blastcorps1.jpg['Bastards of 32-Bit' is a weekly column by Danny Cowan that focuses on overlooked, underrated, and inexplicable titles from the era of the PlayStation, Saturn, and Nintendo 64. This week's column covers Blast Corps for the Nintendo 64, published by Nintendo and released in the United States in February 1997.]

Time to get moving!

Rare was once a force to be reckoned with in the games industry. The company was responsible for numerous quality titles during its heyday, but somewhere along the line, Rare seemed to forget how to make fun games. Many of Rare's more recent titles have been criticized for their focus on pointless widget-collecting, and the surplus number of used copies of Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero available at many retailers offer some indication of Rare's failure to capture the modern gaming market.

It wasn't always like this, though. Many gamers have fond memories of playing Rare's Donkey Kong Country series, and GoldenEye was considered one of the best console first-person shooters of its time. During this era, Rare also released Blast Corps, a title that had all the hallmarks of a classic, but was largely overlooked.

blastcorps2.jpgShow us what you got!

The objective of Blast Corps is to destroy buildings. That's pretty much it. Games have been based around this concept before -- Rampage comes to mind, for one -- but Blast Corps manages to add enough variety to the destruction-based gameplay mechanic to make it never boring or repetitive. There's some reason or another behind all the violence -- some story about a runaway nuclear-equipped vehicle that will explode if it collides with anything in its path -- but the almost complete lack of cutscenes makes it easy to concentrate on blowing stuff up.

The game's objectives aren't as mindless as they sound, though. In the process of clearing a path for the nuclear tanker, you'll often have to find creative ways to destroy the obstacles in your way. The game provides you with a number of vehicles in every stage, each with its own special abilities -- the bulldozer is best suited for the quick leveling of small buildings, for instance, but some situations may call for a missile-launching motorcycle, or the speed of a racecar.

In many cases, Blast Corps more closely resembles a puzzle game than anything else, as the game often requires the use of several vehicles in sequence, in order to overcome environment-based obstacles on the way to a demolition site. These elements of planning and strategy make the act of demolition more satisfying than it would be otherwise.

It's like Pilotwings, only completely different.You can DO this.

Blast Corps also contains a number of side missions in addition to the main levels, most of which are time trials that test one's ability to use specific vehicles effectively. There's an impressive amount of optional goals and unlockables in the game, as most stages can be replayed for the sake of finding hidden items, or to raze an entire city's worth of buildings following an initial run-through. You'll be playing for weeks if you want to achieve the game's highest rank of "You can stop now."

Blast Corps adds a degree of depth to a simplistic formula, and the result is an engaging title that can be as mindless or as complex an experience as you want to make it. Plus, if nothing else, the game lets you control a giant flying robot who crushes buildings with its butt. How is that not awesome?

[Danny Cowan is a freelance writer hailing from Austin, Texas. He has contributed feature articles to Lost Levels Online and 1up.com, and his writing appears monthly in Hardcore Gamer Magazine.]