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Blaster Master has two modes of gameplay that depends on the situation and location of the player. The first mode is where the player controls SOPHIA in a two–dimensional platform mode; the second mode is where the player controls Jason while outside SOPHIA in either the same 2D platform mode or in a top-down perspective. Gameplay in the top-down perspective consists of a series of labyrinths in which players navigate and defeat enemies along the way. Gameplay is non-linear, and players must return to earlier levels in order to advance to later levels in the game. The objective is to complete all eight levels and destroy the mutants and their bosses with various weaponry such as guns, grenades, and special weapons. A pink vehicle (which is SOPHIA THE 3RD) is in the center of the screen, jumping from a floating platform to a door on the right side of the screen. Below the floating platform are grey wall-walking enemies, a grey statuesque walking enemy, and a swamp-like bottom. The background consists of mountains in a dark blue sky. The vehicle jumps over chasms in the 2D platforming mode. While Jason is inside SOPHIA in the 2D platforming mode, the player can attack the mutants with the main cannon (which can shoot up, left, and right determined by the orientation of the tank) or with one of three special weapons. Special weapons have limited ammunition which must be collected from exploring the game. They include the following: homing missiles that, when fired, shoot 1 missile at each enemy on screen up to 4; "Thunder Break", which fires a high-damage lightning bolt downward; and "Multi Warhead Missiles", which simultaneously fires a set of three missiles at enemies in front of and diagonally up and down. Players select their special weapon and monitor the amounts of each special weapon left by accessing the Menu Screen by pressing the Start button. Gameplay in the top-down perspective consists of a series of labyrinths in which players defeat enemies along the way. The player switches between the 2D platforming mode and the top-down perspective by leaving the tank and entering small doorways located throughout the game. While in the top-down perspective, players can move Jason in any direction and destroy mutants with a gun or with hand grenades. In this mode, players upgrade the gun by collecting gun capsules, but the gun degrades by one point if Jason receives damage from mutants or hazardous objects. Here players obtain additional vehicle functions by destroying bosses; these functions include weapon upgrades as well as abilities to swim freely underwater, drive on walls and ceilings, and hover above the ground. The game has a glitch – colloquially known as the "grenade glitch" – to easily defeat four of the game's underbosses. To exploit this glitch, the player throws a grenade at the boss, and while the grenade is exploding and causing damage on the boss, the player pauses the game. While the remainder of the action on the screen freezes, the grenade remains active, continuing to damage the boss. After fifteen seconds the player unpauses the game to find that the boss is destroyed. Jason and SOPHIA have separate power meters, and they decrease whenever they sustain damage by an enemy or any other hazardous object or whenever Jason falls from a high place. Players can replenish these power meters by collecting power capsules that appear throughout the game. Also, the player can replenish Jason's health to full at any time by re-entering SOPHIA. The player loses a life if either power meter runs out, and the game ends when all lives are lost. Players get five continues that allow them to restart the game at the same level in which they have lost all their lives. A "hover gauge" monitors the amount of thrust remaining in SOPHIA and is located on the left side of the screen above the power meter; additional thrust can be obtained by collecting hover capsules.
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