On Kero Blaster
I downloaded Kero Blaster on iOS a few days ago and I absolutely love it. If you would have said I’d compare a action platformer on iOS to my favorite NES game of all time, I would have called you insane. But now I’ve played through the entire game 3 times and have a feeling that it will one day surpass Megaman as my most re-played game ever (about 100 replays).
It’s kind of insane when you experience a game and it feels like it was made JUST for you. Two of my favorite games of all time are Megaman and Super Metroid. I love the super tight and ultra precise platforming and combat of Megaman and I love exploring the world of Super Metroid. While Kero Blaster is much more like Megaman than it is anything Metroid, it does give a nice little touch of it feeling like a world rather than a bunch of random themed levels of your typical Megaman game. It’s a world with characters, coherence, and constant surprise.
But to me, the world of Kero Blaster is just the icing on the cake. The core of the experience, like many great games, is captured in both the simplicity and depth of gameplay. At it’s most fundamental core is an absurdly nuanced and precise movement scheme. You have the full analog range of jump heights combined with a distinct weakness of air control, which leads to a much more planned an executed movement than your typical reactive action shooter. Layered on top of it is the 4 state directional auto-fire system, which pushes even more focus onto the planned and executed movement core. Layered on top of these are various weapons with various upgrades and a massive array of diverse, well-progressed, and interestingly set up enemies. And of course to top it all off, there are a number of incredible boss fights to that perfectly match the players in game and in brain skill.
But the thing that makes me love Kero Blaster so much is the thing that makes me love any game–the ability for mastery. When you start playing Kero Blaster, it’s just a simple little action platforming game (more action than platforming). As you play through more and more, obviously it gets harder and harder. But the curve of the progression is so perfect, that you never notice yourself getting better. And with the upgrading of your weapons and health, you definitely don’t know whether to attribute your handling of these new, more difficult situations to your in game upgrades or your own personal skill. Then you finish the game and start a new playthrough and you are a GOD.
The things that felt challenging once are a piece of cake and the patterns that you barely stumbled your way through the first time you perform like a dance. It’s at this point that it not only feels like the creation of this game is a piece of art, but that your playing of it is a matter of art as well. The game is your instrument and you continue to get better and better and produce more and more beautiful music. And while you can always look at your boss fight time attack for a numerical encapsulation of your skill, the much more important aspect of each performance is the feeling of overwhelming power on each turn, each double jump, and each perfectly choreographed dance around a stage of enemies and projectiles.
Kero Blaster is not just a masterpiece to experience and appreciate, it is a beautiful instrument to play and master.
While this is a bit of a footnote, an important aspect of this feeling of power and mastery is the short length of the game. You don’t see the contrast until you’ve started your second playthrough. And unlike many other games, you don’t face an instant decision between playing a bit more and 20 hours of your life. So, instead of having to skim read the game, you are given the opportunity to play and replay and replay and replay. You get the opportunity to properly appreciate the depth of the creation and hone your performance. And in total, I’m sure I will sink more time into this game than many which have more hours of gameplay, but the quality and depth of my experience will be at a fundamentally different level.
And if you want to pick up Kero Blaster, you can get it here: