Blazing Chrome
Gameplay 9
Graphics 8
Sound 8

Blazing Chrome is a great run and gun shooter that draws inspiration from Contra Hard Corps and other 16-bit classics. It is an unforgiving game, but a lot of fun to play and the developers have done an incredible job with capturing the look, sounds and feel of the 16-bit era. While it only features six levels, they are all packed with enemies and bosses. You’ll also unlock some extra challenges and characters after completing the game to up the replay value. While it’s a pity that Blazing Chrome lacks online co-op, the local co-op is definitely a highlight.

Gameplay: The game is tough, but very fun.

Graphics: The 16-bit pixel art looks great.

Sound: Sounds like something right out of the 16-bit era

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Blazing Chrome

Developer: JoyMasher | Publisher: The Arcade Crew, CE-Asia | Release Date: 2019 | Genre: Action / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

It’s the year 21XX and things are not looking good for humanity. Humans are on the brink of extinction and robots are rapidly eradicating the ones that are left. The only hope that is left lies with a small group of rebels on a suicide mission far behind enemy lines. Their target is the big AI’s power plant, but standing in the way of success is a ruthless army of merciless killing machines. The chance of success is low, but the consequences for not even trying is worse, so the rebels have no choice except to push ahead.

This is the plot of Blazing Chrome, the latest title from JoyMasher. This talented studio has already proved that they know a thing or two about creating authentic retro experiences with their previous titles, which perfectly captured the 8-bit era. However, with Blazing Chrome, they have set their sights on the 16-bit era in general and the Contra series in particular. The Konami classic has had a number of popular titles over the years, but for many fans the 16-bit era was still the best for the franchise with Contra III: The Alien Wars on SNES and Contra: Hard Corps on Mega Drive drawing the most praise. This means that the bar that JoyMasher has set for themselves is quite high, but nobody can say that they didn’t give it their best shot with Blazing Chrome.

After an introduction cut-scene that will have retro fans swooning with nostalgia, it’s time to choose a rebel for the suicide mission. Players can pick either Mavra, the human resistance soldier, or Doyle, the deadly insurgent robot with questionable fashion sense. Apart from looks, both characters play identically, but ideally you will want to team up with a friend to take on the mission together. This is possible thanks to the local co-op support, but unfortunately, the game lacks any form of online co-op, which is really a pity. After picking your character, you get to select the level you want to tackle from the four available ones. You also get to pick the difficulty, but if you are playing solo or new to the genre, then we suggest starting out with Easy. Normal feels like it was designed for two players or at least players who are familiar with how punishing the 16-bit era was when it came to run and gun games. If you could complete the Contra titles with your eyes closed, then you’ll also appreciate the Hardcore mode that is unlocked upon completing the game on Normal.

If you play the levels in order you’ll start out by making your way through the ruins of a city, before intercepting an enemy supply train, infiltrating and destroying their new bio weapon facility and then disabling their communications tower.

Then it is on to a hidden outpost and the final level for the big showdown. While six levels might not sound like much, the game is challenging enough that it will take most players a while before they are able to complete everything.

Visually, the game looks like something straight out of the 16-bit era and we mean that in the nicest possible way. The pixel art visuals are as authentic as you can get and the game even features some nice visual filters to get that realistic CRT look and feel. Each level also looks unique, so one moment you might be jumping over burned out car wrecks in an abandoned city while the next you are sinking into the sand while trudging through a desert. The game makes use of some neat parallax scrolling for the backgrounds and we also love the designs of the enemies. Your foes are mostly of the robotic variety, but it seems like the robots have also dabbled in bio weapons, so you can expect to encounter a couple of gross insect style enemies. However, the real highlight of the game is the bosses who are as varied as they are deadly. Not only are most of them huge, but you’ll be squaring off against both bosses and mini-bosses on each level. While they can quickly demolish your stock of lives if you are not careful, they also always have glaring weak spots and tend to telegraph their attacks. This means that the game never feels unfair and each time you fail, you know exactly what you did wrong and can do better next time. The game also features checkpoints, so if you lose all your lives you can continue from one of them, but don’t quite before finishing a level as checkpoints are not saved.

