Review: Zack Zero
It is always great to be surprised by a game that comes out of nowhere. Little was known about Zack Zero before its release last week on the European PlayStation Store which always makes me a little nervous. Thankfully after completing Zack Zero I am happy to report that it isn’t all that bad.
In the game you take control of Zack Zero, think of him as a man with an Avatar suit, who is on a quest to rescue his girlfriend Marlene. She was taken by the evil Zulrog who has a vendetta against Zack. While this may sound sinister, the game does a good job keeping the mood light— mostly thanks to the comic style cutscenes. The voice acting is a little rough but I am not one who judges a game based on a voice casting budget.
As I was saying before Zack is a master of the elements, water, fire and earth. Hidden throughout the levels are green gems, which when collected give Zack more power for his suit. The game does a Castlevania type opening where you have a fully powered suit of awesome that tragically gets drained of its power. By collecting the gems you gain levels which open back up more powers for you to use. I do wish however you have the option to choose what gets upgraded. Currently upgrades are automatcially unlocked when gaining levels, which is nice but I would rather have control over it. For example I never used the Stone punch ability and would have rather used the points given for that in other areas. Levels are designed in a way that you will be making use of all three elements in pretty much every stage— it could be an extra long jump that needs your fire glide, a puzzle with moving heavy objects in rock mode, or a section where the ice time slowdown might be useful. There is also a good bit of exploring that you can do in levels. It might lead you to more upgrade gems or maybe even a hidden treasure.
Eventually you will come to the end of a stage where you are met with a boss fight. All of these fights are a little different, but it mostly involves some simple pattern recognition. Which will be something that fans of old-school platforming will love. The game also does an excellent job of keeping your progress saved, even in mid-boss fight. There were numerous times where I died almost at the end of a fight but thankfully the game checkpointed me about halfway through the battle. Some might think this makes the game easy, it does but it also lessens the frustration of having to repeatedly have to get back to where you left off. The game’s levels also have the same frequent checkpointing. This was welcomed after playing Amy just before this.
I should warn you that I did have the game hardlock on me a few times when starting a level up. The current workaround floating on the internet is not being connected to PSN when starting the game. It seems that the game’s leaderboard implementation might be causing the problems. It is something that you can’t miss while playing. Check the video below and you will notice frequent pop-up bubbles telling me I suck and that Ladyeira has a better score. These can be a little distracting and I wish there was an option to hide them. One other issue I had with the game was with the layered platforming. Think of LittleBigPlanet where you have two or three planes in which you can hop on. The game seemed to get a little confused every once and it would lead me to an untimely death. There are also a few times where Zack seemed to miss a platform that he should have landed on. Nothing game breaking though since the checkpoints as mentioned are frequent.
Zack Zero is the perfect game from someone who is a fan of old-school platforming. However some may take issue with the difficulty in Zack Zero. It is far more easy to complete than say Mega Man. So if you are a fan of controller throwing difficulty and pixel perfect precision, you might not find enjoyment here. But if you are just looking for a game to play that is fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously, Zack Zero might be just what you are looking for.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Great checkpointing system
- Boss encounters are well designed
- Level design is varied with interesting puzzles
- Game has a great Saturday morning cartoon feel
What I Dislike:
- Sometimes the layer platforming has issues
- I wish I had the option to choose upgrades
- Occasional hardlock when starting a game
- While the leaderboard support is nice, it is a little overwhelming in-game