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One of the two Japanese arcade flyers of Zero Wing.
|Composer(s)||Tatsuya Uemura, Toshiaki Tomisawa, Masahiro Yuge|
It enjoyed a degree of success in arcades and was subsequently ported to the Mega Drive by Toaplan on May 31, 1991, in Japan, and by Sega during the following year in Europe, followed by a Japan-only release by Naxat Soft on September 18, 1992, for the PC Engine's CD-ROM².
As with other scrolling shooters, the aim of the game is to shoot all enemies that appear on screen and avoid getting obliterated by enemy fire, crashing into enemies or into foreground scenery. There are mid-level and end-of-level boss enemies that stay with the player until they are defeated. The game features eight levels, each a few minutes long and featuring different styles and enemies: Natols, Legrous, Pleades, Aquese, Submarine Tunnel, Barricade Zone, Bellon, Gerbarra.
The player, a "ZIG" star fighter, has several ways to attack:
- Using the main cannon: single-shot (without power-ups), scatter-shot (red power-up), lasers (blue power-up), or homing missiles (green power-up). Similar to configuring the Vic Viper in Gradius or collecting pickups in R-Type.
- Ramming smaller enemies with the orbital cannons that appear above and below the ZIG. These cannons fire whatever weapon is equipped on the main ship at the time, similar to R-Type Leo.
- Grabbing an enemy using the tractor beam and releasing it at another enemy.
- Releasing the spherical front shield once it is collected.
In the intro scenes, the ZIG's windows are green. In the game itself, the windows change color depending on what weapon the player has.
Soon after starting, the player encounters power-up ships. If destroyed, they leave behind power-ups. These run in the sequence of red weapon, blue weapon, green weapon, and speed-up, and then start with red again. There is also an occasional shield power-up, which attaches to the front of the ship. Once the first weapon power-up is collected, two small ships appear above and below the ZIG, and follow its exact movements. These extra ships are impervious and can be used as shields. As they occasionally move nearer to the ZIG when blocked by large enemies or foreground scenery, they can serve as a warning to the player that they should move carefully to avoid a collision.
Each of the three main weapons has three power levels. Each time the same weapon is collected, the power level increases. If a different weapon is collected, it starts back on level 1 power, unless level 3 power was already attained previously. If a second shield power-up is obtained while one is already held, a special power-up will replace it which increase all weapons to a special, otherwise unattainable, level 4. Level 4 weapons may also be obtained by detonating an object that would yield another bomb power up while already carrying a bomb.
After it became fairly successful in the arcades and game centers, Zero Wing was ported to the Mega Drive in 1991 by Toaplan themselves and the CD-ROM², an add-on for the PC Engine, by Naxat Soft in 1992. The Mega Drive version was also released in Europe by Sega in 1992. The home console versions of Zero Wing were never released in North America due to the release of the arcade version distributed by Williams Electronics. The Japanese release will play fine on American consoles. Like most early titles it had no region protection, nor had the European release been PAL-optimized.
In the Mega Drive version, to expand on the game's plot, Toaplan added an introductory cut scene to the game. This introductory scene was translated by Sega of Europe to English from Japanese rather poorly for the European release (a phenomenon dubbed Engrish), resulting in dialogue such as "Somebody set up us the bomb", "All your base are belong to us", and "You have no chance to survive make your time". The introduction does not appear in the arcade nor CD-ROM² versions, rather, a different intro takes place with a blue-windowed ZIG.
The game received positive critical reception upon release. Computer and Video Games scored it 93%, including ratings of 92% for graphics, 93% for sound, 90% for playability, and 89% for lastability. They praised "the great intro sequence", "super-smooth gameplay, beautifully defined graphics, rocking sound track, amazing explosions and incredible end-of-level bosses", concluding that it is "the game which breaths new life into shoot 'em ups on the Megadrive". Mean Machines scored it 91%, including ratings of 92% for presentation and graphics, 88% for sound, 90% for playability, and 89% for lastability, concluding that it is one of "the best Megadrive blasts in ages." Sega Force scored it 86%, including ratings of 84% for presentation, 89% for visuals, 83% for sound, 89% for playability, and 82% for lastability, concluding that it is "almost as good as Hellfire" but "not quite."
The game has received mixed reception from retrospective reviews. GameTrailers listed the Mega Drive version of Zero Wing as the seventh-worst video game in its "10 Best and Worst Video Games", though the focus was on its bad translation. However, a later ScrewAttack review said the game was "not that bad". It praised its soundtrack, stating that it contains "some of the best 16-bit rock music you'll ever hear". Retro review site HonestGamers said that "Much is made of this game, all things considered. And it's funny, because there's not a whole lot to it," before giving it a lackluster score of 4/10.
"All your base are belong to us"
This is likely the best example of bad translations becoming popular memes.
- Computer and Video Games, issue 117, pages 60-62
- Games-X, issue 9
- Joystick, issue 18, page 182
- Mean Machines, issue 10, pages 74-76
- MegaTech, issue 5, pages 32-35
- Sega Force, issue 7, pages 70-71
- Sega Power, issue 23, page 55
- Nov 23, 2010 (2010-11-23). "HonestGamers: Zero Wing". HonestGamers. Retrieved 2010-11-27.
- Nov 17, 2006 (2006-11-17). "Top 10 Best and Worst Games of All Time". Gametrailers. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
- Nov 2, 2009 (2009-11-02). "Video Game Vault: Zero Wing". ScrewAttack. Retrieved 2009-11-13.
- Jeffrey Benner (2008-08-28). "When Gamer Humor Attacks". Wired.com. Archived from the original on September 8, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
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