Posted on 27 Jul 2019 by Jay Shaw

Blazing Chrome

The Defence

Developer: Joymasher
Publisher: The Arcade Crew, CE-Asia
Genre: Action, Arcade, Indie
Platform: PC
Review copy: Yes
Release date: 11 Jul 2019

The Prosecution

Minimum
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400
AMD Phenom II X2 550
VGA: Nvidia GeForce 9600GT
AMD Radeon HD 3870
RAM: 2 GB
HDD: 200 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: Unknown
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+

The Case

Blazing Chrome is unabashedly aping classics such as Contra 3 on the surface but does it have more to offer than basic run-and-gun gameplay? Well, yes and no. The core of the gameplay is all about the running and gunning, but you’ll need quick reflexes, a bit of planning ahead, and plenty of skill at judging situations in a flash to keep you moving forwards.

The Trial

Your basic skill set plays a huge part in making Blazing Chrome satisfying to play: you have a gun which you can shoot (obviously) and a melee attack that triggers when you press the shoot button in proximity to a breakable object or enemy. That’s the sum total of your offensive abilities. For movement you can run, jump, aim in eight directions, drop prone, and do a short roll. A bit of forward thinking and dealing with threats efficiently means you often won’t need this whole move set but when things get crowded and bullets are flying in every direction you’ll find yourself trying everything you can to get away from a one-hit death.

Your weapon contributes to the satisfying feeling of blowing enemies apart. The basic machine gun provides a constant stream of fairly average bullets that’s plenty effective but additional pick-ups provide you with; an energy whip that creates a short range but constant beam of damage, a grenade launcher with projectiles that have a large splash and can be detonated at will, and a powerful charge up laser that can dish out insane damage but leaves you vulnerable while charging and firing. Picking the right tool for the right situation is very important – you can get through the whole game with just the machine gun but you’ll have a far easier time if you mix it up – enemies that come at you from odd angles or slowly are incredibly vulnerable to the whip because it’s not tied to the eight directions while the grenade launcher can deal with bosses in a flash if you detonate the rounds in mid-air.

The energy whip takes some getting used to but can be incredibly useful.

Two unlockable characters expand these moves: Raijin and Suhaila have a Strider style melee attack that can be charged into a more powerful beam and can dodge left and right in the air using the controls that select weapons for the other characters. These two considerably change up the game, they can be more aggressive and get through levels faster but you have to be on point with your execution to not burn through your lives in a single stage. The risk-reward style of battling bosses with these two also adds a different type of tactics to those of the original two characters. Power-up style bots that add speed, or a two-hit shield, are great for the original two characters but really start to shine when applied to these melee fighters, letting you dish out plenty of pain thanks to a safety net letting you play more aggressively.

For the most part, level design is impeccable. You’re constantly presented with challenges from start to finish with the difficulty gradually ramping up to a peak about two-thirds of the way into a stage. Enemy patterns are always the same so even if you die you’ve gained a little new knowledge and can try a different approach. The real star of each of the six levels are the bosses: These behemoths will throw you into multi-stage duels against enemies with far more firepower than you, but in true Contra style you’re a nimble target and they’re a wall just waiting to be chipped down. Some bosses have destructible parts so you can limit their attacks by focusing on specific points while others are more of an endurance test.

You're going to see this screen a lot early on.

A couple of levels shake up the mechanics by setting you on a bike, eliminating your ability to prone and roll but giving you the chance to jump on top of other bike riding enemies to destroy them. A short obstacle segment has a single point where it feels like a beginners trap but otherwise works to give a moment of respite from the shooting. One section in the final areas of the game turns it into a tunnel shooter as you don a robotic flight suit and take to the air to blast your way into the enemy base, it’s a lot of fun but could do with more challenge as it feels like you’re on a power trip without really earning it.

Sound design is a mixed bag. Thankfully weapon sounds fade into the background, preventing them from becoming overwhelming with repetition but larger weapons like the grenade launcher and laser lack any kind of audio punch and just get lost amidst the chaos. Music however is a different matter: while they’re not something you’ll be listening to out of the game, each level’s music does a great job of setting the pace and mood. Excellent use of The Danger by Kristine, a song that wouldn’t be out of place in Top Gun, really helps sell that modern faux-80s aesthetic.

The Verdict

Blazing Chrome is undoubtedly excellent. Danilo Dias’ great art manages to evoke both Contra and the Amiga, a cheesy intro cutscene sets the mood, and non-stop action keeps you engaged. It’s an incredibly short game though; I’ve finished it twice in 92 minutes and that includes two smaller sessions just to capture screenshots. Two unlockable characters, a mirror mode, and boss rush provide some replay value but if you’re not chasing high scores you probably won’t put more than a couple of hours into the game. This is probably one for the hardcore Contra fans out there but shouldn’t be dismissed by anyone who enjoys a good action game.

Case Review

  • Shiny: Screen filters let you have the game as lo-fi or smooth as you like.

  • Slick: The action is fast and responsive.

  • Strider: Raijin and Suhaila are an excellent reward for beating the game.

  • Snowy: The obstacle section briefly made me angry.

  • Short: Might not be enough game for many, it is incredibly short.

5 Score: 5/5
Old-school fun, pure and simple.

Evidence

  • Graphics: Fullscreen and vsync toggles, multiple filter options for smoothing and scaling the visuals.
  • Audio: Sound effects and music sliders. Language selection.
  • Gameplay: Auto swap weapons on pick-up option, vibration toggle, speedrun mode toggle, and fully rebindable controls for keyboard and gamepad.

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