surprisingly short amount of time.

Game Mechanics:

I've covered the controls already in the above section, so you understand that the game pretty much uses every button on the controller, so you'll need to understand what's going on before you get playing--this isn't one that you can just pick up the controller and go, unless you like to be confused. The core mechanics of the game are simple enough--charge the weapon, aim it, and fire. Some of the multiseek weapons require you to get a bead on the various enemies before you fire, but that's a simple enough derivative. The problem is that it never does anything else other than point-and-fire.

Charge 'N Blast is definitely worth a rental, for those who like blast-a-thon games--the action is furious, and the graphics are sweet. The control scheme is also something that needs to be experienced because of its uniqueness. But it's doubtful that many people would actually want to buy the game, as it simply doesn't last anywhere near long enough to warrant a full-price purchase. Charge 'N Blast is fun while it lasts, but it doesn't last long enough, and there's not enough incentive to keep playing once you're done.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

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