Get ready for a neon-injected dose of ’90s nostalgia—Blasters of the Universe hits Rift on the Oculus Store today!
“Blasters is definitely an action/arcade game first, but we’ve also layered in some narrative to give players comic relief and a better sense of motivation as they progress through the campaign,” says Lead Game Designer Mike Sandercock.
That story opens on a tragic villain, Grand Master Alwyn. “He’s that guy we all remember from back in the arcade, a little bit older, with a big chip on his shoulder—always ripping on the people he beat,” explains Sandercock. “He finds a way to upload himself into VR back in the 1990s, during the first wave of VR enthusiasm, and gets ready for battle. Unfortunately, as we know, VR wasn’t quite ready back then, so he had to wait. Now that VR is back and ready for prime time, you’ve got to help take VR back from him. Alwyn wants you to lose, but really, after so much time alone in there, he’s excited just to get to play with people again and have a challenge.”
True to the bullet hell genre, you’re in for a challenge as well. From a giant, sword-wielding melee boss to a teleporting, heat-seeking rocket boss, you’ll need to adjust your play style to defeat each opponent on your way to the final boss battle against Grand Master Alwyn himself.
Beyond the eponymous influence of He-Man and Skeletor’s Masters of the Universe, the latest VR offering from Secret Location pulls camp and comedic influence from The Transformers and The Venture Bros. (specifically, the Monarch), plus visual inspiration from the original Tron, The Lawnmower Man, and Johnny Mnemonic. “We wanted Blasters of the Universe to have a bit of a Saturday morning cartoon vibe—especially around Alwyn,” Sandercock notes.
Although the game’s been in early access for about a year, the final product has grown and evolved as Secret Location incorporated direct feedback to refine the overall look and feel. “We focused heavily on our bullet hell gameplay and how to push that genre in first-person,” says Sandercock. “Many of our favorite features came from our community, so we owe them a huge amount of gratitude for their support.”
Blasters has already been widely shown, from a large number of local meetups in Toronto to E3, VRLA, and the Indie Megabooth at PAX West and East. For many early players, this is their first experience with VR—and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. “Seeing people really get into it—jumping and rolling on the ground, screaming and yelling with delight and excitement—has all been fantastic,” Sandercock adds. “A lot of people talk to themselves when they play the game; they give themselves a pep talk, which is always fun to witness.”
The action is intense, though Alwyn’s one-liners help to keep the mood light. And if you find yourself bobbing your head along to the music, that’s entirely by design, too.
“Any good arcade game has a great underlying sound that keeps up with the pace of the game and gets players pumped up while they play,” Sandercock explains. “When a boss fight hits, we blast our most intense soundtracks to get players ready.”
PAX West attendees can get hands-on with the game this weekend—and should be on the lookout for some pretty sweet swag, including limited edition collector cards and a rotating series of pins.
Looking ahead, Secret Location’s staying fairly mum on details, but there’s some exciting stuff on the horizon.
“Nothing has been formally announced yet, but we’re working on a time-manipulation physics puzzler that we’re all really excited about,” teases Sandercock. “We’re also doing some more narrative-focused projects involving Stephen King and Philip K. Dick properties—hopefully we can share more of those details soon.”
We’ll keep our fingers crossed for future reveals. In the meantime, customize your loadout as you duck and dodge for survival in Blasters of the Universe—available now on Rift!
— The Oculus Team