Most of the time, when games of below average quality are reviewed, there are things found that somehow redeem the game. If they do have some notably good qualities, then it’s the badness that gives them character. Sometimes though, you find that one title which doesn’t have much redeeming features to help the bitter pill be swallowed more easily.
Zack Zero has the usual save-the-princess premise that we’ve all known since prehistoric times, and Zack the space ranger must do whatever he can to save his girl from the evil Zulrog and stuff. Even the best platformers in recent years have the same story, like Super Meat Boy. It’s now a trope for retro-style games that is like finely grated parmesan cheese on well-made marinara sauce for your pasta. However, how this particular game tells that story is not that good.
Perhaps the selling point of the game is the elemental mechanic, stemming from Zack’s suit. You can change between fire, ice, and rock powers that work with the rock-paper-scissor mechanic that you can use against enemies in the game. You get stronger by collecting orbs throughout the levels, and each of them gives you unique abilities that let you get past obstacles, like rock for lifting heavy ones out of the way and ice for slowing down those that you can’t move.
Other than those mechanics, it’s a regular platformer with running, jumping, and attacking, which isn’t bad at all at first. Traditional gameplay is all about the execution and polish, which a lot of other developers do get. However, when you start playing it, you realize that movement is rough, the controls aren’t as responsive as you’d hope, and the combat itself is far from solid. The gameplay is inconsistent and has too many things wrong in its design, making for a lot of weird things happening as you play.
Visually, Zack Zero is alright at first in terms of its aesthetics, and some people may even like its use of bright colors, while others may think that it’s all obnoxious and eyeball-searing. This game is obviously going for the comic book style, but it’s not done very well here and makes only for more reasons to criticize the game. The bright colors only make it worse by accentuating what makes the whole thing look particularly bad.
The story isn’t written or told very well, to say the least. It’s nonsensical and hard to follow, and most of what you can make sense of the plot is told through sparse cutscenes that just serve as downtime in between levels. The voice acting doesn’t help either as the narrator being rather painful to listen to. The soundtrack fits the gameplay though, so it’s not a total loss in terms of Zack Zero’s aural experience. This is all topped off by glitches and freezes all over the place, making it nigh unplayable and quite infuriating. The pop-ups in the middle of the game are just nuts, constantly interrupting the flow of whatever is left in the gameplay.
There is little that saves this game, and some may even argue that there’s nothing at all. Even with a sale, this game gives little to no reason for gamers to give it a try. In the end, there’s little appeal in Zack Zero, which makes the name rather fitting. If it were a mobile game, then all of these faults would have been quite excusable. However, this is for the PlayStation Network and PC, so there’s little to no saving grace then.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 4/10