Blazing Rangers, new NES and Famicom games from Guardian of Gotta Creator Karu_gamo, is here! we previewed game in 2021, but now we’ve been able to spend some time on the final version.
In Blazing Rangers, you control either fireman. Popo, boy, can carry a little more. Mimi, girl, a little faster. Both firefighting and saving lives, use hoses for better access to water.
The game is intentionally reminiscent of early NES versions. It was made with the most limited size and capabilities, a challenge that Karu_gamo thought would be fun. The stages are single screens with a black background. There are a small number of sprites. This focal point defines the game! Unlike a lot of new “retro” games, this feels like it could have been made with both technology and game ideas in mind at the time. It’s perfect with Lolo, Peach Dug and Bobble Bubbles.
Like so many early NES games? Blazing Rangers difficult! It’s simple to get through the early levels, but as the game progresses, the difficulty increases rapidly. And that’s just the “A” game. Choosing the “B” option pushes things up dramatically! It adjusts the timer much shorter and requires rescue to extend the time. The key is to let go of the idea that you’re actually going to put out the fire, just creating enough space to jump in and out and save people.
If there’s something in the game that feels a bit modern, it’s the impressive detail of the target. You can point the faucet in a variety of directions, and a lot of the game’s challenges are built around this. Shooting slightly around corners or tracking the movement of enemies in the distance can really help. Adding to the strategy is hose management. It’s only that long, and if you get out of its reach, you can only shoot a limited amount of water. Planning your path to the most productive is key! Make sure it’s a smart exit, though, because you really need to follow the return path of the fire hose to make sure you can find a way out.
While Blazing Rangers Mostly a solo project, Karu_gamo received some help from chiptune composer Raised. While Karu_gamo’s previous projects with Ancient featured top notch soundtracks by Yuzo Koshiro and friends, Raised bravely took the baton here and delivered some rockin’ tunes. And a charm of a physical release like this? They can be heard as original and faithfully rendered using the original hardware.
Physical versions of Blazing Rangers offers a lot of decorations that add to the cozy nostalgia. Our review is based on the Famicom version, complete with Japanese manuals and old-fashioned box. The manual includes hand-drawn monsters and items, with little description. What is good! Because for those of us of a certain age, this is how we learn the lore of our games. There’s even a short manga and an interview with Karu_gamo in it. (Although if you are looking for an interview we can recommend ours?) In many ways, it’s just as enjoyable as an item on a shelf as it is in the cartridge slot.
Like most NES games these days, Blazing Rangers not for everyone. Since it is built on the nostalgia and conventions of the times, it needs a connection with time to really land. But what if you were that person? Having a nail-biting challenge with all the classic hardware limitations is a tempting proposition. (And hey, you can also enjoy great chiptunes.)
Blazing Rangers now available for NES and Famicom via First Press Games’ website.