Review by Apathy000
Like Thunder Force II's Overhead Section Only Done Right!
Zugya is a shooter made in 1996 by Sprite for the Japanese X68000. You can freely roam in the ship from an overhead view in a map with wrap-around, meaning if you go off the map on the left side you will go on to the right side of the map. This type of shooter is very similar to portions of Thunder Force II, although where TFII utterly failed, Zugya excels.
Game Play (9/10)
The object of the game is to defeat all the enemies on the map within 99 seconds. The time limit makes things more interesting, but rarely will you ever be pressed for time except in the last couple of levels where you might want to take things a bit slower. The enemies themselves are quite unique. Based around a single vulnerable core exist modules that have different functions. Some modules only fire slow bullets at you, some have a flexible arm that shoots a very fast bullet at you, and some spawn tiny enemies to try and kill you. The most desirable module is one that holds a power-up. In order to get the power-up you have to destroy the module and go over the letter P which is ejected outward before destroying the core of the enemy. If you destroy the core every module dies, but no power-up is ejected from the module with the power-up.
The weapon system for Zugya becomes may appear complicated, but it is actually simple. At the start there is a basic shot that fires two little shots, but by getting the "P" power-up from a white enemy module with a red triangle on it you can upgrade it. Acquiring a "P" adds another 2 bullets. The power-up does not truly upgrade your basic weapon, what it does is that is adds another wave of bullets you fire with 2 more bullets in it than the previous wave. If you are at max strength, at level 6, you will fire 6 different waves. The first wave is the basic 2 bullets, the second wave has 4 bullets, and so on until you get to the 6th level with 12 bullets, and then the sequence repeats. Of course the sequence repeats very quickly so it is hard to it, but this is what happens. The weapon upgrades have another use as well. They act as a second shield. If you have a weapon greater than the basic level 1 weapon then it will save your life and revert to level 1. A very good reason to have the upgraded weapon besides more firepower.
The ship has a regenerating Plasma bar that charges as you hold the fire button. I find this a little clunky since once you hold the fire button you cannot change the direction your ship is facing unless you release the fire button. However, releasing the fire button will decrease your Plasma charge if it is not at full charge. When the Plasma charge reaches max a shield forms around your ship that will save you from one hit, or you can release the fire button and become invincible and can destroy enemies by ramming into them. Once your shield is hit, or you use your invincible attack the Plasma charge reverts to having no charge. You can use your booster at any time during all of this as well.
The graphics look sharp and clear, but the game is long and there are so many re-used sprites. Also the background is the exact same thing for 50 levels. Nice looking background, but it should have been different some of the time.
Music and Sound (7/10)
Quite good music and sound in Zugya, I will give them that. Like with the graphics, I find that they re-use the music tracks far too much. There are only 5 main tracks, and the game will switch to another track every 10 levels. So much repetition gets boring.
The game is not hard, not at all. The default setting is to give you 9 lives with 9 credits, 81 lives in other words. I beat it on my first try, and I only died 10 times. You can also get 1 ups through points, although it seems you need truly massive points to get them. For example, the first extra life is at a very large 2,036,550 points. The game is also lenient in the hit box of the ship, it sometimes seems that lasers can go right through you if they do not hit the center of the ship.
Zugya's amount of stages is also quite impressive, a nice 50 stages until the ending credits. While the length makes you feel like you can get more out of the game the reality is a little different. The levels are slight variations of each other with consecutive levels being slightly harder than the previous ones. Every couple of levels for the first 20 or so levels they add a new, more difficult module. I think the game would have felt complete if there were only half as many levels.
I am willing to forgive a heck of a lot as long as the game play is great, and Zugya's game play is excellent. It is always interesting to see games that come out late in a system's life since they usually end up being very good games. Zugya is one of these games that came out a bit too late to become well-known, but I firmly believe it would have been had it come out 4-7 years earlier.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Zugya (JP, 12/31/96)
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