Thankfully there's one thing that is consistent -- the gorgeous graphics. Zack Zero is an unbelievably good looking game. It's not that the characters are especially original or interesting, but rather the way the camera focuses on objects. The foreground is detailed to the point that it almost looks like stop-motion animation, and I love the way they use soft focus to give off the depth of field. What's more, the bad guys have a tendency of walking into Zack's path from the background. It really feels like these characters live in that world, which is not something you can say about a lot of the games that influenced this action title.
The audio isn't nearly as lucky. The music is often forgettable and the voice acting is some of the worst I've heard on the PlayStation 3. It's not for lack of trying, but the actor they hired to narrate the game is definitely not up for the task. Lines are delivered as if this is rehearsal, usually lacking any emotion or impact. You're better off muting the game and listening to your own tunes.
The bosses are also impressive, each one taking up most of the screen. There's a mechanical spider towards the end of the game that is scarier than any arachnid I've seen in Resident Evil. These boss battles are multi-part fights, which means that they'll have three or more completely unique attacks based on how much damage you've inflicted. On the other hand, these battles are made easier thanks to the checkpoint system. You rarely have to worry about your health depleting when you know that you'll be able to continue right where you left off, this time with full health.
It's worth noting that for the first two months of the game's release, Zack Zero suffered from a number of game-breaking glitches. Some were minor inconveniences, while others would literally freeze your console for simply loading a save. Thanks to a 450 MB patch, many of these problems have been resolved. You'll definitely want to grab that title update before diving in, otherwise you'll loathe the day you downloaded Zack Zero.
Unfortunately, one thing that wasn't addressed in the patch was the game's loose control mechanics. Perhaps this is a product of using the analog stick to move Zack around (2D action games are historically better when played with a D-pad) or maybe our hero is just a little too fidgety for his own good, but either way I had a lot of trouble sticking to ledges and making accurate jumps. This is the kind of thing platformers have been getting right for a quarter century, it's a shame the developers couldn't tighten up the gameplay before uploading it to Sony's server.
This isn't a bad first attempt by Crocodile Entertainment. Zack Zero has a few good ideas and incredible graphics. Sadly the gameplay feels a bit loose and the level designs are an uninspired mess. The biggest disappointment is the use (or lack thereof) of the elemental powers. Considering this is the game's gimmick, I expected more from the power suit. A lot of the puzzles feel tacked on, only there to keep you from beating the game in a quick 90 minutes. Zack Zero does have its moments, but they are few and far between.
Zack Zero stumbles through his adventure to save his beautiful girlfriend. Unfortunately, the game's puzzles are too simple and the story is never compelling. On the other hand, the graphics are incredible and there's a lot of variety to the stage backgrounds. Fans of 16-bit platformers will get a kick out of some of the concepts, but you're better off finding a Sega Genesis on eBay!
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!