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Zap!2000 (Palm) April 25, 2000

This review will focus on the color version of Zap!2000. Zap!2000 by Astraware is the game by which all other color games will be judged, period. The object of the game is to kill all the aliens on the level and defeat a boss at the end. You are provided one shield per life, and you can pick up power-ups to increase your fire power, add more shields, or a nuke that will obliterate just about everything on the screen.

The color in Zap!2000 is the best in the industry. The background images are stunning and add tremendously to the game. If you experience a slow down (I didnít) you can turn off the levels of detail. The detail is presented in three levels, Bottom, Middle, and Top. Bottom is the Background nebula, Middle is the sides of the levels, and Top is the pieces that extend across the screen for your ship to fly under. If you disable all background images, you basically have a fast version of Galaga (80ís arcade game). I do not recommend disabling the images, I found no noticeable slow down that would warrant this action.

The sound in Zap!2000 is first rate. The sound effects are fitting and professionally done. The sound is just enough to be appropriate, but it isnít over the top as to detract from the game. The ability to mute the sound is included in the game, as well as a Quiet and Loud mode. The difference between Quiet and Loud modes is Quiet does not produce as many sounds, but the volume level appeared to be the same. I normally hate to compare one game to another, but I do have one suggestion for improvement in the sound department. I would like to see the sound in ZAP!2000 implemented the same as in Astroids, another Astraware product. In Astroids you can switch the sound level on the pause screen. This is incredibly handy. If you want to mute the sound, simply put the game on pause and change the setting right on the screen.

ZAP2000!ís controls are completely customizable. I switched the fire button and the thrust button so that I could hit the shield button better in a pinch. The controls are great and fit into the game nicely. I much prefer the "1 and a half" axis for movement to the typical 2 axis for movement. By this, I mean you have one full axis, left and right, and half of the vertical, thrust up. The down control happens naturally with gravity. This is much better than the trend in Palm games to use full vertical movement, and try to map this to the page up and page down keys. This is awkward in my opinion.

The game play in Zap!2000 is nothing short of incredible. The full version consists of five levels, with a boss at the end of each level. The first two levels are your typical space game shoot-em-ups. The third level is a meld of space and ocean as you must defeat jellyfish and fish as they fly at you in various directions. On this level, the nuke becomes available, a truly awesome weapon. The boss for the third level is a shellfish that spawns other jellyfish and fires a line of bullets that are very difficult to dodge. The fourth level is an insect world. The creatures are all spiders and flies. One cool enemy is a web that if it touches you, it will wrap up your ship for a small amount of time, leaving you defenseless until it eventually removes itself. The boss for the fourth level is a large spider that lunges at you and spawns other spiders, and webs, that you must defend yourself against. The fifth level is a nebula star world with space ships and aliens comparable to the first two levels. This level is very challenging indeed. The other levels have between 90-150 creatures per level. The fifth level boasts an astounding 300 enemies! This level is hard! The fifth boss is actually a pair of bosses. The boss starts out as a mother ship with a laser comparable to the space station on the second level. After you defeat this enemy it will shed its skin to become a faster, meaner version. I must admit that I was unable to get to this boss without cheating, I had to do it for the sake of the review :)

So, what is wrong with this game you might ask? Well, I was able to dig up three MINOR gripes with the game. First, the game has three levels of difficulty, Slow, Medium, and Fast. Unfortunately, they donít seem to make a difference. I was able to consistently advance to the same area whether the game was on Easy or Hard. Second, if you pause the game and press a key, the application exits and takes you to the application specified by the button. I would prefer that the button removes the pause so you can continue playing. I found it awkward at times to press the screen and then get my hands ready if the game was paused in the heat of action. Third, no export feature to the web site. Again, to compare the game to Astroids, which allows an export of a high score to keep a master list on the web site. This would be perfect for this type of game.

I have had limited dealings with David Oakley at Astrware, but I give the company high praise as well. I had some difficulty receiving the full color version from Palm Gear. This was quickly resolved by Astraware. In addition, the application is updated on a regular basis (version 1.12 at this writing) to correct bugs, and add users requests.

In summary, Zap!2000 is THE game for your Palm. It has great graphics, sound, and game balance. This game will provide many hours of enjoyment.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Title: Zap!2000
Publisher: Astraware
Summary: Whatís not to like?! All color games should have this level of polish.
Highs: In a word, EVERYTHING!
Lows: Difficulty adjustment doesnít make much difference, no high score export to web site

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