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 of 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. After completing the game, you’ll unlock some extra challenges and characters to increase the replay value. While it’s a pity that Blazing Chrome lacks an online co-op, the local co-op is definitely a highlight.

Gameplay: The game is challenging but enjoyable once mastered.

Graphics: The 16-bit pixel art looks great.

Sound: The audio 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 a ruthless army of merciless killing machines stands in the way of success. The chance of success is low, but the consequences for not even trying are 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 several 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 pretty 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 a 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 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, we suggest starting with Easy. Normal feels like it was designed for two players, or at least players 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, you’d also appreciate the Hardcore mode unlocked upon completing the game on Normal.

If you play the levels in order, you’ll start by making your way through the ruins of a city before intercepting an enemy supply train, infiltrating and destroying their new bioweapon 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 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 uses some neat parallax scrolling for the backgrounds, and we also love the enemies’ designs. Your foes are mainly of the robotic variety, but it seems like the robots have also dabbled in bioweapons, 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 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 quit 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. You can find new weapons, including a grenade launcher and particle beam gun, to even the odds. You can also switch between the weapons you have collected, but whatever you were holding in your hands when you get killed is lost. It is probably best to save that grenade launcher for the boss battle or risk facing it with your puny assault rifle. In addition, you can find little battle bots now and then, which reminded us a bit of the old Jaleco title, Shatterhand. There are three battle bots that will hover over your shoulder while providing additional support. This can be anything from giving 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 explode.

Most of your time in Blazing Chrome will be spent running and gunning, but the game also throws in a few different sections to provide some variety. In addition to the mech suits we mentioned, you’ll also encounter spots where your character rides a hoverbike. There’s even a Battletoads homage on one level where you must dodge obstacles while speeding. 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 refreshing after recently playing so many Metroidvania titles.

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 extra goodies to keep you busy. First up are the two brand-new characters that will be at your disposal. Both are melee fighters, meaning you must get up close and personal with enemies to survive. This also transforms the gameplay from Contra-style running and gunning to something closer to Strider. Both characters have charge attacks and air dash moves, making them 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 more complicated than it sounds, especially after memorizing the tricky spots in the game. The last unlock is a boss rush mode, which gives you 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 how the ending tune that plays over the credits is set up. We strongly recommend using a controller for the best experience when controlling your characters. The game can 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 awkward at first, even with a controller, if you are used to modern twin-stick shooters that utilize both analog sticks, but it is something you can get used to.

Overall, Blazing Chrome is a great game, especially if you are a fan of the classic titles from which it draws inspiration. The game itself is relatively short, but you will need quick reflexes and plenty of patience before you can fully master it. The instant kills also make it rather unforgiving, but the checkpoints 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, Hardcore difficulty level, melee characters, and mirror mode will keep things challenging. Blazing Chrome is 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, 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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