AGH Jaguar Review: ZERO 5

by Telegames

Zero 5 Pic 1

Zero 5 was in trouble the moment it was revealed that gameplay would consist of 3 distinct sub-games. You may be thinking the exact opposite, however. After all, if there are three games on one cartridge, there's a better chance that one or more of them would be enjoyable, right? You see, that's precisely the reason that three games ARE included; none of them manage to stand on their own as an individual game. What the developer should have done is to lavish attention on one of the play modes and try and perfect it. Tron it is not.

The first game mode is the gunnery mode, where you control the guns of the HIT-PAK to wipe out your foes. Unfortunately, this play mode is flawed from the start. The radar map only tracks the horizontal coordinates of your ship without informing you of your vertical position relative to other objects. A radar that is similar in concept to Star Raiders would have helped the gunnery mode immensely. As if that wasn't frustrating enough, control is imprecise; more often than not it was just a matter of sheer luck that I managed to blow up an enemy object.

The second game has you zooming through a tunnel (a-la Nanotek Warrior or STUN Runner) at breakneck speeds, and the object is to shoot enemies (what else?) while avoiding them. While this simple enough formula could have been something special, flaws abound yet again. The tunnel is far too narrow, and given that your ship is traveling at an incredible rate, it makes for a frustrating experience that only those with knee-jerk reactions can enjoy. Too often you will felt that you lost a game by virtue of Zero 5's poor design and not as a result of a mistake on your part.

Zero 5 Pic 2

The intergalactic combat mode is described by Telegames as a "3-D, 360 degree space dogfight." They are only partially correct. Think of it as a 3-D version of Space Wars (without the ability to thrust) or Space Zap (Bally/Midway)and you wouldn't be far off. The object is to steer (rotate might be the more appropriate term here) your BAMBAM toward the direction of your enemies and shoot and destroy them. Since you view the action from a fixed third person persepective and the enemies are always the same distance from your ship, you really get no sense of movement or control of the action.

It's too bad that each of the sub-games are flawed in one way or another, because Zero 5 is embellished with some of the best graphics and sound ever seen on the Jaguar. Beautiful polygons (with a touch of texture-mapping) are better than even Iron Soldier 2 or Battlemorph, the hitherto cream of the eye candy crop. The developers chose to go with 256 colors in the game to keep the polygons pumping at a rapid pace. The music is of standard shooter fare, meaning that a generic techno tune will be thumping in the background. A dose of voice samples add to the futuristic feel of Zero 5 and rounds out the impressive repetoire of audiovisual delights.

Make no mistake: Zero 5 is a quantum leap for the Jaguar in terms of drawing the most of the 64-bitter's hardware abilities. In comparison, however, each of the sub-games have fundamental shortcomings such that only the very skilled and patient Atariphiles will experience the triumph of conquering this intergalactic blast-fest.

Title Zero 5
Publisher Telegames
System Atari Jaguar CD
Graphics 9
Sound 8
Gameplay 3
Overall 4
Reviewer Keita Iida

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