Z (Rino) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing

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Z
By Alligata
Amstrad CPC464

 
Published in Zzap #8

Z

Chris Butler, infamous author of Hypercircuit, makes a welcome reappearance on the C64 with what must be the shortest name for a computer game ever. Zed (or Zee as the Americanism has it) is also the first release from Alligata's newly established label, Rino Software. So where does such an unusual title come from?

In the farthest reaches of the galaxy there is planet, so advanced it has a powerful defence system that is totally computer controlled. For many years things ran smoothly with multitudes of aggressors being successfully repelled on a number of occasions. Until one fateful day when something went dreadfully wrong. The computer malfunctioned and was no longer capable of distinguishing between allied and enemy craft. Now someone must destroy the system before it's too late. Thai someone is you ... Codename Z.

The computer is housed within a control ship somewhere in the fourth dimension. This can only be reached by firstly battling through three other dimensions, inhabited by all manner of computer controlled nasties. Well, friendlies really as they were on your side before this little mishap occurred. There are three ships at your disposal and each has a limited energy supply that is depleted on ramming or hitting anything hostile.

The zones consist of a multi-directional, multi-screen, wrap-around playing area with a central transporter unit. This device is used to teleport to the next zone, but first the surrounding protective harrier must be penetrated. Energy Pods are occasionally released and contain capsules that, when collected, form bombs capable of holing the barrier, thus allowing access to the teleport and further levels.

Initially there are many Defence Ships that attempt to hinder progress. Each follows an individual movement pattern and frequently release mines. On the second level there are evasive Flying Saucims to contend with as well, while on the Third the aptly named Big Mothers make an appearance. These require ten hits to destroy them and have the nasty habit of releasing homing mines that cannot be disposed of and must be evaded. Meteorites are common to all dimensions and follow a predictable pattern, making them easy to destroy. The Control Ship itself though, has to be shot with five energy bombs before it is eradicated for good. And even then the planet will only temporarily he at rest as the whole thing starts over again, only at an increased level of difficulty.

GP

I was a great fan of Chris Butler's previous work, Hypercircuit, which consisted of little more than mindless, but enjoyable, blasting. Z is of a similar ilk with a few similarities in play and is as much fun as its predecessor. Graphically the game is of near arcade standard, with some brilliant backdrops, especially the lunar surface in the third dimension. The sound effects are suited to the game and add to the atmosphere of a fast, frenetic, high quality shoot em up such as this.

GL

This shoot-'em-up is immediately impressive. Press fire and before you know it you're zooming smoothly over an extremely pretty backdrop. Well to be accurate, I suppose the backdrop's moving under you, seeing as how your ship stays central. Although the attacking aliens are exceedingly vicious, they too are of a very pretty nature. The game is great fun to play and the excellent inertial control of the ship makes things very realistic. Z is virtually flawless in its execution and Chris Butler looks like someone who's going to go far.

Verdict

Presentation 92%
Few options but excellent demo/instructions feature within the program.

Graphics 96%
Brilliant, arcade quality scrolling backgrounds and sprites.

Sound 69%
Some competent and unusual sound effects.

Hookability 93%
All the addiction of a great shoot em up.

Lastability 87%
Plenty of zapping to keep itchy trigger fingers happy.

Value For Money 85%
Like having an arcade machine in your own home, only considerably cheaper.

Overall 88%
One of this year's better blasts.