The Game: Piloting a mobile cannon around a cluttered playfield, you have but one task: clear the screen of mines, without blowing yourself up, in the time allotted. If you don’t clear the screen, or you manage to detonate a mine so close to yourself that it takes you out, the game is over. If you do clear all the mines, you get a free chance to try it again. Two players can also try to clear the minefield simultaneously. (Gremlin, 1978)
Memories: It may not look terribly entertaining if you’re accustomed to graphics even on the Atari 2600’s level, but Blasto is quite addictively entertaining when you get right down to it, and its decidedly lo-fi graphics are just part of its charm.
Blasto vexes me because I tend to have a bit of a rigid, search-pattern style of thinking when it comes to cleaning up physical space. (Ask my yard.) That approach just doesn’t work with Blasto most of the time – you have to skitter around the screen and count on the time-saving technique of hitting one mine to detonate a bunch of its neighbors in close proximity; lone stragglers only slow you down. Blasto‘s simple graphics convey what they need to – going for photorealism with this basic setup wouldn’t help the game at all.
Blasto was actually turned into a home version; before his Odyssey2 days, game designer Bob Harris translated it for the TI 99/4a home computer, and reports that he created several interesting variations on the basic Blasto game…none of which made it to cartridge because of the strict limitations of the license. (What these variations were, he hasn’t said.)