Title           T-Zero
Game Type       Shoot-em-up
Publisher       ClickBOOM
Game Type       Shoot-em-up
Publisher       ClickBOOM
Players         1 or 2
Compatibility   AGA (CD drive)
HD Installable  Yes (Compulsory)
Submission      Eric Haines (ehaines@mint.net)

    In the modern computer game world of high-tech 3D wonders, it's a
little surprising that ClickBOOM would release what amounts to a plain,
old-fashioned, sideways scrolling shoot-em-up. I wonder if it will be the
last commercial game of this type?

    To be sure, it's still a modern CD-ROM game, with loads of options,
rendered animation, CD soundtracks, the ability to save your game, and so
on. You can choose how much of the game to install on your hard drive - my
16x CD-ROM coped quite well, but unfortunately the minimum install doesn't
allow for saved games to work, so I went with the next level up, which
uses around 50MB of hard drive space.

    T-Zero requires AGA and doesn't work on graphics card modes.
Fortunately I have a PicassoIV, so this doesn't matter much, though the
programmers did use an odd screen mode that causes some color flickering
on still images. This is a little distracting, though luckily the game
itself is free of this problem, which probably wouldn't occur for those
not using scan-doubling anyway.

    The graphics themselves are quite professionally done throughout the
game. The 3D rendered sequences aren't the best I've seen, though they do
have a unique style and are interesting to watch a few times. Still images
are high-resolution and look great, aside from my color flicker problem.
In-game graphics are extremely smooth and all the various ships and
backgrounds are well-drawn. You can choose to have various levels of
background animation, though the highest level I found a bit distracting,
and it also led to the one real problem I found with the game: Major
graphics-trashing. This usually happened when there were lots of objects
on-screen at once, and caused the game to be nearly unplayable until the
trashed graphics scrolled off-screen. Using medium background animation
solved this, however.

    One of the options lets you choose between two modes of play: Arcade
and high-tech. The former turns all the bonuses into somewhat
silly-looking flowers and fruit and so on, whereas high-tech gives you
more standard colored metallic shapes. Also there are different sets of CD
soundtracks for each mode. Useless? Yes, but kind of amusing. This applies
to a lot of the options, actually. Do you really need to choose the color
of explosions?

    The sound is mostly standard zaps and explosions, with some voice by
the ClickBOOM lady, who does a somewhat better job than she did on Napalm.
The CD soundtracks aren't much better than the Amiga could do with mods,
but they're nicely arcade-ish anyway. Sometimes they run out before the
level does, but in this case I suppose that's better than the pause you
normally get while the CD track loops.

    Now for the gameplay: well, it's a standard sideways scrolling
shooter, like R-type or Project X. All of the bells and whistles don't
change that. You get to choose between 3 ships, and there are a bunch of
power-ups, but that's nothing new. Each level has two different paths you
can take, but that's not exactly ground-breaking either. What is unusual
is the editor, so you can make your own levels. But people don't seem too
motivated to use it, because I haven't seen any T-Zero levels anywhere. I
haven't even looked at it myself, since I still haven't made it through
the game - either T-Zero is hard, or I'm not too good at it. (Entirely
possible, as I haven't played any sideways scrollers in years.) The
save-game feature is not common among shooters either, and I found it to
be quite welcome.

    So, if you still like old-fashioned blasting waves of aliens, get
T-Zero. Everything else these days is either 3D or a real-time strategy
game of some sort, so in a sense it's sort of refreshing. It's certainly
well done and rather fun.

    A footnote about the copy protection: it's annoying and stupid. After
playing a level, you're required to look up some symbols from the manual
and enter a code. This would deter pirates for all of 5 minutes while they
found a decent photocopier, and serves only to irritate legitimate buyers.
The only saving grace is that you only have to do this once per game
session, but it still puts me off from playing a little.

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