Just when I was beginning to feel that the left-to-right scrolling R-Type game format had been done to death, Zynaps comes along and proves me completely and utterly wrong by proving that there's still life in the age-old genre. Hewson's latest is one of the most colourful and certainly one of the most enjoyable shoot 'em ups yet to appear. If you can cast your mind back about nine months or so, you'll remember that Zynaps, programmed by Graftgold boys Dominic Robinson and John Cumming caused quite a stir on the 64 when it was first released, and scooped a number of accolades, a CU Screen Star (most importantly).
Zynaps is very much in the same mould as games such as IO and Nemesis. The basic idea is to fly a spaceship through a series of left-to-right scrolling levels, shooting aliens and accumulating extra weapons as you go. The scrolling is set at a fixed rate, so you can't bottle out and head back half way through if the going gets too heavy (which it invariably does).
The aliens that attack don't just float around the screen any old how. Each wave has it's own specific attack pattern, the most common being a bouncing caterpillar-type string of nasties. Unlike R-Type or Nemesis however, the order of the attack waves isn't preset and so there's no way of telling what kind of aliens will be the next to arrive on screen. As usual, disposing of them is just a matter of shooting them. The trouble is, the laser you're given at the start is a rather pitiful little weapon, and there's no way you could possibly get through the entire game without trading it in for something a bit deadlier. This is done by shooting a wave of marauding aliens, which leaves behind a glowing power-pod. Collecting this with the fire button held down will activate the weapon currently depicted in the status display. If you want to advance to higher levels of weapon, however, the way to go about it is to collect a few pods without the fire button held down. Each time you do this, the 'current weapon' icon will advance to the next in line. When the one you want appears, just make sure the fire button is down when you collect the next capsule.
There are about five power-ups available, including the obligatory speedup and bomb, and my personal fave, the super homing missile, which appears at the end of the weapons list. Collect a couple of these, and you've got virtually nothing to worry about. "By 'eck, them ...ers don't mess about, do they?" said big Nigel Taylor, CU's Yorkshire pudding of an Adman as several extremely lethal missiles burnt across the screen, locking on and burning to a crisp every alien mutha on the screen in one go.
Each level is about eighty squillion screens long (well at least that's what it seems like) and guess what lurks at the end of each one... Yes, you got it, a big mean mothership. Actually, they aren't that much of a problem to wipe out, as long as you can survive the bullets and mines they throw at you long enough. When the mothership finally blows, your score is given a quick boost and you progress to the next level. There are about 14 in all, and begin to reach the 'eat your own underpants' degree of difficulty at about level four, when the game area starts to get so amazingly narrow that it's hard enough to get through even without any aliens!
Zynaps is terrific. It's certainly the best of the Nemesis bunch so far, boasting some exquisite backdrops and sprites, particularly in the later stages and credit must go to the talented Pete Lyon for designing them.
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