Review by Saikyo Ki
"A fun and interesting shooter."
of powerups will enjoy this game thoroughly. Not only does this game give you simple, blissful, mindless destruction, it also adds a unique little twist to make things a little more exciting. This is a solid game in the TG16's lineup.
Air Zonk is the leader of a team of war robots designed to stop an army of evil robots. Yes, this does kinda sound like Mega Man, but Air Zonk's team is actually kinda neat. There's big robots, small yet powerful robots and some robots that have special types of attacks. More on Air Zonk's team below.
Before the beginning of each stage, you get to choose one of your teammates to take along with you as a sidekick (although he/she doesn't come with you right off the bat). After you do this, the action begins. Air Zonk himself is pretty powerful by himself. He's equipped with a standard rapid fire gun and special after burners on his feet which can incinerate enemies trying to hit him from behind. Air Zonk can also generate huge bombs within himself by holding down the secondary weapon button. He will charge energy within himself and eventually spit the bomb out. Air Zonk can make as many of these as he wants, but they take a while to make and it doesn't do damage until it hits the ground. Once it does, it creates a huge explosion killing all enemy robots near it and damaging bosses heavily.
Instead of cumulative powerups, each powerup is different and upgrades Air Zonk's primary attack differently. Sometimes other things about AZ are changed along with his attack. For instance, one powerup makes Air Zonk shrink AND makes him able to shoot in multiple directions, making him harder to hit and giving him more firepower. The only downside to getting this powerup is the fact that he can't make bombs while small.
When you get farther into the stage, you will be able to find an icon that, upon picking up, summons your chosen sidekick. Like in other games, when you fire, your sidekick fires. Different members of the team obviously have different types of attacks. Having your sidekick with you is obviously good, but things get really exciting when you pick up an icon that only becomes available when your sidekick is with you. When you pick up this one, you and your sidekick fuse into one fighting machine. Not only will you be able to decimate almost anything you come across, you will be able to take a lot of hits before you separate. Making it to a boss fused is a very good idea.
Enemy robots in formation are thrown at you like in most SHMUPs (SHoot eM UPs), but as you continue deeper into the stage, you will be able to fight other robots with more unique movement patterns and attacks. Simply put, bosses are...unique. They'll shower you with bullets of all shapes, sizes and colors, even on the lowest difficulty setting. I hope you know how to dodge.
Characters on screen are decently sized and well animated. Everything is also colored very well. Not everything is highly detailed per se (backgrounds and non boss enemies), but a TON of sprites can be on screen and there is absolutely no slowdown. It's very nice to see a nice smooth 60 fps with what seems to be hundreds of bullets and enemies flying every which way.
Most sound effects are standard and do the job well. Air Zonk's bomb charging sound is actually pretty cool. As for the music, it's pretty good as well. The digital channel is used to add percussion to the songs and thankfully the drum set sounds very clear, making the songs sound way better than most Genesis songs. The songs themselves are fast paced and fit the mood of this fast paced SHMUP very well.
You fly, you shoot with one button and make bombs with the other button. For your convenience, the after burner attack kicks in automatically when an enemy is in range. Not hard at all.
Replay Value: 5
This game is a challenge even on the easiest difficulty level (there's three levels). Not only will you wanna try each difficulty level, you'll wanna try each member of the team to see their attacks and the way they fuse with Air Zonk.
This is plain and simple SHMUP action with some cool variations added. Even people who aren't that much into SHMUPs can have fun with this, which is why I give it an 8.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/31/01, Updated 08/31/01
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