Friday, February 07, 2020


This was FREE with my first Atari ST

Zynaps is a Nemesis-esque shoot 'em up that spookily reminds me of another Hewson title, Slayer. We pilot the Scorpion Mk1 Fighter through the heavens in search of a secret alien base. Along the way, are hoards of alien scumbag - some in ships, or a variety of ground-based defences, and even motherships. Original, right?

Update: you know, to this day I've never played Slayer. How odd is that...

Our Scorpion spaceship is pretty snazzy and comes with different levels of propulsion along with various weapon upgrades. However, we do start off quite limited with sluggish movements and firing - so shoot that first wave of bad guys to collect their loot for speed-up. Then look to improve lasers or even bombs and missiles.

The first level is cool but it's not long before a guardian appears!

That thing bounces around the screen like an old skool demo!

Shoot! Kill! Shoot some more!!

Activating these power-ups is a little strange. When a group of baddies snuffs it, they leave behind a pod. Collecting that changes the power-up being displayed in the status bar. So when something appears that you like the look of - hold down the fire button during the next pick-up to be granted permission to use it. To be fair, this is a bit weird and rather naff - especially during the heat of battle. Surely this could have been designed much better?

The enemies attack in predictable formations, which kinda reminded me of Wizball oddly enough. At first, firing accuracy is difficult so hitting the bad guys is harder than it should be. This learning curve I found to be massive and it took a number of attempts before I started to destroy an entire wave to begin collecting the pods! Sigh...

Woo! What's happened to the landscape backgrounds on the next level?

Getting past those asteroids is tough but now it's a boss fight and he's a bit weird...

Don't go. Practice makes perfect!

Most levels take you through beautiful environments whereas others might take you into an asteroid field. No matter where you are, watch out because the slightest collision loses a life which is easily done too. This is made worse by ultra-cramped areas thanks to the bulk of that scenery (and the status bar). Fly like Buck Rogers... or die.

Eventually, you will reach the end of level boss and most are really tough so it's doubtful you will see many victories on your first go! The first boss hops around the screen like a sprite from an old skool styled demo. Rarely did I see the end of the second level (without using a trainer) but, YMMV. Just don't give up, you wimp!!

Things get freaking on level 3 but it's a good kind of freaky :-)

Well, except for the boss(es). Very lame!


Zynaps is a gorgeous shoot 'em up, it really is. Sure, I know games like Xenon 2, Magic Boy, Gods, Deathbringer, and others blow it out the water but this old 1988 shooter holds its own thanks to Pete Lyon!! The title screen is wonderful - pure art - and many of the levels feature a Menacing array of beautiful environments.

But that's not all, the sprites move fast and very smooth following those incredibly difficult flight patterns. But what about the scrolling? Programmers without talent tell us the ST cannot scroll... Well, don't worry because it's nigh-on perfect and very smooth so feels great during gameplay. Yep, this is another quality Hewson product.

Things get a little Menacing for the fourth level - which looks stunning - if deadly. I never beat it...


Zynaps theme tune is outstanding thanks to the talent of one of my favourite musicians, Dave Rogers: a man responsible for many of my ZX Spectrum memories, not to mention ST beauties like Ranarama and Cybernoid.

Okay, the sound effects might pale in comparison to the music but they're still excellent and offer an arcade-like style which I really admire. I love that sharp "zing-zing" when you shoot, the crunchy death effect, and how you are mocked when it's game over. Like the visuals, a lot of love went into the audio which is brilliant.

The Crypto'pinion

Zynaps is one of those games which appears to have it all but many give up after a few goes because of a cruel learning curve. Perhaps gamers were tougher people back then? Possibly, but this is a killer with relentless action so you're always on the edge of your seat wondering what's coming next. The method of using power-ups might be flawed but these are essential to enhance your Scorpion with better firepower and manoeuvrability.

Hewson rarely disappoints and Zynaps is yet another corker from their incredible library. Sure, I've had a moan about a few things but nothing is perfect so I can forgive - because of the Can-I-have-one-more-go. Very addictive!! What an extraordinary shoot 'em up and it's a great feeling to end my Super Pack series on a massive high.

Grab the floppies if you dare but I recommend these excellent HD versions by Klaz and PP.


  1. Thanks mate for this comprehensive review. On the whole zynaps is a good game although a bit tough for average players.

    1. I agree for those killer later levels but you gotta use those power-ups wisely. It's stupid how they design this part but getting better movement and firing is essential - and then try to get rockets or bombs. It's doable matey.

  2. Great review! Longer than normal and worth it.

  3. I should train more then 😉