Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond Review

I’m not too familiar with the Matt Hazard games and only know the fact that it is a parody of video games in general, using its lead character, with his fake video game history, as a conduit through which its creators lampoon various games and genres. The first game, Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard, wasn’t received very well and D3 Publisher went back to the drawing board with their eponymous hero, returning with a XBLA and PSN title. Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond drops the 3D shooter genre of the previous game and instead is a 2.5D side-scrolling shooter, much in the vein of Contra and Rush N’ Attack.

I have to say that by restraining Matt Hazard and confining the game to a smaller outlet, Blood Bath and Beyond succeeds at being a fun and bloody way to waste some time on an afternoon by yourself or with a friend.

Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond sees Matt returning to battle to stop a mad Russian general who has gone back in time and kidnapped Matt’s 8-Bit self. Matt Hazard must now travel through the Marathon MegaCorp server, revisiting old game titles to rescue his 8-Bit self and avoid deletion. You’ll do this by blasting a lot of enemies and spouting wise-ass quips along the way.

Each level is a mish-mash of previous video games and had me chuckling throughout the game’s 8 levels. As you traverse through paraodies of BioShock, Mirror’s Edge, and Team Fortress 2, you’ll blast various enemies from Matt’s past games. Puking penguins, fearsome yetis, and the occasional pirate with a female animation set will assualt you. The game takes full advantage of knowing it is a game and is constantly throwing odd enemies and changing levels at you, all in the name of programming “mistakes.”

The gameplay takes most of its inspiration from shooters like Metal Slug. You’ll gain weapon upgrades that only have a certain amount of ammo and you’ll execute a knife attack when enemies get too close for comfort. You can lob grenades to dish out more damage and when you cause enough carnage — a feature the game isn’t afraid to tout — you can enter Hazard Time, which doubles your firepower and makes you invincible. Also, like Metal Slug games, Blood Bath and Beyond is incredibly hard. Enemies vastly outnumber you and bullets can fill the screen making it almost impossible to dodge and stay alive. I had to put the game in “Wussy” difficulty just to get through to the end, and I still was dying constantly.

The shooting is satisfying, though, and the action is constant, if a bit dull at times. The game never really rises out of the “run left, shoot more” mechanic, and never presents any new or awesome set piece. The levels are funny, but other, more successful shooters have vehicle segments or special levels that vary up the pace. Riding missiles from the Contra series comes to mind.

The entire game can be played in co-op and this does add to the fun factor. Player two takes control of Matt’s sidekick, Dexter Dare, and the game even parodies this, with the ability to steal your partner’s lives. This option also makes the game easier, as having two people blowing enemies into bits lightens the load.

Blood Bath and Beyond is also ripe with collectibles, one of my favorite parts of the game. Certain enemies drop Pachinko coins that can be used to drop rag-doll bodies down a pachinko machine for extra points. Also hidden in each level are three NES-style carts that unlock artwork and backstory for one of Matt’s previous games. It was pretty funny seeing past games like “Haz-Matt Karts” and edutainment game “Matt Hazard Math.” This is one of this franchise’s biggest draws and it would be so great if the developers would make this stuff playable as unlockables. If you’re going to build a fake videogame history around a character, let us sample it at the very least.

Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond is a fun shooter that is perfect for wasting away a boring afternoon. The side-scrolling action and hilarious levels will keep you entertained, and bringing a friend along adds to the fun. Just don’t expect a whole lot of depth or surprises as the game never presents anything more than its concept.


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Author: Matt Erazo View all posts by

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