Two defective nuclear missiles are being moved to a safe location for a controlled detonation. The missiles begin to leak and the carrier vehicle transporting the missiles is automatically set onto a direct course to the detonation site. As the course takes it through many built-up areas, there are many obstacles on the way, and a single jolt could be enough to detonate the missiles and trigger a nuclear winter. The Blast Corps demolition company is given the task of clearing a safe route for the carrier and its missiles.
The game starts on a world map with only one accessible Carrier level (read below). Beating this level opens the "Easy" set of Carrier levels. When these are beaten, the next set of Carrier levels is opened. Bonus levels are earned by finding and activating communication devices hidden in some levels. And so, the game expands from a single Carrier level to many different levels of two types (Carrier and Bonus).
Each level is initially marked with a shadow, but this can be filled with a medal by fulfilling the secondary requirements of a Carrier mission (by destroying buildings, freeing survivors, and collecting RDUs), or by getting a good enough time in a Bonus mission. Each level is also circled in a green or red outline. A green outline means that there is at least one comm. device in the level that has not been found, whereas a red outline means that all of the satellites in the level have been found.
The first objective in the game is to clear all of the Carrier levels, but many more tasks await afterwards.
The Carrier Levels form the focus of the game. Here, the missile carrier has a set route, which takes it through a series of obstacles, usually including a number of buildings. The player starts in a demolition vehicle, such as a bulldozer called the Ramdozer, but may find other vehicles in the level. The main focus on such levels is action, as the player must destroy buildings in the path of the carrier, before it crashes into them, but some obstacles require the solving of puzzles. Some of these obstacles require the use of TNT blocks that can be pushed into the object to destroy it, whilst sometimes holes must be filled in with blocks, or a route across water or over train loading ramps must be bridged. There are even some courses where the player is required to push TNT boxes on to a crane, then use the crane move the explosives towards a target building. Clearing the path of the missile carrier earns the player a gold medal.
Once the route is clear for the carrier, there is are still tasks for the player to complete. On each level there are secrets to find. To fully complete a Carrier level, and earn a second gold medal, all buildings must be destroyed, which will also free anyone trapped inside. In addition, a number of Radiation Dispersal Units, (or RDUs), which are activated by proximity to the player, are placed around the level. Some of these are placed to guide the player around the level. Once the carrier's path is clear, a player can return to a level, with no time limit, to complete objectives and find secrets. 100% completion of the tasks results in a gold medal, meaning that the player can get a total of two golds in each Carrier Level.
Time Trial Levels
The bonus levels mostly involve a race of some sort. Some of them are straight races, where the player must complete a course of four laps in the fastest time possible. In others, the player must demolish a certain number of buildings, or activate all RDUs. In some of these bonus levels, there are enemies or obstacles, such as water or lava, which, when touched, will cause the mission to fail.
Practice levels are time trial levels that introduce some of the more unusual demolition vehicles. These give some instruction in operating the particular vehicle, and sometimes have arrows to guide the player. These levels function in a similar way to a normal demolition style Bonus levels.
Before each race level, the player can choose the vehicle they will use. Here, vehicles are only available if they have been found and driven on one of the Carrier levels. Some race levels restrict the choice of vehicle.
Finishing Bonus Levels will result in a Bronze, Silver, or Gold medal, depending on the finish time.
Other Time Trial levels include clearing a path for a space shuttle to land, which unlocks a demolition Time Trial level, set on the Moon. This, along with later levels set on Mercury, Venus, Mars and Neptune, have lower gravity than normal (although the real Neptune has higher gravity, and the real Venus has gravity almost equal to Earth). Here, as with the Bonus levels, a single medal can be won on each level.
Eventually, after the Carrier Levels have been fully completed and other tasks have been completed, they become Time Trial levels. The task is again to clear a path for the carrier, but the player only has to destroy all buildings in the path of the carrier; bridging gaps is not required (though the player will fail if the carrier hits one before all buildings are destroyed). This must be done within a time limit. Bronze, silver and gold medals are awarded according to the time taken. Once all of the carrier levels are completed in gold medal time, Platinum medals become available for all levels. The required times for the platinum medals are often very unforgiving, sometimes leaving little margin for error.
