Preview by Al Giovetti, 09/16/96
Genre: action arcade
Release: December 1996
Requirements: Windows 95
History: Shortly after the Electronic Entertainment Exposition (E3) in Los Angeles in the spring of 1996, The Computer Show crew visited Activision Senior Programmer Tom Sloper who was working on Blast Chamber with a Gravis Game Pad. We daisy chained in four controllers for our staff, save the poor cameraman, who has to work for a living, and we set off to play the game.
First of all there are four color coded highly explosive players, red, green, blue, and yellow. Now the explosive players and the play in Blast Chamber is based upon the premise that you are strapped into a suit that is lined with enough explosives to cover the computer monitor in blood and body parts—thus the name blast chamber. So we started playing and happily told each other to "have a blast."
First of all each player has a color coded timeclock, one in each of the four corners of the game cube, each ticking down the seconds and minutes until your character blows up. You cannot get out of the confines of the game cube which is shown on the screen of the computer. The cube has depth into the screen and can rotate clockwise and counter clockwise when certain switches within the cube are thrown.
There are obstacles of varying degrees of lethality that you must avoid. Gas floats in the air, lava is on the floor, laser beams crisscross certain trapped areas, and spikes can protrude out of anything just to name some of the obstacles. Your character can jump, run, bounce off springs, crouch, climb, and fall if the cube turns.
There are crystals scattered about the game that characters can pick up, carry, and put into either their own goals or the goals of competing characters. If you place a crystal your colored goal, you ge an additional twenty seconds. If you place it in an opponents goal 30 seconds is deducted from his time clock. If less than thirty seconds remain he is blown up. Whoever remains in one piece at the end wins.
We played quite a while under the watchful eye and tutelage of games master Tom Sloper, who we could tell was giving us a chance to win a few out of the kindness of his heart. But eventually, I think we gave Tom a little bit of a challenge, and got the hang of it. Finally one of the camera crew who was playing the game said, "Oh now I get the point," and someone blew up. After that things got nasty.
We were springing up and hitting rotation buttons, causing others to fall, triggering laser traps, and jamming gems into other people’s goals. People started dying quickly and with true squeals of glee and fear. We eventually had to call it a day, but we all look forward to having the game on our monitors. Thanks Tom! We are looking forward to when we can do it again.
Company line: It's 2096 and having a bomb strapped to you is a sport. In the death match of the future, your uniform is a time bomb. Sealed in the 3-D rotating Blast Chamber, you strive to cheat death as walls become floors and floors become ceilings. Time counts down while you and up to three opponents scramble madly to control the one thing that can save you the crystal. Extend your life or shorten your opponents to avoid a fiery death.
Plot: The player is born and bred to play "The Game" in a Tron like plot in the year 2096. Up to four human or computer controlled contestants strap a bomb to their chests and rumble.
Sixty 3-D rotating chambers: Survive 20 multi-player and 40 single-player chambers.
Deadly obstacles: Spikes, lava pits, plasm clouds, laser streams and other lethal surprises.
Radical power-ups: Including magnetic boots, high jumps, psy-bombs, crystal magnets and more.
Multiplayer: Intense 1 to 4 player action: Multi-player mode with up to four competitors, solo against computer opponents, solo against the clock, or training mode. Changeable camera perspectives.
Conclusion: Personally, I like the four on one monitor with the daisy chained game pads, you miss so much expression, body language, and sheer frustration of players, when you play over the antiseptic confines of a null modem, phone modem, network or internet.
Two player lacks the sheer mayhem and malice one might experience in the four player mode. And there is little chance without advanced means of voice communication to set up impromptu alliances, and watch the reactions of the other players as two pummel the other two or three gang up on one.
Steve Honeywell, http://happypuppy.com/pulse/previews/pc/blastcha.html
Editors, Computer Player, volume 3, number 3, August, 1996, pg. 83