This week we’re back in the now familiar territory of Super Scope shooters, with a game that overly users the letter X, in the way so many things did in the early 90’s. So, is X gonna give it to ya?
Released on: SNES
Original Release Date: November 1992
Playing X-Zone makes me realise the laziness that many developers displayed when creating games for the Super Scope peripheral. Sure, there’s certainly the tried and tested template that arcade shooters like Operation Wolf did so well, but you’d hope for a game like X-Zone would break the trend somewhat.
The very first level of the game brings hope, a Mode 7-laden descent to the ground, as enemies swarm you with a torrent of missiles. It lulls you into a sense of excitement at a game that might possibly be a little different – And then you reach the second level and your expectations are immediately dashed as you’re back to the same left to right scrolling levels that every Super Scope game implements.
First impressions are everything, but count for nothing when they’re deceitful, as X-Zone shows. A computerised defence system gone wild is your ultimate antagonist, and it’s brought all of its robots and drones to play. Luckily, you’re a lone soldier inside some sort of flying assault suit, and trashing androids just happens to be your bag. Don’t expect much of a narrative here.
X-Zone is very reminiscent of Bazooka Blitzkrieg – It plays practically the same and also features an endless array of the same enemies thrown at you over and over again. But while Bazooka Blitzkrieg tried to shake things up with some interesting bosses and the occasional power-up, X-Zone is just so incredibly lazy. It’s as barebones as you could get from a light gun shooter.
But X-Zone’s biggest failing is in its difficulty. I am led to believe that this is a very short game, with only four levels split into two areas. I’m not entirely sure if that’s true or not because this is one of those games that is just incredibly difficult for all the wrong reasons. If it’s not the barrage of enemies and missiles filling the screen, it’s the reliance on enemies with machine guns that completely sap your energy. Plus, every enemy takes way too many bullets to kill.
And that’s even on Easy mode. I started off playing on Normal difficulty and made my way to the second area of the second stage, before coming up short. You have an energy bar, but no lives – Once you lose your health, you have a limited number of continues, but you’ll end up right back to the first area of your current stage, and with some really tough bosses, it’s really hard to start the next level with enough health to survive.
On Easy difficulty I fared better, reaching the second area of the third stage before failing miserably, but the difficulty problems are still there. There are few things that are more frustrating than enemies that can damage you constantly from anywhere on the screen, who don’t stop taking your health even when you’re firing at them.
Then there’s a sheer number of missiles that fly towards you at any given time, that need to be shot down before they damage you. It is impossible to avoid damage, as your expected to engage in some superhuman plate spinning of firing at incoming missiles, destroying the enemies that are launching them, and killing off the enemies that are machine gunning you to death. It is an impossible task, ensuring that only the patient will ever have a hope of finishing the game.