Nitrome’s Blast RPG comes from the tradition of Web time-waster where you fire something (in this case, a medieval knight) out of a cannon, after adjusting the angle and velocity of said cannon, with the goal of seeing how far it can travel before it skids to a stop. If Blast RPG were typical, things would end there. You would launch the knight again and again trying to get him further each time until you eventually got bored. But Blast RPG isn’t typical: it’s part role-playing game too! And the knight doesn’t just sail passively through the air, he battles foes, grabs coins, uses items, and even levels up.
With Blast RPG, the fun is just getting started after the knight achieves lift-off. His path is littered with monsters, and if he happens to touch one they’ll skirmish, trading blows until someone’s life meter is fully drained. If the knight wins, he gets a boost of speed and power that sends him sailing farther along the path. If his life bar reaches zero, he forfeits some of his hard-earned coins and you have to try again.
There’s a distance goal to be reached, too. Even if you don’t reach it right away (and you won’t; it starts at an ambitious 1500m and increases rather steeply from there with each subsequent level), there’s plenty to do in the meantime. The knight gains experience points (XP) each time he defeats an enemy and will eventually level up, letting you distribute points to improve typical RPG stats like Strength, Defense and Agility, all of which help him travel farther.
In between attempts you can also hit the shop to purchase items and power-ups that can be deployed at any time during the Knight’s flight, from rocket boosts to healing items and petrify spells. The most satisfying of these items are weapon enhancements that give you the power of water, fire or plants – elements that correspond to different colored monsters. You can switch between these weapons in mid-flight, so if the knight engages a fire (red) monster, for example, switching to the water weapon makes his hits especially effective.
The role-playing touches in Blast RPG turn it from being a potentially mindless time-waster into something that engages the player through the knight’s entire run, from beginning to end. Sure, you could just take your chances and hope the bounces go your way, but it’s much more satisfying to be able to influence the flight by deploying power-ups at the right time, and steering the knight with the mouse (something you can do more and more as your Agility stat increases).
Unfortunately the game suffers from some slow-down if there’s a lot going on at the screen at one time, but that’s the only major complaint. At only six levels, we naturally wish the game were longer too. Sometimes Flash games are perfect in bite-sized morsels, but Blast RPG is one concept that could have been taken much farther, in this reviewer’s humble opinion.