The year is 2085 and the Robotrons have destroyed the human race!

Blaster was the 1983 followup to the wildly popular title Williams title Robotron 2084. Although the only things that the two games have in common are the design team, and their use of the Robotron world. Blaster was a very early example of a 3-D raster game, but it did not do real polygon 3-D, instead it had literally thousands of hand generates images that simulated 3-D with the help of expensive "sprite zooming" hardware. The high production cost of this game (combined with the fact that it was released in the middle of the arcade crash of '83), led to it having a very short production run, when compared to other Williams games.

This title was originally known as "Master Blaster" but the name was changed because of an Apple pinball program called "Bill Budges Raster Blaster". A few years later another company (SunSoft) would release a game called "Blaster Master", which was wildly successful. "Master Blaster" was also the name of a pair of characters in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome as well. I think Williams could have probably stuck with their original name without any problems.

Your mission? Save the World!

You control your spaceship against wave after wave of enemy fighters, while trying to save the stranded astronauts that represent the last remaining humans. You enemies attack you both with weapons, and by making suicide runs at your ship (is anyone ever going to make a space game where enemy space ships don't try to crash into you?).

There are twenty different levels to this game (there were originally supposed to be thirty, but the last ten were cut for budget reasons). There are a total of 11 different kinds of levels (out of the twenty total). They are Planetoid Waves, Robot Grid Waves, Saucerland Waves, Vampire Waves, Time Tunnel Waves, Outer Space Waves, Enduro Waves, Cat World Waves, and Mastermind Waves (there are two of each of these). There are also 2 unique waves that occur only once, they are Armageddon and Paradise. You can select your starting wave when you begin your game (choose from Planetoids, Robot Grid, Saucerland, and Vampires).

Once the game begins, start blasting or dodging everything in sight, except for the astronauts, which you are supposed to save by running into them. You can be hit three times before you die, you actually have an energy meter, but you always die in three hits, no matter what the three hits are. When you die, the window of your cockpit breaks, and you move onto your next life. This is a difficult game, but thankfully you can continue by inserting another quarter, but only on your first time through. The continue option is gone once you begin your second time through the game.

Your enemies always appear in groups, and you get extra points for taking out an entire group, so it is best to shoot at everything. There is also another bonus available in most waves, that is a 100,000 point bonus for killing all the enemies in the level (which is also the same amount of points required for a free man). Your only break from the action comes in the form of the two "Time Tunnel" levels, which have no enemies at all, only astronauts waiting to be saved (in a marathon game, this is your chance to run to the bathroom for a quick pee).

The hardest level is "Armageddon" where you will be attacked by every enemy type in the game (other levels only have a few different enemies). After this level you move onto the "Paradise" level, which doesn't have any enemies or astronauts, you just get to fly around and watch a show (this is your other chance to take a bathroom break). After "Paradise" the game gives you a million extra points, three extra lives (instead of the 10 lives that a million points should have given you), and starts you over at level 10. Remember, there is no continuing after this point. One should expect as much from a machine

Blaster was available in four different versions, 3 dedicated cabinets and a conversion kit.

The most common version was in a normal upright cabinet, similar in design to the one Stargate used, most of these have been converted over the years, and they are hard to find today.

The rarest version is the cockpit version. There were only three of them made. Two of them are accounted for, the other one seems to have vanished. Don't get your hopes up about finding the lost one, as it hasn't been seen since 1983, and was probably destroyed long ago.

The conversion kit version was fairly common, it included to hardware to install Blaster into most pre-existing arcade cabinets, This is a good one to try and piece together, because you don't have to try and locate one of the few remaining Blaster machines to install your parts into. But annoyingly, it used a different set of boards that were not compatible with the other versions.

Now for the coolest one. The famous "DuraMold" cabinet. The DuraMold was a large circular arcade cabinet made completely out of thick plastic. These things were very attractive, and almost impossible to damage. But they were expensive, and had a fatal design flaw. They shrank slightly in the first few months after they were made. In some cases the shrinking machine would eject its monitor, and send it flying across the room. Williams quickly developed a fix for this, but no one wanted DuraMolds after hearing about them shooting monitors across arcades, and impaling them on other machines. Don't worry about that happening anymore, if it was going to happen to your DuraMold cabinet, then it would have happened a long time ago (if you are still worried, then remount your monitor behind the little monitor tunnel, you only need to move it back about half an inch). The DuraMold Blaster was all black and had yellow graphics on the control panel and marquee.

All Blaster machines used a 49-Way optical joystick that had two buttons mounted on it. This stick is out of production, but you can make a good copy using parts from a standard 49-Way and a two button flight stick.

Stop blabbering, and tell me where I can play!

Your options in playing Blaster are very limited. It was never properly ported to any other system. But luckily it is supported rather well by MAME, you will need an analog flight stick in order to play it correctly that way.

You may want to add this to your arcade game collection, and all I can tell you is "good luck". This is not a common title, and they are expensive whenever they do show up. It is not unheard of for a DuraMold version to go for $1600 or more, while the cockpit version has been valued at over $10,000. The normal uprights and conversion kit ones are a bit cheaper, but even they go for around $1000. Of course your prices may vary, mine are based on research done in March of 2002.