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Monday, 22 March 2010

Unsung Classics. Number 7: Z (Commodore 64)

It's time for another in that ever-popular series, Unsung Classics. Again, it's a Commodore 64 game... no surprise, because I've played loads more of them than any other system's games. I've got plenty lined up for the future, too... and another new feature I'm working on...

Z (or Z-Pilot in the US, apparently) is a top-down shooter, in the vein of Time Pilot, or more accurately, Time Pilot '84. It's set across four zones, or dimensions, and the object is to get to the fourth dimension and destroy the control ship.


Normally, I like a game of darts...

Each zone is filled with alien ship that are trying to stop you. Unlike the Time Pilot games, you're not constantly on the move here... you can stop and take stock of what's going on around you, which is quite welcome.

After a while, you'll see a bomb floating around. You have to shoot the yellow bomb container, then swoop in and collect the bomb. Bombs are used, in the first three dimensions, to blast holes in the portal that takes you to the next dimension. The more holes you make, the easier it is to fly through the moving barrier and into the portal.


You're sitting by the portal as a bomb floats by. Grab it!

Make it to the fourth dimension, and you'll have the chance to destroy the control ship. You'll need to collect at least five bombs for this... I say "at least", because the control ship is evil, and it's fast, and it will chase you around the level mercilessly. There's a fair chance that you'll miss with at least one bomb, so you'll need a decent supply to be sure you can finish the job... if you survive long enough. This level is more like Time Pilot meets Sinistar.

Z is a heck of a lot of fun. It's fast, smooth and quite a rush, particularly as you progress through the levels and the enemies get more and more vicious. Having to use the space bar for the bombs is a pain, but just adds to the nervous tension, particularly when that control ship is chasing you around. I don't think many people got to play Z in its day... I really enjoyed it then, and it's still a good shooter even now.

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