Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
RGD 3/26/06 Zero Wing-MegaDrive
DB Link: http://www.consolecity.com/games.php..._id-16716.html
"How are you gentlemen. All your base are belong to us !! You are on the way to destruction. You have no chance to survive make your time."
- Cats, Zero Wing
About the game:
ship in distress. Cryptic taunts by the enigmatic villain known only as Cats. The captain of the doomed ship's final, desperate order to "Take off every 'Zig' !!" Yes, it's Zero Wing! Toaplan's attempt at a Gradius/R-Type-style side-scrolling space shooter might have been doomed to obscurity if not for one of the most hilariously mistranslated "Japenglish" introduction sequences in videogame history. Instead, it became a nationwide fad. From its own semi-official Web site to the pages of Time magazine, the "All Your Base" fad is nigh omnipresent. Perhaps the first true geek catchphrase of the new millennium.
So you know the intro, but what do you know about Zero Wing the game?
Originally released as an obscure arcade title in 1989, Zero Wing is, at first glance, a serviceable if undistinguished shooter. Your goal is to pilot your lone Zig fighter to rid the galaxy of the standard freaky aliens and marauding robots. Perhaps slightly less difficult than most games in the genre, its primary innovation is a tractor beam-like secondary weapon which allows you to grab hold of enemy ships and either use them as shields or fling them back at other enemies. This is pretty much Zero Wing's sole innovation, but it is a welcome one. There's just something viscerally satisfying about grabbing hold of Annoying Enemy Ship #697 and using it to clobber Annoying Enemy Ship #698.
There are three separate weapons available for your trusty Zig. Your default ship's gun (tiny red-orange bullets), a blue laser beam, and homing shots. All represent fairly common shooter power-up archetypes. Nothing new here. In a touch taken from Gradius, you can also acquire a pair of "option" pods which flank your ship and mirror all your shots, essentially tripling your firepower and providing cover from enemy shots. Unoriginal, but highly useful. The standard speed-increasing power-ups are also present. Rounding out your arsenal are "Super Bombs" which, as you may have guessed, have the effect of destroying most on-screen enemies when detonated.
Zero Wing is fairly long for a shooter, with eight unique levels, and there's a good amount of variety among them, even though they are mostly comprised of the same cliché settings shared by most all space shooters: Deep space, asteroid field, high-tech battleship, organic, and so on.
The music and graphics are pretty much what you would expect from any given arcade shooter originating in the late '80s. Nice, clean sprites and mindless, adrenaline-pumping beats. Overall, Zero Wing plays more like R-Type than anything else, with a leisurely rate of scrolling. However, many of the enemies, and especially some bosses, are much more reminiscent of Konami's Gradius. If these two classic shooters somehow got drunk and managed to couple up in a seedy motel room, I imagine the unintended offspring of such a union might bear a startling resemblance to Zero Wing.
Two years later, in 1991, Toaplan developed a version of Zero Wing for the then-popular Sega Megadrive (overseas version of the Genesis). The resulting port is what actually accounts for the game's notoriety, as it contains the infamous "All Your Base" intro. The original arcade version had no such scene.
Overall, the Megadrive version is a very solid translation. The graphics took a noticeable hit, of course, with less color and smaller sprites all around. Other than that, it's remarkably close to arcade version in most other respects.
So why play Zero Wing? Well, since it is, for the most part, a shameless retread of other, more well-known shooters, you could definitely do better. On the other hand, if you're not in the market for anything groundbreaking and just crave some mindless alien blasting, you could do a whole lot worse.
Mostly, though, so that the next time you proclaim that "All your base are belong to us," you'll at least know what you're talking about. Kinda...