Zoids (Martech) Review | Computer Gamer - Everygamegoing

Computer Gamer


Zoids
By Martech
Spectrum 48K

 
Published in Computer Gamer #12

Tony Hetherington merges minds with a spiderzoid to report from the battle front in the war between the Red and Blue Zoids

Zoids

The deadly Zoid wars were reaching their terrible climax as mighty fighting machines battle for the cities of Zoidstar. One human is stuck in the middle. That human is you!

The battle between the Zoids has raged for countless years even since a meteor storm wiped out the living Zoidaryans leaving only androids to control the Zoids.

When the meteor storm struck it also isolated a battleforce of Zoids kept in space by the Zoidaryans and the Cruiser carrying them crashed on a cold icy blue moon.

These Zoids soon transformed and mutated into boiling heat gorged machines hellbent on revenge. Then, led by their leader, Redhorn the Terrible, the red Zoids returned to Zoidstar where they quickly swept the blue zoids out of the ten great cities.

Now the blue Zoids united and built Zoidzilla, a machine to challenge Redhorn. They even found a marooned earthling well known to their cunning and battle skills (you!) to merge with it and victory seemed certain until a stray enemy missile shot down the ship carrying Zoidzilla into battle. Zoidzilla was smashed into pieces which the red Zoids quickly hid in their cities.

Now you are alone between the Red Zoid cities. You find a small Spiderzoid and climb into its capsule and merge minds. Your mission is to find the pieces that once were Zoidzilla. If you manage this, Zoidzilla will be rebuilt and together you can seek out and destroy Redhorn the Terrible.

Spiderzoid

You begin the game in the command capsule of a Spiderzoid your mind merged with it by a neuro-emphatic reflex arc.

Through the screen displays the Zoid projects its experiences into your mind and through the joystick or keyboard you try to control its actions.

It is important to your survival in the game that you quickly learn to interpret the use of the icons and information that appears on the screen since this is the only view of the planet you will see. At times it seems somewhat fragmented but with practice it does provide you with a complete picture of what's going on.

The screen display consists of eight icons that can be selected by moving a cursor over them and three information windows. Selecting the icons allows you to identify enemy zoids, move between and around the cities, call up information on map features, scan the area for pieces of Zoidzilla, check your energy, damage and weapons status, fire your defensive guns, launch your offensive missiles and even call up a missile strike from blue zoid base.

Selecting any of these icons will use or display information in two of the information areas one is a bar across the bottom of the screen used to show missile and damage levels and the other a central map area which basically shows either a long range map of the area around the zoid or a more detailed short range map which even shows the position of enemy zoids that have been detected.

If you select the move icon, a cursor appears on the long range display showing your present position which can be moved in the direction you want to go. Pressing fire registers the order and the Zoid lumbers along the desired route leaving you free to examine possible targets or identify enemy zoids that are straying into range.

The third information area lies across the top of the screen and constantly displays a signal that represents the Zoids' state of mind. The signal will speed up as the Zoid feels more threatened. It's important to keep an eye on this as if the Zoids becomes particularly unnerved it will ignore your requests and retreat to a safe distance.

When you launch a missile attack on a target selected from the short range scanner you must guide the warhead through mountains and valleys to its target by following its progress on a screen that replaces the map area. Should you make a mistake and either miss the target or hit a mountain then the missile explodes harmlessly. This again requires practice as you begin your mission with only ten missiles.

Another screen appears when an enemy zoid launches a missile attack against you. This appears as a three-dimensional tunnel through which the enemy's missiles approach. Using your gun (which doesn't have any sights) you must shoot them down before they reach you as any that get through will increase the damage to the zoid by 10%.

Once you've mastered the Zoids controls you're ready to attack the cities.

The Cities

The Red Zoid territory consists of ten great city networks set in mountain ranges connected by mountain passes.

The six pieces that once was Zoidzilla are hidden in six different cities in different city networks.

There are eight cities in each city network and each is defended by a city dome which is inpenetrable to your missiles and scanners. To add to your problems there is also a radio beacon that will warn Redhorn of your attack, a mine which provides the raw materials for red zoid production, a power plant to power the city and numerous enemy zoids poised to attack you as soon as you make your move.

Your troubles are completed by the cities themselves that contain massive construction plants that build more enemy zoids to attack you that are beyond your reach under the powerful dome forcefields.

The Zoids that inhabit the city vary in strength and numbers from the small long-legged Hellrunners to the fiercesome Serpent. In between these scout and killer Zoids are the Slitheroids that carry supplies from the mine to the domes and Spinebacks that are kept on stand-by inside the domes until altered by Hellrunners.

There is also one deadly Serpent Zoid per city that patrols looking for intruders and is usually enough to handle most threats to the city. However, if you cause enough trouble then the city will use its radio beacon t summon either Mammoth the Destroyer or Redhorn himself to destroy you.

Hints

At first sight it seems impossible to destroy a single city dome even though your mission is to destroy enough of them in ten cities to find all six pieces of Zoidzilla!

Your problems are considerable and you can't afford to add to them by restarting the game every time you've been destroyed. This is because the position of the Zoidzilla pieces are different every time you play. Consequently if you manage to take out one city network only to find nothing in one game it might be a key location in the next.

The answer is to use the game's save option as soon as you've practised the Zoid's controls and then again whenever you conquer a city network. This not only avoids having to restart the game should you be unlucky enough to walk straight into Redhorn the Terrible it also fixes the locations of the Zoidzilla pieces so that you can learn from your mistakes.

However, before you can find a piece of Zoidzilla, you will have to find a way of destroying a city.

The power source of a city is also its weakness as although the power station cannot be destroyed it can be attacked. When this happens it diverts its powers to defend itself and leaves the rest of the city vulnerable. This diversion of power is only temporary so you have to act quickly.

The tactics I have found useful are to use the radio icon to call a missile strike on the power station from your base. This takes about 30 seconds to strike which gives you plenty of time to get in position, dodge zoid patrols so when the power station is hit you are ready to launch your attack.

With practice you have time to launch three missile strikes before the forcefields return. Then simply order another strike.

In the meantime you should move over the wreckage and use your scanner to check for pieces of Zoidzilla. You probably won't find one but you might find one but you might find a zoidair power pod instead that you may replenish your missiles to allow you to continue your attack.

Should you find a piece of Zoidzilla this is returned to base and, as a reward, you are merged with a new more powerful Zoid.

As you progress through the game, you will pass from Spiderzoid to Scorpozoid, Trooperzoid, Tank, Great Gorgon until finally the Mighty Zoidzilla and a battle with Redhorn the Terrible.

As you progress through the Zoids you will gain more missiles, guns and strength with which you can fight the red Zoids until then you should try and observe their patrol patterns and avoid them as a Spiderzoid against a Serpent is not an even contest.

Conclusion

Zoids is an excellent game combining the skill of a strategy game with the need for arcade reflexes.

Initially, it seems impossible to even survive for more than a few minutes but then you will gradually get used to the Zoids controls and begin your assault of the city networks.

After several attempts you'll find a piece of Zoidzilla and be merged with a more powerful zoid. Then another piece will follow and another until you meet Redhorn in battle.

The graphics are good particularly the use of windows that appear on the screen at a bewildering rate.

All this combines to form a game that will have Spectrum, C64 and Amstrad owners battling Zoids well into the night.

Zoids is published by Martech and costs £7.95 for all versions.

Tony Hetherington

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