Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Zone Warrior

Wanna be a Timecop?

I love platform shooters and this one was developed in 1991 by Imagitec Design Ltd for Electronic Arts. The storyline is simple - once again, pesky aliens are giving us Earthlings lots of grief. They have managed to pinch a time machine and are using that to alter history and wreak havoc by taking crucial hostages from each period in an attempt to halt their influence. From the invention of the wheel to England's King Arthur uniting the Britains and Japan's technical wizardry.

Yep, we cannot allow this - the fight is on. So, brace yourself because it's our job to travel the various time zones and rescue everybody we can. Thus saving the timeline and protecting our future. Whilst there, we may as well kill each and every bad dude that gets in our way. Yup, it's time to save the day again so let's lock and load!!

Before we begin, check out this screenshot and tell me what other run & gunner it reminds you of...

Pick-ups are pretty cool but something like the Map parts is essential for this huge platformer!!

Are you ready for a challenge?

Zone Warrior is a MASSIVE horizontally scrolling platformer that reminded me of Psygnosis' Baal in looks with (more than) a hint of Turrican-style action. Each zone is a labyrinth of large rooms interconnected by a series of complicated doorways. There is a total of five timezones that need to be saved from the dreaded aliens and they are:

  • Prehistoric - I really enjoyed this zone because it introduces you nicely into the gameplay style plus there are lots of power-ups and strong map designs compared to most other levels. I also thought the graphics were the best here with great use of the palette.
  • Egyptian - This is is little disappointing for me because it's basically more of the same design but with a different graphics. However, I found it to be a lot harder and rather frustrating instead of anything close to an enjoyable challenge...
  • Medieval - Saving the medieval Britons from their alien fate is a brilliant level and definitely on par with the Prehistoric Zone. I must admit, the music here is so gorgeous!
  • Japanese - I would rate this as the best level of all because it is really challenging, with some great mechanics. Unlike the finicky Egyptian Zone, I found it tough but without the frustration. And the chipmusic is out of this world!!
  • Holocaust - Sadly I didn't care for this zone... Very frustrating and ultimately annoying!

Travelling through most zones is a neat experience with constant action to keep your trigger finger happy. During this onslaught, look for hostages to free and a key for a final battle before you can progress to the next zone.

Each of these periods has its own nasties to contend with and some cannot be killed so avoid them - like the Venus flytraps and sharp spikes. However, most have legs or teeth so have your trusty Turrican-inspired weapon at the ready. This is a rapid-firing gun that performs well and can even be upgraded with a wider spread. Also, the spacebar is used to cycle through any extra weapons you may have picked up like bombs and mines. Experiment but use wisely.

Okay, let's check out another screenshot of Tur...Erm, no, I meant Zone Warrior...

I really enjoyed the prehistoric levels with dinos and cool methods used to avoid them!


The visuals aren't the best I've seen from my lovely Atari ST which isn't due to their quality but the lack of variety. The backdrops are nice but could have made better use of the palette for things like destructible blocks. Most sprites are well-drawn and detailed, especially the stripy dinos from the Prehistoric Zone. The scrolling is very good and perfectly responsive to our hero's fast/leaping movements, which is obviously essential to a running-gunner-shooter like this.

Overall, the Medieval and Japanese zones looked the best, I thought. Sexy visuals!

The audio is a blast with great sound effects used throughout. However, it's the music I really loved because everything is composed by Barry Leitch who created a wealth of fantastic chiptunes. Show-stompingly brilliant audio!!

Variety is certainly the spice of life <sarcasm incoming> so if you like yellow, you will love this next screenshot...

The graphics and music may change but the gameplay is pretty darn familiar for each level...

The CryptO'pinion?

The trouble with Zone Warrior is that it's all too easy to lose your bearings. The levels are absolutely huge and wandering from "room to room" can be overwhelming. This is also due to the lack of distinctive visuals so each region begins to feel repetitive. Thankfully, our little zone warrior can collect pieces of a map to help prevent him from getting lost but I personally thought this was poorly implemented. Yes, I lost my bearings... a lot... and that spoilt the fun somewhat.

Okay, with a little more variation in the graphics, to help distinguish between the locations, this would have knocked the spots of other platform shooters. This is a great game with interesting mechanics and incredibly responsive joystick controls. Okay, it might whiff of cheap Turrican perfume but I must say I have really enjoyed being a Zone Warrior.

Yep, Zone Warrior is a fantastic shooter and comes highly recommended by yours truly. Play it!!

 Update: we now have a hard drive installable game thanks to Peter @8BitChip.
 Stonish has the floppy disk download thanks to the Fuzion #80 disk :-)


  1. It's a pretty decent Turrican rip off. The main character animates closer to the Amiga Turrican.