Publisher: SuperFighter Team
Rating: E (Everyone)
Dust off that Atari Lynx* and get ready for some hardcore shmup action – Zaku is finally here and it’s an instant classic that you don’t want to miss. SuperFighter Team and developer PengiNet have cooked up a solid and spectacularly tough 4 Meg chunk of horizontal arcade shooting set in 16 stages set over five worlds packed with big-eyed cartoon enemies and wacky screen-filling bosses that will give you candy-colored nightmares on each of its difficulty levels. The game is a near-perfect throwback to the days of classic 8 and 16-bit shooters and every level, every second of the game oozes quality, if not sheer programming genius. How this is running on the Lynx and looking as great as it does is a wonder, but it truly shows just how powerful (and under appreciated) the hardware was (and is).
As you’re not flying a ship, but playing as a character that can fly, your attacks are limited to a Rapid Shot, a charged Super Shot and a Back Blaster that hits enemies to the rear. You also have a powerful Clapping Shield that’s good on anything but the main bosses. The game can be pretty tough in spots, but it’s also fair once you get the timing of boss patterns down. The game’s influences are from all over the place, but it all feels fresh in this era of “By Today’s Standards” bring tossed around by reviewers who haven’t a clue as to what actual fun is. There’s a bit of homage to classic shmups Fantasy Zone, Gun Nac and a touch of Air Zonk here. But it all comes off as consistently stellar because it’s just so much fun to play on a system that’s supposed to be dead and buried (and indeed, it is to most gamers these days).
The game showcases some deep parallax scrolling, great use of color and even a nicely done score that pumps from those Lynx speakers as if it’s trying to kick a hole in the system. Pop in a pair of ear buds and take the phone off the hook, as you’ll be too busy bopping your head and tapping buttons to be disturbed by anything. Well, except for a few of those bosses the game throws at you. On the harder difficulties, you’ll be wondering what hit you even after you play with the Lynx’ brightness settings. The game is fairly lengthy and never dull, so if you can finally shelve that copy of Gates of Zendocon for good (or wedge it under a door somewhere).
To top off the package, Super Fighter has gone above and beyond the call, producing the first new Lynx game with the familiar curved lip design along with a sturdy box and FULL COLOR, multi-language manual (the latter being something no Lynx game ever had). Even more shocking, the game isn’t priced like a big deal collectible at all. $40 plus shipping is an absolute steal for a game this complete (and completely fun), so if you’re a Lynx owner who’s been on the fence since the launch, I’m here to say this is indeed a MUST buy game for the handheld. Grab it while you can (before it becomes an overpriced collectible, that is) – you won’t be disappointed.
* Of course, If you don’t have nor have ever heard of the Lynx, well… the Internet is a lovely thing when it works properly, isn’t it? Poke around and see if it’s something you’d be interested in buying and collecting games for.