Time. In the pantheon of gaming nemeses it’s a bit of a shit one. It’s hardly up there with your Baiters, Pulsars and Red Ghosts now, is it? Still, it has undoubtedly stuck up a two-fingered ‘Game Over!’ salute at me more than any bug-eyed alien or stamina-draining end-of-level boss. Despite this, I still can’t bring myself to wave an angered fist at something as intangible and inoffensive as a clock. Thankfully, Blast Corps goes some way to redressing the balance.
Time is a lumbering out-of-control truck. More specifically and crucially, a truck with a great big nuclear missile strapped to the back of it. Bit of a fuck-up by the haulage company, presumably. Possibly a mistake pointing it in the direction of an awful lot of buildings, too. Still, nobody will complain about those Sellafield trains of nuclear waste clattering past people’s doorsteps in the middle of the night after this.
Tough tough toys. Although the crane is a bit gay.
Now, there’s a simple fact to videogames that can never be expressed too often or strongly enough. It is hugely enjoyable, cathartic even, to destroy things. Preferably with big explosions. Blast Corps knows this. It sets up a scenario of impending peril, and rather than give the player some wishy-washy saving-people-from-disaster brief, it demands that you get right to the business of destruction. More International Demolition than Rescue.
There’s a desperate urgency to Blast Corps. The inexorable trundle of the missile truck, the ominous rumble and wailing sirens as it approaches. In its wake, a trail of destruction. Admittedly, that’s down to you, as you’ve been furiously busy, bulldozing, blasting and bombing the neighbourhood flat. And it felt very, very good.
Later levels have you hopping from bulldozer to buggy to dump-truck to giant robot in your attempt to clear the missile’s path. Years before Halo, here’s a game with a bunch of vehicles that are all unique and fun to play with.
Jesus. Think of the children!
More than anything Blast Corps looks and feels like playing with your Dinky Toys in the garden. Like Tonka and Transformers in the land of Pikmin. It is Rare’s one true original flash of design genius – a beautifully simple premise which the designers pull into all kinds of interesting shapes, without ever losing sight of what makes it fun.
And that missile truck… I can swear and shake my fist at it for all I’m worth now. Wouldn’t have it any other way.