Zig Zag

Producer: DK Tronics
Memory required: 48K
Retail price: £6.95
Language: Machine code
Author: E. Hickman

Screenshot

Zig Zag is one of those games that provides you with some pretty sophisticated equipment, namely a Vectrakker DKT Mk II prototype fitted out with the latest in Navtraq series MD12 guidance system, electron pulse interrogator, residual plasma drive monitor, sector entry code display and junction indicators. Junction indicators?

The screen shows the control console of your Vectrakker with the sector entry code in a panel to the lower left, energy drain in a similar panel to the right, score bonus in between and the junction indicators and sector map in a long panel at the top. In between is the view through the windscreen.

The object of the game is to traverse the mazelike corridors of each of six sectors, pursue the inhabitants called Scarabaqs until you trap them in a dead end. When the Interrogator is fired at them, they give up part of a code for entry to the next sector. A second burst will kill them, which saves you chasing the same Scarabaq again, but drains energy. The sector is very simple, merely a square of corridors with a long dead end. On either side there are short dead ends along every corridor. It takes one Scarabaq to get the code to enter sector two.

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Sector two is far more complex, and each subsequent sector after that gets more complicated. In sector two you must interrogate two Scarabaqs, in sector three, three and so on. As you progress through a sector, turning this way and that, a map builds up on the screen above, with a cursor dot showing your position. The SED panel flashes red when a Scarabaq is near, and is reported verbally if you are using the Currah microspeech. Once spotted, the Scarabaq runs away from you turning corners and then waiting. The idea is to learn the sector layout and disrupt the Scarabaq’s normal retreat method to finally trap it in a short dead end when it may be ‘interrogated’. Should you select the incorrect dead end, the beast will escape and have to be chased all over again.

While this is going on, be on the watch out for hoverdroids, which flash out from a junction and fire at you, draining energy. They can be destroyed by firing the interrogator at them.

The view of the corridors of the maze is in striking three dimensions. Bonus scores for each sector drop with movement/time, but much more quickly while stationary.

Screenshot

‘Ve haff vays und meanz!’ A poor little Scarabaq is cornered and put under interrogation...

CRITICISM

‘In my opinion, Zig Zag has been worked on more for its 3D graphics (and good they are!) than its game playability. I did enjoy moving around after the victims and zapping them (or interrogating them), but they seemed rather scarce. The graphics are very impressive, with fast, smooth scrolling 3D corridors, but I found the striped verticals tended to make my eyes work overtime. Generally, the game was reasonable with fast movement and good graphics. I thought they could have made it a little more exciting though.’

Zig Zag is an unusual game. The quality of the graphics is very high which helps to make it fun to play. The corridors are described as a series of vertical black stripes ending in perspective cut off which accurately forms walls, corridor floor and the suggestion of corridors leading off to the left and right. When you turn a corner, everything scrolls round giving a very real impression of turning a corner. The Scarabaqs are also excellently done, with large 3D graphics, pounding feet, armoured backs, squealing around tight comers, and almost irresistible when cornered, with their large saucer eyes and gaping, chattering mouths. Seems a shame to shoot them! I wouldn’t say that this is a difficult game, rather more an involved and long one. It’s also a tiring one, but in a satisfying way. Highly playable, quite addictive, although I don’t know how long its attraction will really last, and in my opinion among the finest games DK Tronics have produced.’

‘The 3D effect in this game is quite fantastic, it all moves very smoothly. Chasing a Scarabaq can become extremely tiring due to the fact that the maze is made up of stripes, I don’t think this detracts from the game though. One of the most useful features is the map which is drawn as you explore a new sector, so you can retrace your footsteps. Monsters scurry very quickly through the maze trying to avoid you and take ages to catch — they are very well drawn. Other than chasing the Scarabaqs, there isn’t a lot else going on in the game but still, it remains really quite addictive to play. Sound and colour are well used and the Currah microspeech enhances the sound considerably. By the time you finish this game you feel physically as though you have run right through the maze...’

COMMENTS

Control keys: A=forward, Z=fire O/P left-right turn, or Sinclair keys, 6/7 left/right, 9=forward and 0 to fire
Joystick: Sinclair ZX 2, Kempston, DK Tronics interface
Keyboard play: highly responsive
Use of colour: very good
Graphics: excellent 3D effect, generally of a high standard
Sound: excellent
Skill levels: each sector is harder
Lives: depends on bonus or energy drain
Screens: continuously scrolling
Features: Currah Microspeech compatible
General rating: very unusual, addictive and good value.

Use of computer85%
Graphics88%
Playability85%
Getting started83%
Addictive qualities83%
Value for money84%
Overall85%

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