In the evening sky on a very clear night you may just see a small and unassuming planet glowing in the far recesses of the deepest galaxy.
So advanced is this planet that its defence system is completely controlled by a powerful computer. Things have run smoothly for aeons, but lately the computer software has started to throw up a few bugs - most seriously, it's losing its ability to distinguish between enemy and friendly craft.
The malfunction is causing havoc on this peace-loving planet. Now someone (OK. YOU) must destroy this computer before it's too late. Your mission codename is Z.
The computer lies within the fourth dimension - a place only talked about, because no-one has ever got there. To reach this strange world you must travel through a hostile wraparound scrolling play area.
You take with you three ships; their energy supplies are damaged by contact with enemy craft, but slowly, constantly, automatically replenished.
Within each zone is a central transporter unit which will take you to the next level. But first you have to capture an energy capsule, which can be used as a bomb to break open the transporter.
Each level is protected by different forces. On Level One, a squadron of 20 fighters assisted by natural meteorites attempts to stop you. The countryside battle zone of Level Two presents a deadly collection of evasive Flying Saucims (sic) emitting directional missiles. And on the lunar landscape of Level Three you're confronted by great big Mother Ships throwing out a collection of homing missiles.
On completing the third level you gain an extra ship to help in your final battle in the Nightflight zone, where you need five direct hits to finish off the enemy.
Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: monochromatic, with colour on status panel
Options: definable keys
'Z is yet another over-simple monochromatic scrolling game. The sound is mumbly and unimaginative and there's no addictivity. Steer well clear of this one.'
NICK ... 40%
'Monochrome shoot-'em-ups seem to be quite popular now, so ten out of ten to Rino for style - but minus several million for good thinking. Z is unattractive and unaddictive, and I wouldn't buy it.'
MIKE ... 52%
'Z is pathetically simple. All it boils down to is a graphically neat, sonically awful scrolling shoot-'em-up, of which there are many. Still, it's quite playable for a while...'
MARK ... 41%
From what I can gather, this is a conversion of a well known and loved game for the Commodore 64. It's been programmed by Rino, Alligata's cheapie arm (geddit?), and it's basically a shoot-anything-that-moves game, though without the eight-volume novel that usually accompanies this sort of product, explaining in great and unnecessary detail why.
Z is set in a mysterious world where death is round every corner (Hounslow?). Actually it reminds me of an arcade from a while back called Time Pilot, though that was better. Your aim is to destroy ten standard aliens (what's substandard?), and when that's done, an energy unit appears. Blow this away and it turns into a bomb. When you've done this several times, you can mount an attack against the transporter. You'll know what this looks like as during the game there's no way you can avoid bumping into it! (Everything else you glide effortlessly over.) With a few bombs, though, you can gain revenge for all those dents in your front fender and blow it to smithereens. When there's a suitable gap you can fly through to the next level, which is set over a lovely country landscape (dum de dum de dum de dum...). It's basically the same as level one, though this time you have pesky flying saucers firing missiles at you. Once you get through ̶ okay, if you get through to the next level ̶ you'll find yourself on a lunar screen, and yet again the gameplay's the same... except that this time there are mother ships around zapping out homing missiles! Aaargh!
The fourth and last level is different, though. Called Nightflight (for reasons that become obvious when you try it), it has no transporter, but go about your business as usual and when you've picked up five bombs, the alien control ship appears. It takes five direct hits to dispose of this little lovely, and if you fail, well, prepare to be canned and fed to Fido.
The monochromatic graphics aren't bad, although sometimes it can be hard to make anything much out (like baddies, missiles, walls...). But the scrolling, speed and control are worthy of any game twice the price, or more. I especially like the way the ship explodes whenever you make a dramatic cock-up (like hitting a baddie, missile, wall...).
So, all in all, a cracking little shooter at a fair price. I'd've liked a faster stream of bullets, and I was a bit miffed by the way the craft flew diagonally up to the left but not to the right. Still, Z scores mainly on the price. It's one cheapie game that certainly won't put you to sleep!
|Value For Money||7/10|
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