Remember an arcade game called Side Arms? It was a horizontally-scrolling shoot 'em up for one or two players, where you flew fellas in suits across the landscape blasting all and sundry, and collecting bolt-on power-ups to upgrade your weaponry. It was an alright blaster, if nothing special.
Hey! Didn't I see you in Delta?
The Commodore 64 version, though, was a bit rubbish. And then, from out of nowhere and from an unassuming little budget software house, came a game called Zybex. It was the first release from Zeppelin Games, and it was a hell of a way to announce their arrival.
Zybex is a one or (simultaneous!) two-player game that sees you blasting your way across sixteen worlds. You always begin your game on the first world, Arcturus, but if you can get to the end, you can choose any of the levels from two to twelve in any order. It's an excellent progression system, and it almost guarantees that you won't get bored. You can also spend a bit of time figuring out a preferred route... it's likely that you'll find some worlds easier than others.
Aargh! UFOs! Kill them all!
A horizontally-scrolling shoot 'em up would be nothing without extra weapons though, and Zybex has plenty. Shooting certain enemies will release these weapons, five in total, and picking up more than one will increase the power of that weapon. Again, it's a great system, with some weapons working better on some enemies, meaning you'll need to switch on the fly, or you can develop your own playing style. Careful though... if you die, you'll lose a power level from the weapon you were using at the time...
This world is called Diablos. Oddly, it's not that difficult.
As you progress, you'll need to keep an eye out, as the only way you can access levels thirteen to sixteen is by collecting tokens that can be found throughout the levels. They're not that difficult to spot, they look totally different from anything else in the game.
Zybex is a tough game, but a really fun one. Even unlocking one of the later levels takes a heck of a lot of doing, but you'll have a good time trying. Again, this is a game I owned and loved back in the day, and it didn't disappoint when I played it again. Another tremendous bargain at £1.99.