Big robots, missiles and an alien invasion of Earth ... surely all the essential ingredients you need for a kick ass action game? Throw in a few epic explosions, a thumping soundtrack and some slick visuals and you're onto a winner right?
Well, yes - but leave the actual programming of the game to a bunch of chimps and what you end up with is something like Charge N Blast.
The premise of Charge N Blast is a simple one; you are placed in control of a robotic battle suit type arrangement and must wipe out an infestation of bug like creatures that have moved into the neighbourhood uninvited. However, if you are expecting some Mech Warrior-type free roaming action, you'll be sorely disappointed - you see, Charge N Blast plays more like a shoddy bastardisation of Space Invaders.
Viewed from a third person perspective, you control your chosen stereotypical warrior (from a choice of Johnny Rock - average; Nicholas Woods - strong but slow; or Pamela Hewitt - fast but weak) by means of the trigger buttons to strafe left and right along the base of the screen and use the analogue stick to focus the targeting reticule on any alien scum in your field of view. The X, Y and B buttons are all assigned to a different type of projectile (missile or grenade) in your arsenal and holding each button down 'charges' the corresponding weapon by means of a little power meter that appears. When it's full you must hit 'A' to launch and depending on the type of projectile used and the amount of aiming skill you've got, you can just fire and forget (heat seeking missile) or try to judge distances and trajectory like a 3D version of Death Tank. However, you are mistaken if what you have just read makes Charge N Blast sound like a good blast. It isn't. For instance, the amount of time it takes for your weapon to charge up to anything like an acceptable standard is ridiculous so you'll find that you are hit by lots of enemy fire more times than you'd like just because you are waiting for your gun to charge. And don't forget, you're simultaneously trying to dodge with the triggers. Clumsy just isn't the word to describe the controls. Of course, taking hits means loss of health and ultimately death - and lots of it.
Due to the fixed location nature of the game and the ability only left or right, Charge N Blast feels like something from the 1980s. Even the way you progress through the stages - i.e. kill everything on the screen to automatically move forward to the next section, ad nauseum - is archaic.
Eventually, you come up against a boss character but if you're anything like me you no doubt have lost interest long before you even reach mid way point of the game (and that won't take long considering the relative shortness of Charge N Blast). The reason for this? The repetitive and downright boringness of it all. It's just wave after wave of bugs with a few variations in their design thrown into the mix now and then. Of course, the scenery changes too, but it's just one drab vista after another - city, desert, mountains etc.
The graphics are actually pretty good and everything is reasonably crisp. There are some nice explosion effects and in places the scenery is affected by stray missiles leading to collapsing buildings and the like. The sound on the other hand is pretty weak and the robotic voices will really get on your nerves after a few minutes of playing.
Maybe I've been a little harsh on Charge N Blast, but only because I was expecting more from it: something like Expendable, but with cool robots and more pyrotechnics. In reality Charge N Blast is, as mentioned, just a boring rip off of Space Invaders with an added dimension; and as such is very hard to recommend to anyone but the most hardcore of old school shoot 'em up fans.