Author: Dave E
Publisher: Impact
Machine: BBC/Electron

Published in EGG #013: Acorn Electron


The last in the trilogy of Impact Software games, Zenon is a sideways scrolling shoot-'em-up which brings very little, if anything, to the Electron party.

You start the game on the left of the screen, beamed down onto the planet of Zenon, with the mission of running from the extreme left to the extreme right of each scrolling "sheet" of deep space. The spaceman protagonist has a nicely animated running motion and can also hover in the air with use of the Shift key. Pressing Return fires a shot from your weapon and, as far as what you have to do, there's nothing more to be said than that.

Enemies storm onto the screen, usually from the right but sometimes from the top and occasionally from behind you. There are many varieties of them but all of them seem to bounce around slightly meaninglessly, and all of them can be destroyed if they get hit by the bullets from your weapon. Unfortunately, not one of them will be destroyed with a single shot... and the playing area is so small that, if you're running towards them, you only really have time to let off one volley before you're practically on top of them. If you intend to shoot them therefore, you find yourself running right a little, stopping, retreating a little, shooting, hovering, shooting again... and then being smacked in the back of your head by another enemy coming from behind you!


Bouncing through deep space you'll sometimes find a more powerful weapon (or indeed an energy top-up); when equipped with this, you can at least blast some alien ass for that particular sheet. The problem is that as soon as you start the next one, you'll be given the puny one again.

The inlay describes (playing) Zenon as "unbelievable". Hmmm, interesting choice of word. It's certainly "unbelievable" in its unfairness.

The inlay also makes a great deal of the two-player option but, personally, I found Zenon to be one of the very few games where you have exactly the same levels of boredom, even if you rope a friend into taking on a second spaceman. Graphically it's no more than competent and sound is limited to solitary blips when you fire. Seriously, if there was an award for mediocrity, Zenon would win it hands down. It's so terminally dull that it's almost a chore to even describe it.

Alongside Clogger and Orbital, this is clearly the weakest of the three games, and it led A&B to opine "I'm disappointed in it but can't quite explain why". I think I can. The disappointment stems from the fact that Zenon feels incredibly pointless within just a few seconds' worth of play. Nothing really says pointless like a man ordered to run over no less than 250 (!) screens of the same enemies, with one of the puniest guns ever. We all know he'll never make it. Right? What, you want to have a go anyway? Well, the good news is that you'll probably find it second-hand for about £2.50.

Dave E

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