There are a number of Demolition vehicles in the game. Each has a different method of demolition, from the Ramdozer, which is just a simple bulldozer, to the J-Bomb, a robot that flies up to stomp on buildings.
The Ramdozer is a fairly ordinary bulldozer, destroying the smaller buildings and obstacles by driving straight into them, but with little or no effect on the larger ones. However, its scoop can push TNT blocks easily, which allows it to destroy some of the larger buildings.
Probably the least popular vehicle in the fan community, the Backlash is a fairly slow-moving dump truck. It can ram obstacles, with some effect, but it is much more effective to go into a skid, and swing the armored back end of the vehicle into the chosen obstacle. Alternatively, using terrain as a ramp to get the truck airborne allows it to crash through buildings with ease. As with the Ramdozer, this is only effective against relatively small obstacles. The Backlash can be very difficult to use, especially when pressed for time by the impending missile truck, thus earning its unpopular status.
The Skyfall is a small and fast dune buggy, with a booster, which has a very limited fuel supply that regenerates when not in use. Its main method of destruction is to use the booster to travel at high speed up a ramp, and land on obstacles. Landing on top of the obstacles is the only way to destroy them.
The Thunderfist is a very large human-operated robot that is ideal for destroying large buildings, such as tower blocks, by running at them, then tumbling into the side, sometimes swinging the arm like a boxer's uppercut as it collides into the building. The machine appears to be missing an arm, circuits and wires poke out of a shoulder and spark occasionally. This does not hinder the Thunderfist in any way. It is stated in Games Korner's Rare Replay - The Making of Blast Corps That the missing arm is the result of simply running out of polygons during the games development.
The Cyclone Suit is a robotic powered exoskeleton, only somewhat larger than the player's character, which can destroy medium sized buildings, this time by somersaulting into them.
The J-Bomb is the third of the robotic demolition vehicles, and slightly smaller than the Thunderfist. It has a jet-pack, which is used to fly above a target building. The J-Bomb can then descend rapidly to crush the building (This strongly resembles the 'ground pound' move from many platform games, such as Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island and Super Mario 64). The jet-pack also allows the J-Bomb to reach areas not accessible to other vehicles.
The Ballista is a motorcycle that destroys obstacles by firing missiles at them. The missiles are in limited supply, and are collected from ammunition boxes found on the relevant levels.
The Sideswipe is an articulated vehicle that destroys its targets by using extending rams on the left and right sides of its rear section. This can be done a limited number of times, and 'ammunition' can be collected on the relevant levels, in a similar way to the missiles for the Ballista.
A number of other vehicles are also available, primarily used for the race levels, consisting of the Police Car, the American Dream (a patriotic hot rod with a horn inspired by the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard, though painted as an American flag), the Muscle Car (modelled after the Grand Torino from Starsky and Hutch), and the Van (a duplicate of the van from The A-Team). Each vehicle differs in handling, speed and acceleration, making some more ideal for certain levels than others. The Muscle Car has the unique ability of being able to drive off-road and underwater without slowing down. Certain levels also contain a Train or Barges which run on a fixed track, and are used primarily for transportation, as well as a fixed-position Crane that can move things via its hoisted platform. There are finally two commonly found vehicles of much less functionality. The Blast Corps Chopper is controlled only on the stage select screen, and at the beginning of carrier levels, flies the player character over the path of the carrier for a bird's eye preview, and the Blast Corps Semi can be entered the same way as other vehicles, but doing so ends the current stage and saves progress automatically. Exiting a carrier stage without using the Semi causes everything completed in the stage to be lost.
On foot, the pilot is slow and can only destroy things under rare circumstances by dropping on them. It is necessary to exit the vehicles in order to get into other ones. The pilot is unable to interact with human survivors or the rest of the environment while on foot.
Blast Corps rewards the player by giving them ranks as they go further in acquiring medals. There are 31 ranks. The 30 promotions follow a predetermined order, as the player's number of points get higher. This number depends on the quantity and quality of the acquired medals:
- One point for every bronze medal
- Two points for every silver medal
- Three points for every gold medal
- Four points for every platinum medal
Every twelve points, the player is awarded a new promotion.
Blast Corps was rated the 71st best game made on a Nintendo System in Nintendo Power Magazine's Top 200 Games list.