The Game: The human race narrowly escapes the conquering of Earth by the merciless Robotrons. The last surviving remnants of mankind scatter as they leave the planet, heading for a distant world known as Paradise. Your job? Make sure they get there – by blasting away at anything and everything along the perilous journey. (Williams Electronics, 1983)
Memories: In the continuation of the Defender / Stargate / Robotron story cycle, Blaster builds nicely on the nearly-movie-worthy saga by picking up from the inevitable conclusion of Robotron (i.e., the protagonist’s death). Now humanity is on the run, and there are all kinds of nasty creatures waiting to finish the human race off, including the Masterminds, which look a lot like Robotron‘s Brains, only more hideous (imagine a large brain wearing a Darth Vader faceplate, and you’ll get the idea.)
At the time of its release, Blaster was a revelation of a 3-D, first-person space shooter game, though its graphics look fairly silly in comparison to today’s games along the same lines. But when one takes into account the difficulties of pulling such a project off in 1983, it becomes an impressive feat. No scaling software existed back then, none of the commonly available processors that drove arcade games had true 3-D graphics rendering and computing capability – even Zaxxon‘s impressive vistas were nothing more than unchanging wallpaper. So, as silly and chunky as Blaster may look today, it was quite impressive at the time.
Nobody was about to try to port this puppy to the Atari 2600, and a mostly-finished edition for the Atari 5200 and 8-bit computers remained unreleased. Blaster languished in obscurity until two perfect emulations of it popped up in the 1990s: the MAME version, and the very nice version on the Midway Collection edition of Arcade’s Greatest Hits for the Sony Playstation.