It’s a Champagne super-nova in the sky!
Imagic’s Nova Blast really took me by surprise when I first encountered it! Initial impressions suggest that it’s nothing more than just a rip-off of the classic Williams arcade game Defender – when in reality it’s so much more than that, and actually combines elements of Atari’s Missile Command, along with a few features of its own, to create a winning formula. It’s actually pretty amazing that a game of this quality has managed to stay under the radar for so long. It’s certainly not one that you hear everyone screaming and shouting about.
Red Alert! The four capsuled cities of the water planet Hydron are under fierce enemy attack! You must pilot Nova 1 – the last of the Novon fleet – over the turbulent seas. Blast Orion Fighters, Gravitines and six other types of airborne aliens before they obliterate the cities or damage your ship. Well that’s the cheesy plot out the way. “Nothing new there” I hear you cry, but bear with me. Like Defender, Nova Blast is played out like a horizontally scrolling shoot ‘em up – with your ship being able to fly in both directions. You are also equipped with a laser weapon as well as bombs, but unlike Eugene Jarvis’ game these bombs are dropped from the bottom of your craft; more akin to Konami’s Scramble. This is so you can take out the flying aliens in the sky as well as the ships and submarines in the water below. Another feature they borrowed from Defender is the scanner at the top of the screen that shows you where the enemies are.
Next we have the elements from Atari’s Missile Command, which are far subtler in nature. In fact they probably owe more to Imagic’s own clone of Dave Theurer’s classic – Atlantis. In the ocean below are the four cities that were mentioned in the plot, each one covered in a bubble. You must protect these cities from the invading aliens at all costs. If all the cities get destroyed then it’s game over and you failed your mission. Your ship has an energy bar that depletes every time you are hit, and once this is gone then it’s also the end of the game. But, in one of the more unique features of Nova Blast: there are hydro power stations in the water that can be used to recharge. You simply hover above them and hold down the fire button and it will restore a portion of your energy. While you are doing this though, it leaves you wide open to attack, adding a nice risk and reward element to the game on top of all the other action.
Nova Blast looks absolutely gorgeous – there is no doubting that it’s one of the best looking games on the ColecoVision. The well designed backdrops really set the scene and the clearly defined sprites don’t get lost amongst the detail. Even more impressively: it has super smooth parallax scrolling, something you definitely don’t see too often on this machine. Imagic also did a more than adequate job with the arcade-like sound effects. When you also factor in the nice little touches like the mission names and presentation screens, it all adds up to make an absorbing and challenging shooter. Nova Blast ranks up there with the very best game available for the ColecoVision and you will be playing it for a very long time to come.
Final Verdict 4.5/5
Available on: ColecoVision (reviewed), Commodore 64, Intellivision; Publisher: Imagic ; Developer: Imagic ; Players: 1 ; Released: 1983 ; ESRB: N/A; MSRP: N/A