The run-and-gun genre has been dormant for what feels like forever. Classic hits like Contra and Metal Slug gave the genre a name. The twitch-reaction gameplay and punishing enemies made these kinds of games unforgettably brutal, but today, they’ve been nearly forgotten. The talented team at Joymasher has decided that enough is enough, though, and they are taking the revival of the run-and-gun into their own hands with the release of Blazing Chrome.
Refreshingly and exhaustively difficult
A war-torn world, almost entirely devoid of life. Machines have risen up, fought back, and won. Blazing Chrome takes place in this dystopian future, where the few remaining resistance members have staged one final suicide mission in a desperate attempt to turn the tides once and for all. The fate of humanity lies in the hands of the badass human soldier Mavra, and the stylish robot-turned-ally Doyle.
Make no mistake, though — this is absolutely a suicide mission. Blazing Chrome is refreshingly and exhaustively difficult. If you’re familiar with the one-hit-kill nature of classic shooter platformers, you’ll be right at home here. Enemies are fast, ruthless, and constant. Even having played plenty of games like this in the past, I was on my toes from beginning to end with Blazing Chrome. None of my many, many deaths were cheap, though. Every time I lost, it was a fair lesson that rewarded my patience and determination.
Brutal difficulty balanced with fun
Thankfully, the brutal difficulty is balanced out by how downright fun the game is. Besides running and shooting in the direction you aim, you can also jump, go prone, and stand in place for precise bot blasting. Every action is instant and responsive, and I loved it. The game itself is just as responsive, with instant load times no matter what you’re doing. So many retro-inspired games get bogged down with sloppy or rigid controls, but Blazing Chrome manages to balance its retro inspirations with modern quality of life perfectly.
There’s no better example of that perfect balance of retro than the absolutely killer presentation of Blazing Chrome. The visuals of the game evoke old-school arcade gaming while still having a unique and memorable aesthetic. Everything is rendered in old-school 32-bit sprites, but even with that small amount of detail the game oozes personality in every asset.
Never unfair or cheap
The war-torn ruins of old buildings contrast with gorgeous natural sunsets and vivid, expansive sand dunes. Enemy creatures look gnarly and dangerous, and they all have a distinct look that instantly tells you what they do and how to fight them. Ninja robots and jetpack robots are obvious marks the second you see them slip onto the screen. The little details are the best, like enemy sprites being blown up when they’re closer to the screen. I can never get over how gross it is when an alien bug buzzes in from the front of the screen with its nasty low-fi hiss.
Bosses take it to an entirely different level. Every encounter at the middle and end of a stage is jaw-dropping and sweat-inducing. Massive spider monsters, laser-blasting robot drones, and more all overwhelmed me with their vivid designs and their insane difficulty. Every boss has a weakness, though, and I never felt like these encounters were unfair or cheap.
Short but sweet
If you do struggle with the challenge, though, Blazing Chrome gives you a couple tools to circumvent the difficulty. The first, co-op, is one of the bigger selling points of the game. A second player can hop in and join you in every stage and battle, and the extra firepower can be a huge boon if you and your teammate are well-coordinated. There’s also an easier difficulty option you can select that alleviates some of the tension.
Blazing Chrome is an incredible package, but unfortunately, it’s also an incredibly short one. Even a slow run will cap off at around three hours. From there, all you can do is replay the stages to chase score. There’s an unlockable difficulty, two secret characters, and a boss rush mode, though, which add a bit more content to play through after the credits roll.
Despite the short length, Blazing Chrome is an awesome experience that will bring you back to the golden age of 2D running and gunning. The sharp visuals, addictive gameplay and incredible level design had me grinning and sweating from beginning to end. If you’re itching for some side-scrolling action, Blazing Chrome is a must.
A review code was provided by the publisher.