Nice graphics, shame about the plot
During the next few months Impact Software is planning to release a number of top quality games at budget prices. Hot on the heels of the excellent Clogger comes Zenon - a one or two player arcade style action game with 250 levels.
The packaging sleeve reveals that the game has no real plot. All you are told is that you have to penetrate all 250 levels of the game - a feat that would require an extraordinary amount of stamina and concentration. Little wonder the manufacturers have claimed that it has yet to be achieved.
Having begun to play, another reason why I would not succeed in penetrating to the heart of Zenon soon became apparent. The sad fact is that the game is repetitive and boring. It failed to hold my attention for very long and I soon began to lose interest in running, or flying along, zapping the steady stream of creatures barring my path to the next level.
This is a shame because the amount of time that must have been spent in designing the sprites for the many different aliens, androids, fireballs and missiles that are encountered has been wasted. I'll probably never get to see half of them.
I also began to get the feeling that I'd played something very similar before. I couldn't remember what it was at first, but looking through my collection I dug out Rampage, which seems to have more than a passing similarity - and is a much more interesting implementation.
The mechanics are reasonably simple: You are beamed down to the surface of the planet Zenon with a Repeat laser and jetpack. Once you have arrived, the screen begins scrolling from right to left, bringing on a steady stream of creatures, missiles and other objects which you must either destroy or dodge by flying over or running under them.
Contact with anything hostile drains you of energy, though for the first few seconds after arriving you are immune to damaging effects. This gives you time to make yourself comfortable and find the keys you need to play the game. The two player option allows you and afriend to battle against the creatures simultaneously. Fortunately, your weapons do not affect each other, and I found that you tend to stay alive a lot longer with a friend to back you up. Once your energy is depleted you lose a life, and losing four means the end of the game. Occasionally you encounter a weapon cannister which, when touched, exchanges your current device for one contained in it. This can sometimes increase your potential for wreaking damage - but it can also work the other way.
It is possible to restore lost energy by either avoiding taking damage, thus allowing your spacesuit to recharge slowly, or by collecting the energy cells which occasionally pass by. To complete a level you must negotiate a distance equivalent to about 10 screen widths and this allows you to progress on to the next - which is slightly more difficult and contains new creatures to zap.
Zenon has all the sounds you would normally associate with this type of game, but if you like abit of peace and quiet you can turn them off. The same applies to the music, which, you can have running continuously as you play.
I don't rank this as one of the best games I've played, but then at about half the normal price of many others, I didn't expect it to be. However, if Impact can produce more games at the same price, with the same excellent quality graphics with more to them than just zapping aliens it might be on to a nice little earner.
And we impoverished gamers might be on to a good source of entertainment which doesn't leave us with a big hole in our pockets.