Vacationing at one of the most luxurious resorts, Zack had high hopes for a relaxing stay with his girlfriend Marlene. The vacation was cut short however when the planet was attacked by the evil General Zulrog and his brother from the safety and confines of their mothership.
Without hesitation, Zack and Marlene snuck aboard the ship and planted explosives everywhere to cripple it. Captured by Zulrog and his brother everything takes a twist: Zulrog’s brother fires a blast that ends up killing himself and allowing Zack and Marlene to escape.
Vowing to get revenge on Zack, Zulrog kidnaps Marlene and holds her prisoner on his home world. To save the one that he loves, Zack must pack some serious heavy-duty firepower. Thankfully through the use of nanotechnology (no this is not Metal Gear Solid), Zack’s suit gives him unique powers that make him almost invincible. I stress almost. All the technology in the universe still cannot save Zack from falling to his death again and again. Using the suit, Zack can utilize the power of fire, ice and stone. You are able to engulf your enemies in scorching flames, freeze time down to a trickle and transform your body into powerful stone that can destroy almost anything in your path.
As much as you must rely on your suit to help you battle against overwhelming odds, the suit is even more important when trying to travel across the planet. The flames power allows Jack to glide across the air, while the ice power allows you to freeze time to get through seemingly impenetrable areas. Sadly the suit doesn’t grant any defensive powers to Zack as he is unable to block or deflect any incoming enemy attack. In fact you are only a few hits away from being sent back to the nearest checkpoint at any given time. Maybe Zack should invest in a shield instead.
Making your way through dark and mysterious caverns, well-defended enemy bases and chambers full of boiling lava is no walk in the park, but making things even worse are the inhabitants that want Zack dead. You would think he committed genocide against puppies or something. In any event, I have never before been fighting tribal inhabitants one minute, trying to stay alive against enormous worms the next, and then chased by giant beetles, stone golems and humanoid toads!
More often than not I found myself dying not by the hands of some gruesome creature, but instead having trouble crossing a gap or missing a platform and falling to my death. While in the air, Zack is not exactly the most nimble person and trying to double jump at the apex of his jump is hit and miss. Levels also tend to have gusts of air that easily effect Zack’s movement, but sometimes it will blow you just short of where you have to go, prompting a restart.
If you didn’t know the game supported online leaderboards, you will be well aware of that fact after playing for some time. A pop-up will appear on the screen every couple of minutes or so showing the leader of current level, your friends list leader and the overall leader for the game. I like the idea in concept, but the displayer timer needs to be longer to not become an annoyance after restarting a section in a level for the 12th time.
The levels themselves are quite long in length and utilize a fantastic checkpoint system. The puzzles throughout the levels are the usual classic platformer fare. Be prepared to use large stone blocks to depress buttons, light candles in the correct order to open a door and use wind gusts to travel to high and far off platforms. The bosses at the end of each of the levels are pattern based and once learned you can easily beat them without getting hit, but until then expect to restart a few times as some of the bosses have multiple stages.
Zack Zero is a very colorful game with varied environments that use lots of different effects throughout that help it shine as a downloadable title. Some of the locales seem like stock sci-fi environments, but it didn’t effect my enjoyment of the game. After starting the game with all your powers, they are surprisingly stripped from you and you must level up throughout the game to regain the powers that were lost. There are 20 levels in all to gain, but sadly you don’t get to choose what power gets leveled up first, as everything is predetermined.
Overall it’s an enjoyable return to the classic action-platformer-adventure game. Be warned you die in the game. A lot. If it is not Zack’s quick to drain health, you will be falling to your death more than you would like — even in the same place more than once! I would have liked to see the game at the sweet price point of $9.99, but for only $3 more it’s still worth your money, especially for Crocodile Entertainment’s first game on the PSN. Throw in comic book style cutscenes with a humorous voice acting and you got yourself a good time.
Note: The Zack Zero review was written based on the PS3 version of the game provided by the publisher.