Gamers rarely form a consensus on anything, but if you were to poll hobbyists regarding the best run-and-gun shooters of all time, the Contra and Metal Slug series would surely be mentioned. They’ve endured as legends in a packed niche defined by high-powered weaponry, legions of enemies to blast, chunky explosions, wild multiplayer action, and hulking bosses. You can now add the recently released, JoyMash-developed Blazing Chrome to the genre’s annals. Featuring tense shooting action in a world devastated by a robot apocalypse, Blazing Chrome wears its classic video game and film inspirations on its sleeve. It doesn’t do much to push the genre forward with fresh gameplay features, but Blazing Chrome does nearly else everything right.
Blazing Chrome takes place in a world where humans live underground after an AI-controlled robot army seizes power. Thankfully, a resistance forms, one fronted by a soldier named Marva and her ally Doyle, a robot reprogrammed to defend humankind.
There’s a definite Terminator 2: Judgement Day vibe that comes with the sight of a blonde woman and her robot companion kicking ass, but Blazing Chrome’s sparse narrative prevents it from feeling as though it’s leaning too heavily on the James Cameron classic. In fact, Blazing Chrome’s thin story, one bookended by opening and closing cinematics, simply sets the stage and doesn’t get in the way of the action. Sometimes simple is better.
The Dream Team
You begin by selecting either Marva or Doyle. Besides a few animations, there isn’t much difference between the rebel fighters. Both fighters handle similarly as you jump, shoot, and melee attack the many mechanical monstrosities that seek to prematurely end your uprising.
That said, after you complete the game’s six missions—missions that you can tackle in any order much like the wonderful SNK-developed Shock Troopers—you’ll unlock two additional characters: Raijin and Suhaila. Raijin is a katana-wielding ninja, while Suhaila totes a cybernetic arm. The pair are more melee-orientated than the starting heroes and offer a fun, alternate way to combat enemies. For example, Raijin has an air dash that can get you out of trouble in a pinch (or into it if you aren’t careful). Unlike Metal Slug and Shocktroopers, Blazing Chrome doesn’t let you swap between characters after you run out of lives, but that’s no big omission.
Blazing Chrome’s level design is reminiscent of Contra III: The Alien Wars’ stages, with its bombed-out, post-apocalyptic landscapes. Fortunately, JoyMash eschews Alien Wars’ obnoxious, rotating Mode 7 levels; instead, the development crew uses hoverbikes and Space Harrier-like jetpack sections to break up the on-foot combat. The hoverbike sections are particularly enjoyable, as the increased game speed gives Blazing Chrome a shmup-like feel.
Like the Metal Slug games, Blazing Chrome scatters mechs throughout its stages. The mechs can’t take many hits, but considering that your player character can only take one, they supply solid armor. Plus, they deliver big damage to foes. If you can guide a mech through a stage to a boss fight, you can take down those powerful enemy characters in just a few attacks.
You’ll need the many weapons that Blazing Chrome tosses your way, as the game is just as difficult as the run-and-gun titles that inspired it. There’s an Easy difficulty setting that lessens the intensity and supplies you with bots that boost your offensive and defensive capabilities, but it’s still somewhat challenging; pattern recognition and supreme reflexes are still required to survive. Thankfully, the controls don’t impede your desires. Except in one instance, as I explain below.
Platform Movement Issue
In most platform-based run-and-gun shooters, pressing down+jump lets you drop from one platform to another. This has been a genre staple for a long, long time, as it lets you quickly change your plane when it comes time to evade an incoming attack or do damage to a different area of a boss’ body.
In Blazing Chrome, however, down+jump executes an invincible horizontal roll that’s great for evading attacks on your plane, but lacks vertical movement. This becomes somewhat of a problem in stages that have many platforming elements. Instead of immediately dropping to another plane, you must press jump and then guide your character down. It’s a bit awkward.
The Steam Machine
Blazing Chrome doesn’t demand many resources, as you’d expect from a game that boasts 2D, pixel-based graphics. According to the title’s Steam page, Blazing Chrome requires that your gaming desktop or gaming laptop contain at least an Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 or AMD Phenom II X2 550 central processing unit, Nvidia GeForce GT or Radeon HD 3870 graphics processing unit, 2GB of RM, a scant 200MB of disk space, and the Windows 7 operating system. My gaming desktop, a machine that boasts a 3.2-GHz Intel Core i5-4460 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080Ti GPU, ran Blazing Chrome at 60 frames per second without hiccups.
As a Steam game, Blazing Chrome supports the launcher’s many features, including Steam Cloud, Steam Leaderboards, and Remote Play Anywhere. In addition, Blazing Chrome has 39 Steam Achievements for trophy hunters.
Unfortunately, Blazing Chrome only supports local co-op play. That said, if you purchase the game from Steam, the launcher’s Remote Play Together functionality lets you blast robots with someone in your Friends List (and they don’t even need their own game copy). The one limitation here is that, if you don’t have a friend available, you cannot play with randoms.
The New Legend
Simply put, Blazing Chrome is a near-flawless title. It’s easy to pick up and play, delivers thrills and challenge, and is just incredibly fun. Developer JoyMash obviously has much love for the run-and-gun genre and the era in which it was birthed. If you enjoy classics like Metal Slug or Contra, Blazing Chrome needs to be in your Steam wishlist.
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Bottom Line: A throwback to classic 16-bit action titles, Blazing Chrome is a run-and-gun game that captures the co-op thrills and tough-as-nails gameplay found in Contra and Metal Slug.