What makes Blazing Chrome such a punishing game is the fact that you don’t have any health. Instead, if a bullet or enemy so much as grazes your character you die instantly. To even the odds a little bit you can find new weapons to use, including a grenade launcher and particle beam gun. You can also switch between the weapons you have collected, but whatever you were holding in your hands when you get killed is lost. This means that it is probably best to save that grenade launcher for the boss battle or risk having to face it with your puny assault rifle. In addition, you can find little battle bots every now and then, which reminded us a bit of the old Jaleco title, Shatterhand. There are three different battle bots and they will hover over your shoulder while providing you with additional support. This can be anything from providing extra defense to additional firepower or even a handy speed boost that also upgrades your jump to a double jump. Last, but not least, Blazing Chrome also throws in a nod at Metal Slug by providing you with mech suits that can be piloted until they take too much damage and explodes.

Most of your time in Blazing Chrome will be spent running and gunning, but the game also throws in a couple of different sections to provide a bit of variety. In addition to the mech suits we mentioned earlier, you’ll also encounter spots where your character rides a hoverbike. In fact, there’s even a Battletoads homage on one level where you have to dodge obstacles while speeding along. We also quite enjoyed the Space Harrier style jetpack section where your character flies into the screen while blasting enemies. The levels are all linear, so your focus is on blasting everything in sight instead of exploring, which is actually refreshing after playing so many Metroidvania titles recently.

Thanks to Easy mode and unlimited continues, it shouldn’t be too hard for most players to complete the six levels on offer. However, as soon as you have accomplished this, the game will provide you with some extra goodies to keep you busy. First up are the two brand new characters that will be at your disposal. Both of them are melee fighters, which means you have to get up close and personal with enemies in order to survive. This also transforms the gameplay from Contra style running and gunning to something that feels closer to Strider. Both characters do have charge attacks as well as air dash moves, which makes them a lot of fun to play with. Along with the new characters, you’ll also get the option to replay the game in mirror mode. So, instead of running from left to right, you get to do it from right to left, which is harder than it sounds, especially after memorizing the tricky spots in the game. The last unlock is a boss rush mode, which provides you with a timer and a string of bosses to take down as quickly as possible.

Blazing Chrome doesn’t just nail the 16-bit aesthetic perfectly with its 16-bit pixel art, but also does a marvelous job in the audio department. Everything from the music to the sound effects and even the heavily compressed sampled speech snippets sounds authentic to the 16-bit era. We also loved the way in which the ending tune that plays over the credits is set up. When it comes to controlling your characters we strongly recommend using a controller for the best experience. The game can obviously be played with a keyboard, but not a mouse as your character can only shoot in eight different directions and you have to hold down a button to remain stationary while firing. This can feel a little awkward at first, even with a controller, if you are used to modern twin-stick shooters that utilizes both analog sticks, but it is something that you can get used to.

Overall, Blazing Chrome is a great game, especially if you are a fan of the classic titles that it draws its inspiration from. The game itself is rather short, but you are going to need quick reflexes and plenty of patience before you’ll be able to fully master it. The instant kills also makes it rather unforgiving, but the checkpoints definitely help, even though they can be spread rather far apart on later levels. On the other hand, if you are a veteran and find the Normal game too easy, the leaderboards and Hardcore difficulty level, along with the melee characters and mirror mode will keep things challenging. Blazing Chrome is definitely a “what you see is what you get” kind of game, so if you are a fan of the genre or have fond memories of Contra Hard Corps, then you can’t go wrong with it.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7 32-bit
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 or AMD Phenom II X2 550
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: GeForce 9600 GT or Radeon HD 3870
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 200 MB available space
  • OS: Windows 7 64-bit
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 or AMD Phenom II X2 550
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: GeForce 9600 GT or Radeon HD 3870
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 200 MB available space

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