Z

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Z

(Rino, 1986)

Z – a mysterious and unknown world full of aliens, and you have to make your way through the various landscapes of this world. Each level has a box which contains a spacecraft for you to continue your journey to the next level, and you have to collect bombs and use them to blast one side of the box in order to access the waiting spacecraft. You can get bombs by shooting aliens; a capsule will come along and you have to shoot it to release the bomb, which will decompose if you don't collect it quickly enough. At the end of the day, it's just another run-of-the-mill space shoot-'em-up, and the game is rather boring; you spend more time trying to collect the bombs than shooting aliens. The scrolling is impressively fast, though.

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5

Zampabolas

(System 4, 1990)

Who remembers Hungry Hungry Hippos from their childhood? Up to four players frantically bashed the levers on their hippos to try and eat as many of the marbles whizzing around the playing area as they could. It was fun and it was lunatic, but this computerised version of it just doesn't capture the magic of the original. While the graphics are cute and colourful, only one ball is released into the playing area at a time. It's not possible for the computer to take control of any of the hippos, either. If you can find more than one person to play with you, then you might get some enjoyment from it, but it's unlikely.

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Zap't'Balls: The Advanced Edition

(Elmsoft, 1993)

Ramses and Columbus are stuck in a Plus game cartridge (which shall remain nameless), and have to battle their way through 80 levels by zapping all the balls on each level, using a long spring which shoots into the air. However, there are platforms and ladders to negotiate, and neither of the two men can jump! This game was talked about long after it was released, because of the fantastic graphics and programming techniques used; apparently the programmer was able to emulate Plus hardware sprites on a normal CPC. However, the fact remains that despite being one of the best-looking CPC games of all time, it is just a Pang clone with not quite as much gameplay.

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8

Zarkon

(Budgie, 1987)

This is a cheap-looking horizontally scrolling space shoot-'em-up which really isn't up to much compared with similar games. Aliens and meteors fly about the screen, and turrets fire a hull of bullets at you. Unfortunately, they're rather difficult to see, and you're faced with a combination of aliens and turrets all at once rather often. The graphics are colourful but rather simple, and the sound effects are pretty poor. As for the game, it's frustratingly difficult, especially since you're sent all the way back to the start of the level every time you lose one of your three lives.

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5

Zarxas

(Chip, 1987)

What sort of name is that? You'd think it was yet another space shoot-'em-up. Well, you would be wrong; it's a very disappointing platform game. On each screen, there are several beacons to collect, but you have to collect each beacon in a particular order. In addition, there are several aliens who will climb ladders and ropes to catch you, although you can shoot holes in the platforms to prevent them from doing this. However, they always try to take the shortest route to you, and evading them is often very difficult. The graphics and sound are both poor, and the game is just too tough to get anywhere. The ability to design your own levels doesn't add much, either.

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2

Zaxx

(Chip, 1986)

Reviewed by Pug

Zaxx is a clone of the isometric scrolling shoot-'em-up Zaxxon. Your spaceship flies over enemy terrain blasting defences, installations and alien craft. You also have to navigate your way through barriers, which is where your height above ground comes into play. You also have to keep a careful eye on your fuel reserves or you may suffer a crash landing. The game plays at a comfortable speed with a moderate level of difficulty. The scrolling is a tad jumpy in its movement but this doesn't spoil the fun. The graphics are very colourful, well defined and flicker free. Sound-wise, engine noises, blasts and bangs entertain your ears, which work well with the game. My only criticism is in how you have to be correctly lined up with your target in order to hit it.

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7

zblast SD

(Nicholas Campbell, 2005)

Reviewed by Missas

zblast SD is a ZX Spectrum game that was originally written for the 2003 Minigame Competition and converted to the CPC two years later. Firstly, I would like to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this 100% pure, old-fashioned shoot-'em-up. The graphics are basic and crude, but they move fast and smoothly. The introductory screen is very nice and reminds me of what the old game boxes looked like. The sound is good; there are sound effects and two fast-paced tunes. The gameplay is really good and it reminded me of the 2010 release Dead on Time. You really must be tough to get a good score! Overall, this is by all means a cool game and is not to be missed, especially for arcade fans. Despite its technical drawbacks, I have given it a high rating because of its playability. Load it and get ready to be zblasted!

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7

Ziggurat

(Reaktör, 1987)

Deep within a labyrinthine ziggurat – a type of temple that is shaped like a pyramid – lies the fabled treasure of Tehotec, but many explorers have tried and failed to find it. Now it's your turn... This is an arcade adventure that is viewed from an isometric perspective. The ziggurat is vast and complex, and it is essential that you make a map, otherwise you'll become lost. To make things more difficult, Mimbies – the ghosts of previous explorers – roam the rooms. However, you can drop mice to lure them to a specific area of the room, or get rid of them by firing pebbles at them, but you will need to find a sling first! The graphics are well drawn, although the screen is rather bare, and there is some very good music on the menu. This is definitely a good game, but only if you've got the patience to map it thoroughly.

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7

Znax

(Shinra, 2015)

Reviewed by Missas

Znax is a puzzle game where you must match sets of four coloured tiles in a grid so they disappear. It is a smart idea that culminates in a not so easy game. The presentation is terrific; the graphics are really nice and brightly coloured with a good level of detail. A fantastic background is also present. The whole game is directly influenced by the demoscene. The sound is also great with a nice tune playing throughout the game. The gameplay is challenging and demanding; I have found it to be difficult for my taste. Overall, although I have a preference towards CPC puzzle games, this game truly deserves its high rating.

