Zero Wing

-Toaplan (1989)

-Also On Sega Genesis

The Story:

"In A.D. 2101 -- War was beginning. -- Captain: What happen ? -- Mechanic: Somebody set up us the bomb. -- Operator: We get signal. -- Captain: What ! -- Operator: Main screen turn on. -- Captain: It's You !! -- Cats: How are you gentlemen !! -- Cats: All your base are belong to us. -- Cats: You are on the way to destruction. -- Captain: What you say !! -- Cats: You have no chance to survive make your time. -- Cats: HA HA HA HA .... -- Operator: Captain !! -- Captain: Take off every 'Zig' !! -- Captain: You know what you doing. -- Captain: Move 'Zig'. -- Captain: For great justice."

My Thoughts:

Zero Wing is the game that started the whole ďAll your baseĒ craze that plagued the internet. The mistranslation of the gameís opening is one of the best examples of ďEngrishĒ in a game. It is interesting to note however, that the cinema does not exist in the arcade version of the game. Only when Zero Wing was released on the Sega Genesis was the cinema added. Itís good that opening was added because in the first stage your ship cruises out of a larger ship suffering from a flurry of explosions. In the arcade version youíre never told why, so at least the opening tries to clear up any confusion... and adds so much more.  

The pacing and stage design of Zero Wing is very similar to R-Type. The screen scrolls by at a slow pace and there are a few precision flying sequences. However, while the R-Type games are very excellent in nearly all aspects, Zero Wing is not. The backgrounds are way too busy. There is so much crap in the background that it is sometimes difficult to focus on the all important avoid-the-small-enemy-shots action. It becomes even more difficult to focus in a couple stages because of foreground scenery. I donít mind foreground stuff that can hinder you vision, but these overlays are almost as busy as the backgrounds. The stages range from space, space yards, a swamp planet, inside bases, and underground. The final stage has a sequence of large phallic pumping pistons for all of you that like that kind of thing.

The graphics are pretty decent and there is plenty of detail to be found in the distracting backgrounds and the bigger enemies. The music is pretty bad, though. The music for each stage was short and looped over and over. I found it more enjoyable to play with the sound turned off.

The player's ship, called the Zig, can power-up with red spread, blue lasers, and green homing rockets. Each weapon can only be powered-up twice, though. You never really feel like the shipís weapon has reached sufficient power since the small enemies take more than a few hits to destroy with the fully powered versions of each weapon. I found the blue lasers to work best throughout most of the game since they do a bit more damage, but the green homing rockets came in handy a few times. Every time you collect a different colored power-up, the color of the Zigís canopy changes to match. Iím not sure what kind of strategy this is since the enemy can clearly see what type of weapon is going to be fired at them.

The one innovative weapon in the game is the Galaga-like capture beam that can be used on enemies. The Zig can capture an enemy and use it as a one-hit shield or eject the enemy into the face of another. There is a super bomb, but it only appears once in each stage. Like the captured enemies, it attaches to the front of the Zig. Now, if Iím flying through space fighting of an armada of aliens, the last thing I want is my best weapon hanging in front of my nose so that the aliens can destroy it without me getting to use it. If you can, the best strategy is to try and save the lone bomb for the boss, which is quite tricky considering most of the bombs appeared in the middle of the lengthy stages. 

None of the enemy designs are particularly interesting or exude much originality. They all have a thick, blocky appearance, or are from the fatty camp of shooter enemies. The Zig, is very much in the overly rotund category. One enemy is clearly a Giger-esque Alien but with big bat wings. Perhaps this was an unused design in Kenner's Aliens line of figures that contained such treasures as Gorilla Alien, Crab Alien, Possum Alien, and Dolphin Alien. Most of the baddies attempt to stop you by shooting pink confetti. I was fooled into thinking that the mini-bosses were the actual stage bosses. They put up a hell of a fight and were challenging enough to be the real deal. The actual bosses are quite stronger, though and shoot way more pink confetti bullets. The bosses consist of an upside down space whale, the caboose of an aqua train, a base of pinwheels, a deadly plant, and other ships and big creatures.

The final boss is a big hovering piece of machinery with Catsí escape pod housed at the top. If you can, you must try to destroy the escape pod before it blasts off. However, the ending remains the same whether you destroy the escape pod or not. Cats escapes to continue his assault on the English language while little mech suits dance and the California Raisins float across the screen. As for the ending paragraph, Iím surprised Iíve never read it anywhere before because itís mistranslated just as well as the beginning. Maybe no one ever cared to play through Zero Wing when the bases were belonging to Cats. I donít blame them. If you notice, according to the year in the ending, the game took place over a span of ten years. I suppose that's right because it felt that long when I played through.

The Ending:

"Congratulation !! A.D. 2111 All bases of Cats were destroyed. It seems to be peaceful. But it is incorrect. Cats is still alive. Zig-01 must fight against Cats again. And down with them completely ! Good luck."


Score: 5.0