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Blazing Chrome is the lovechild of Contra and Metal Slug; an apologetically retro run’n’gunner, oozing with an 80s arcade aesthetic. The game’s impeccable presentation and authentic retro feel make it ideal nostalgia fuel, yet this love letter to the old school seems built for a certain breed, and regrettably is altogether too gruelling for a 90s kid like me.
With all manner of sinister machines and alien freaks terrorizing the war-ravaged earth, you are mankind’s last hope. Gameplay is simple and will be familiar for anyone accustom with the games that Blazing Chrome so fondly emulates. This focus on pure action keeps you constantly in the heart of combat as you gun your way through the game’s six levels, playing as either Marva, a human resistance solider, or Doyle, a robot insurgent, whether solo or in co-op.
After selecting my difficulty (normal) and character (Doyle), I loaded up Blazing Chrome’s first level, rated its easiest, ready for a light bit of arcadey fun. With five lives and a big ol’ machine gun I felt confident. Running forward, blasting wildly, pink mohawk blowing in the breeze, I mowed down the first half a dozen robots, only to abruptly meet my death from a single enemy strike. Swiftly respawning, I pressed on, inching out progress between deaths until I got a game over.
Despite the difficulty, I soon felt like I had found my flow, taking down a few mid-stage mini bosses and donning a mech suit to up my firepower as I tore through waves of mechanical monstrosities. Reaching the stage’s final boss took some perseverance, and when I finally felled the towering robotic skeleton, having learnt his attack patterns and focused my reflexes, the screen exploded in a gratifying, likely seizure-inducing, barrage of light and sound.
Moving on to successive levels, the challenge only seemed to ramp up, and, tired of dying, I bumped the difficulty down to easy. I seemed to consistently reach the same point in a thrilling hoverbike-based level, but again, even on easy, I hit a wall. Blazing Chrome’s modest number of levels pack a lot in. Mini-bosses punctuate the torrent of grunts and level design is nicely varied, regularly offering new twists on gameplay. Whether piloting hoverbikes and mechs or calculating each movement as you traverse treacherous levels filled with quicksand and collapsing walkways, gameplay consistently feels fresh whilst maintaining that arcadey familiarity.
Determined to not be bested, I jumped into co-op with my girlfriend Hope. Working together we managed to grind our way through to the final boss run of a level, but each and every time we would face the boss with only a few lives remaining. Should one of us get a game over, the other would have to dance around frantically until the cooldown allowed them to respawn. Inconsistent checkpointing also adds to the difficulty, making our exhaustive efforts all the more frustrating. Eventually, after countless deaths and several outbursts of rather creative profanity, we gave up.
Blazing Chrome is as authentic to a Contra or Metal Slug as you’re going get, beyond the real thing. Its gorgeous pixel art, thumping 80s synth score and arcadey gameplay make it feel thoroughly authentic, and for those seeking it, I am certain this game will fulfil that nostalgic need. But, alas, for me, Blazing Chrome will remain a game I appreciate from afar, its lovely pixel art perhaps occasionally drawing back in, only for its punishing difficulty to once more ward me away.
Blazing Chrome PS4 Review
Overall – Very Good – 7.5/10
Blazing Chrome is a love letter to classic run’n’gunners like Contra and Metal Slug, complete with a gorgeous pixel art style and a thumping chip-tune soundtrack. With varied level design and couch co-op, there is plenty to love about this high-octane nostalgia trip, but for me its punishing difficulty was just too much.
- Gorgeous pixel art and chip-tune soundtrack make it feel authentically retro.
- Varied level design and plenty of bosses.
- Couch co-op.
- Too damn hard for me, even on the easiest difficulty.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.
Max is a lover of games, fine whisky and dogs with soft faces. Often seeking out games Chris dubs “artsy sh*t”, some say Max has a refined taste, while others simply consider him pretentious. Wherever you stand on the matter, he undeniably writes words. His other hobbies including leading a cult, touching dog’s faces and telling everyone he is vegan.