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8

Zolyx

(Firebird, 1987)

Way back in the early 80s, there was a classic game called Qix, where you controlled a snake and had to create boxes which were then filled in. The aim was to fill as much of the screen as you could while avoiding some objects which bounced around the screen. The aim of this game is very similar – you have to fill 75% of the screen, but don't touch any of the bouncing dots! The game becomes harder by adding more dots on each level. It's not easy to explain, and it can be rather addictive, but it's too hard in my opinion.

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7

Zombi

(Ubi Soft, 1986)

Reviewed by Guillaume Chalard

Inspired by the classic horror movie by George Romero, this graphic adventure game takes place in a supermarket invaded by the undead. You lead each of the four characters who have landed on the roof of the building and you must find several items to escape from a horrible death. Featuring good graphics and a clever gameplay, Zombi manages to be both scary and funny. Using a point-and-click interface, you have a great variety of actions to accomplish. The fight sequences aren't as good as the rest of the game (you must strike a key as fast as possible) but there many things to discover and a lot of places to explore. The title screen is great, by the way!

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8

Zombi Terror Reloaded

(Bitzarro Games, 2016)

Reviewed by Missas

You are docked on an island that has been overrun by zombies and you must escape – but once you do, the nightmare is not yet over... The plot of this text adventure game is interesting and the graphics accompanying the text are well drawn. The game has two parts, with the first part taking place on an island, and the second part taking place in the city of San Dario, which is under military control. It is not a very big game but its theme is attention-grabbing. As in most games of this genre, there is no sound. It is also a difficult game; patience will be appreciated! To sum up, text adventure fans will have a nice zombie hunt out there.

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7

Zona 0

(Topo Soft, 1991)

Tron – it's a classic game, but what can you do to make it more interesting? This version of the well known game adds some excellent graphics, fifteen different zones (most of which have their own unique layout), and let the player view the game in isometric 3D. The result is marvellous. Starting in zone 14, you must trap your computer-controlled opponents so that they crash in order to progress to the next zone. The speed of the game, and the tight confines of some zones, make this rather difficult, but the computer tries to use the same methods every time you play the game, so you'll need a good memory – and some luck! The graphics are great and so is the music.

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8

Zone Trooper

(Gamebusters, 1988)

A spaceship has crashed on another planet, and you're the only crew member who has been awoken from a state of suspended animation. You alone must explore the planet and find six plasma limiter pods, otherwise there will be a big explosion! This is a standard arcade adventure game in which you must explore all the terrain and shoot aliens. Most of your time is spent flying around the planet, but there are some sections where you can explore on foot by entering an airlock. The graphics, music and sound effects are all very good, but the plot is unoriginal and the simple, derivative nature of the game won't hold your interest for long.

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5

Zorro

(US Gold, 1985)

Reviewed by Pug

The computer version of Zorro is a platform-style adventure where you battle along in your quest to rescue the señorita. Colonel Garcia is holding her prisoner within the tower of his fort. Using a similar game engine to Datasoft's other platformer Bruce Lee, Zorro must climb, swing, collect objects and spar with the Colonel's guards. Its difficulty level is set just right, meaning that anyone can load this up and gain some enjoyment from it. The graphics vary in their appearance from screen to screen but still look a little dated. A short tune repeats endlessly but it isn't too irritating.

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6

Zox 2099

(Loriciels, 1987)

Zox has kidnapped four inhabitants of the planet Hullm, and they are imprisoned on his asteroid. Of course, you must rescue them. There are two parts to this rather nice game. The first part is a space shoot-'em-up where you must avoid being hit by the green bullets that are fired by the spacecraft flying towards you. If you manage to reach the asteroid intact, you then enter a maze where you must locate the prisoners while avoiding the guards, which you can stun temporarily with your laser gun. By the way, some of the walls in the maze can be moved... At first, I wasn't overly enamoured by the game, as the shoot-'em-up section is basic and repetitive, but once I reached the maze, it became more enjoyable, especially with the colourful graphics.

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7

Zub

(Mastertronic, 1986)

The King of Zub has sent our hero Zub on a mission to retrieve the green eyeball of Zub. Starting on Zub 1, you have reach Zub 10 by using the teleportation platforms located above each of the ten planets of the Zub system. When you've got the eyeball, you must then teleport your way back to Zub 1. You make your way to the top of each planet by manoeuvring platforms left and right, although you must crouch in order to move them properly. There are robots on each planet who will attempt to push you off the platforms, but you can shoot them. The team which programmed the game are completely mad – they must be with such a ridiculous plot – but it's a fun game with good graphics and music. Unfortunately it crashes on the higher difficulty levels, which is a shame, because the lower difficulty levels are too easy.

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7

Zynaps

(Hewson, 1987)

Reviewed by Chris Lennard

A no-nonsense shoot-'em-up from the creators of Uridium, this is a more Nemesis-style state of affairs, with simple side scrolling action as you guide your trusty spacecraft against marauding alien crafts and defences along a space-based environment that flows quickly past you. Swatting the enemy ships is relatively easy in itself, but avoiding the protruding landscape and fire from the defences makes this a much tougher proposition, especially as you have no control of your speed. Thankfully, power-ups are available to pick up along the way, as you encounter even larger, better protected vessels and asteroids. So while it isn't an original piece of gameplay, it does have some very colourful, pretty graphics, charming music and funky sound effects all in its favour.

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