Rising Zan


Review by Greg Wilcox



Graphics: 6

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 8

Japanese developer Uep Systems (Cool Boarders 1 & 2), has come up with perhaps the most original Playstation action game in quite a while, Rising Zan. When I read the back cover of the game case, my eyes rolled so far back I could see myself thinking: "This is really going to stink!" but I decided to give it a try anyway. If anything, I’d have a really good time writing up a nice review blasting this to pieces. It turns out that RZ is one of those games that keeps you playing not only because it doesn't take itself seriously at all, you HAVE to keep playing just to see what's around the next corner. It's a combination of good, bad and ugly rolled into a very playable, very fun package.

The first thing that caught my eye was the intro movie. It reminded me of one of those inane UPN action shows, complete with a terrible theme song! My eyes rolled again, but then, some Old West-style music started warbling away while a voice right out of a Saturday morning western related the tale of young Johnny, who has what you or I would call a particularly bad day. Upon attempting to defeat a samurai with only his trusty six-gun, he wakes up scarred and lucky to be alive. After a bit of training in the Far East, Johnny returns to the states with a katana to go along with his gun, and a new name: Zan! Now, he's a one man revenge squad set on cleaning up a baddie filled one horse town, getting the girls, and living happily ever after.

It's absolutely ridiculous, but this is the type of game where you throw all expectations out the nearest window, sit back with your controller and dig what the programmers have in store for you. Actually you’ll be on the edge of your seat, because RZ has no dull moments- just lots of action and more out and out laughs than almost any game I’ve played. After a brief, but thorough training area, you’ll go through 10 levels that combine ninja slashing and target shooting, along with some cool “All Button Event” areas that just might destroy quite a few controllers due to all the punishment they’ll take. You also have to rescue prisoners, use your sword to “helicopter” around or over pits, and just plain raise hell when you meet some of the wildest-looking bosses in a video game. Some aren’t so hard to beat, but figuring out their patterns may take a life or three the first time through.

Zan can collect and use sheriff stars as power-ups during the game; the more stars that you collect, the bigger the effect. For example, you can get hyper-speed, which lets you run about and slash everything for a limited time without taking any damage, while another power-up makes your sword grow to a super-long size that has to be seen to be believed! After you defeat the level bosses, you’re treated to Zan’s theme song (“Super Sexy Hero”), which will have you laughing out loud every time it's played. In fact, all the music in this game fits like a glove- it's a mixture of Western and Asian tunes that blends perfectly with all the frantic action.

The graphics are decent, but if you're weaned on the PS2, Cube, or Xbox, you'll be wincing when you see the game initially. While there's some glitching, clipping and texture warping here and there, I’ve noticed that many Playstation games have less than perfect graphics, but fun gameplay makes up for a lot of these blemishes. Rising Zan is no exception, but you’ll be having so much fun that you’ll forgive almost any error, with the exception of the game's camera, which is a total beast at times. It has the annoying tendency to swing around and face you, rather than the enemy when you’re in a small room! Fortunately, you can adjust the camera manually most of the time and run like hell out of the corners anyway, as they're deathtraps when bosses start throwing fireballs like mad.

The folks at Uep definitely had a blast programming this game, and you have to love their mixing of two cultures and film genres into one of the oddest games ever for the PS One. I'm actually hoping that this character doesn't fade away, as it would be nice to see a graphically superior sequel on a system that can fit his big ego and super-sexy heroics. Rising Zan is one of those games to pick up, play, and have a blast with while you wonder why most US developers can’t be as creative.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:30 PM