reviews\ Dec 25, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Zapper - PC - Review

Zapper is a cricket, but not just your run-of-the-mill ordinary bug. He is fast, can really leap and his antennae fire off a high-voltage charge that can be devastating.

Oh, and he has his own video game.

Zapper, a PC release from Infogrames and Blitz Games, is not the most sophisticated arcade-action game you have ever seen. In fact, it is a little simplistic, but what the game lacks in depth, it makes up for in charming animation and colorful, lush environments.

Maggie the Magpie is a greedy bird who likes to decorate her nest with shiny baubles. She steals from throughout Zapper’s world, and leaves behind her spotted eggs, which will eventually hatch into more magpies. One day, the thieving bird made a wee bit of a mistake. She mistook Zapper’s younger brother, Zipper, for such a bauble and snatched him right from Zapper’s outstretched hand. Well, needless to say, that really bugs this insect, so much so that he is undertaking a mission to rescue his brother and make the magpie pay.

In order to do so, Zapper must cross through his world to Maggie’s nest. The land is fraught with simplistic puzzles that must be navigated. On each level, Zapper will have to free fireflies, uncover secrets and power-ups, and hop (and super-hop) his way throughout the variety of enemies there to waylay him.

Each level (there are 18) is completed when Zapper smashes all six of Maggie’s eggs, which are scattered or hidden around the level.

The game does have a linear path through the level. Once you complete it, you may try some side trips to free fireflies, or uncover secrets, but the basic path through is the same – and it gets easier with each successive foray into the world.

The control elements are simple as well, with the keyboard the primary controller (though you can map a gamepad to the game).

The game’s sound is typically arcade-like, while the graphical elements are wonderful. Zapper is cute, the special effects are well done, and the environments are wonderful.

While this game seeks its own identity with the storyline (and you can also play the levels in straight arcade mode, which is basically a set-the-fastest time exercise) and principle characters, this could be viewed as a three-dimensional arcade program that borrows liberally from some of the classic games, such as Pac Man and Frogger.

Zapper is a game that may appeal to younger players, certainly not curmudgeonly gamers who want something a little unique and challenging.

This game is rated for Everyone.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 6
Simplistic, linear levels sport easy map puzzles. The goal is not so much to free fireflies, as it is to destroy eggs, and zip through the levels.

Graphics: 8
The animation is solid, the special effects are very good and the environments are wonderful.

Sound: 6.5
This game could have done a lot more with the sound elements rather than settle for the mundane and average that is the hallmark of some arcade games.

Difficulty: Easy
This game is not much of a challenge. The arcade gaming mode is a rerun of the storyline, only on a level-by-level basis.

Concept: 6.5
This game has been ported to many different platforms, and –at least on the PC – fails to take full advantage of the technology. It is a simple maze run.

Multiplayer: N/A

Overall: 6.5
Zapper has some nice qualities but is more a throwback game than a unique experience. Younger players may like the simplistic style of play (those who missed the heyday of classic arcade games on big machines that ate quarters like candy), but older game players should shy away from this title.

Above Average

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