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Game Info:

Blasting Agent: Ultimate Edition
Developed by: Axol Studio
Published by: Ratalaika Games
Release date: August 18, 2016 (3DS)
Available on: 3DS, Wii U, Windows
Genre: Run and Gun, Platformer
Number of Players: Single-Player
ESRB Rating: E10+ for Everyone 10 and Up (Fantasy Violence)
Price: $2.99

Thank you Ratalaika Games for sending us the game to review!

The Black Hand of Fate, a terrorist organization, has constructed a secret base in a volcano in Antarctica and it's up to the Blasting Agent to put their plans to a stop. This is the story of Blasting Agent, and it's just as simple as its gameplay, which is a good thing.

Blasting Agent is a well known game currently available on Kongregate, a site dedicated to smaller budget games. It was originally released in 2009, and was praised by many players. It has been generally updated to smooth and refine the graphics, as well as having new levels and new bosses added in to create the Ultimate Edition. The developers claim that this is the definitive version to play, and it's hard to argue with that.

Blasting Agent: Ultimate Edition
Highlights:

Strong Points: Excellent level designs; The soundtrack is phenomenal; Crisp graphics and smooth animations.
Weak Points: A little on the short side; No 3D.
Moral Warnings: As this is an 8-bit shooting game, there's a minor amount of violence.

Spread across six expansive levels, players guide the agent across multiple rooms eliminating the various robotic enemies that appear. They can either be shot or jumped on as means of dispatching them. Each level is broken up into separate "rooms" and in each room there are certain amounts of enemies to be defeated and gold to be collected. On easy mode, getting a 90% in both categories for a stage will unlock a power-up. Some power-ups include a dash for movement and the ability to double jump. At the end of each stage is a boss that must be defeated. They all have awesome designs, and no two bosses fight the same, which is a huge plus. Completing the game unlocks hard mode and it lives up to its name. Enemies have more health and deal more damage. The reward for getting 100% in the gold amount and enemy kills unlocks a costume for the agent. The costumes are merely cosmetic, but they each look awesome so I couldn't complain.

Scattered throughout the levels players can find four different upgrades. Blue upgrades increase speed and range of the bullets, green increases damage, and red adds a spread functionality to the gun. There is also a health upgrade that will increase the agent's heart count by one. All of these are needed as the enemies and bosses become bullet sponges halfway through the game. Every door in the game acts as a checkpoint, and when you are killed you respawn with full health at the last door you entered. This can be utilized effectively to restore health after a difficult room simply by taking damage until the agent dies and respawning. The amounts of enemies eliminated and gold collected are saved at each door, so there's no need to worry about redoing anything if you use the doors this way. 

Something worth mentioning is if you hold down the 'A' button to continuously shoot, you'll keep firing in the same direction, even if you change directions. To shoot in a different direction just release the 'A' button and you are free to move once more. This takes some time to get used to, but for the most part it's a great feature that should be utilized more in run and gun games.

Blasting Agent: Ultimate Edition
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 84%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 95%
Violence - 7.5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Graphically, the 8-bit style works perfectly on a handheld. Sprites are bright and colorful, and levels feel intricately designed without ever feeling too large. Bosses are large and take on an almost 16-bit appearance. They are much smoother looking than anything else in the game and they definitely stand out because of it. At the end of level three the agent is chased down by a giant robot, but unfortunately there's no music playing during the boss fight. This was the only case of a letdown in the game that I found.

In the audio department, this has one of my favorite soundtracks for a 3DS title. Each song is unique and memorable. In a way, it reminded me of Cave Story. Not particularly in how the music sounds, but that each area has a new song that plays, and they all fit the environments perfectly. This is a soundtrack I may consider purchasing, it's that good. Sound effects are loud and crisp and do a great job exemplifying the action. Ambient sounds like wind blowing across the frozen surface of Antarctica in the first level really instills a sense of being completely alone. 

As far as appropriateness goes this game is pretty harmless. Since every enemy is a robot there's really no need to be concerned about the violence. At the end of the day there aren't many things to complain about with Blasting Agent, aside from the overall short length of the game. Combining the right amount of difficulty, amazing music, and a visual style all its own, I highly recommend it. $2.99 is a steal for a game of this quality. The passion the developers poured into it can be seen and heard the moment you walk through that first door in level one.

-Kyuremu

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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