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by Robert Jung
- 1 Player
- Telegames, for the Atari Jaguar
- It is the year 2044. Earth has finally made contact with
the first non- Terran life form -- and it isn't friendly.
As the alien armada approaches, Earth Defense deploys
armored HIT-PAK space cruisers to stop their attack.
Using the HIT-PAK's main guns and its autonomous BAMBAM
fighter, you must engage the enemy over an extended
campaign and try to save the Earth.
- If that's the crisis you're in, then this must be ZERO 5.
In this cartridge from Telegames, you must battle the
unnamed alien forces over 15 grueling missions. The game
offers three modes of play -- you'll operate the
HIT-PAK's massive quad-cannon guns, dogfight in open
space with the BAMBAM fighter, and race through canyons
and tunnels in high-speed assaults. The game ends when
you are destroyed; fortunately, three difficulty levels
and the option to skip earlier missions help make things
GAMEPLAY - 5.5
- Hybrid games -- games that consist of several distinct
sub-games -- have never really caught on. This is usually
because the individual games aren't sophisticated enough
to hold a player's interest on their own, and the sum
fails to be greater than the parts. ZERO 5,
unfortunately, does not break from that trend; though it
tries, each of its individual play modes is defective by
- The space dogfight sequences are the worst offenders,
since this mode isn't "flying" at all. You
control your BAMBAM from a fixed third camera, and
steering the ship makes it turn in different directions.
Your goal here is to point your ship at the attackers,
then destroy them and their shots. Evasion and fancy
flying are not possible, and the enemy are always in the
same position relative to you. Worse, the fixed
third-person view makes it easy to get disoriented, and
the lack of helpful guides makes aiming difficult.
- The other game modes aren't as frustrating, but they are
still flawed. The gunnery mode, where you operate the
HIT-PAK's cannons to destroy enemy objects, suffers from
imprecise aiming and a poor sense of your cruiser's
space; it is easy to get hit from an object that you
thought would have missed you. And the tunnel-flying game
is essentially a simplified version of S.T.U.N. RUNNER,
complicated by almost-impossible speeds and a
claustrophobic view. To compound things further, even the
easiest difficulty level is rather hard, and the endless
button-pounding that the game requires quickly induces
- To its credit, ZERO 5 is not a terrible game per se.
Despite their flaws, the cannon-firing and tunnel-flying
modes do provide some satisfaction, and the long missions
requires hard work before they are beaten. Even the high
difficulty isn't too stifling; since the appearance of
enemies and obstacles is fixed, it's possible to memorize
their appearances and devise tactics appropriately. But
the rewards are always tinged with some degree of
displeasure, and ultimately you're left with a feeling of
how the game could have been better.
GRAPHICS/SOUND - 9/9
- It is a shame that ZERO 5's gameplay is so discouraging,
because it is coupled with some very sweet graphics and
sounds. Game graphics consist primarily of Goraund-shaded
and texture-mapped polygons; the animation is smooth and
fast, even if the colors tend toward bright primaries.
Other small touches -- like the brief cinematic clips
before and after each mission, and the Minter-esque
Pixelshatter explosions -- round out a succulent feast of
rapid-fire visual delights.
- The game is no slouch in the audio department, either.
Voices and sound effects are clear and distinctive, with
enough richness to immerse you into the action.
Background music consists of several hard-hitting techno
tunes, perfectly suited to the game's nonstop action.
They compliment the game without distracting from it,
though the presence of a bass/treble control seems almost
SUMMARY - 7
- Stripped bare, ZERO 5 is an attempt at hybrid gaming that
yields mixed results. While the graphics and sound are
top-notch, they cannot completely overcome the flawed
gameplay and high difficulty level. Still, determined
players with a high threshold for pain might be willing
to labor through ZERO 5 and reap the rewards.
|10 - 8
||Great! This game can't get much
|7 - 5
||Good. Average game, could be
|4 - 2
||Poor. For devotees only.
||Ick. Shoot it.
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