Atari 2600

Review by Joe Santulli



Graphics: 5

Sound: 5

Gameplay: 4

Overall: 4

ztack.gif (3518 bytes)There are a bunch of games for the Atari 2600 that either because of limited distribution or bad timing (didn't see that crash coming!) didn't make it into the hands of many gamers. In some cases, that' s unfortunate - there are some real gems among the rarities, like Parker Bros' excellent Q*Bert's Qubes or the ill-fated River Patrol by Tigervision. But most of these "unknowns" aren't really worth knowing about at all. This little dog came courtesy of a similarly little known manufacturer named Bomb, whose sole impression on the world of videogaming seems to be that their games are next to impossible to find.

At first glance, Z-Tack appears to be some kind of spin-off of Imagic's popular shooter Atlantis. Closer inspection (press reset) reveals, however, that it is more of a "Bizarro" Atlantis - YOU are the flying saucer, and you have to destroy the installations below. Typical of most shooters on the 2600, you can have only one bullet in the air at a time, and the same goes for the enemy, who shoots back from below. Knock out all of the installations and the next wave appears, firing faster than before.

By the third wave, the enemy bullets become skull-and-crossbones icons that are deadly to the touch and remain on-screen for about two seconds. By the fifth wave, the skull-and-crossbones become missiles that fire horizontally in your direction. By the seventh wave, it's just impossible to slip inbetween enemy bullets to get a shot in, which is unfortunate because without this sudden mountain of difficulty the game wouldn't be half bad. There are several other problems with the game, like the fact that you can only score points for destroying installations but not for the skull-and-crossbones or missiles you blow up. And the fact that your ship is just a little too big and can't fire at any angles, making that difficulty so very real when things are moving around quickly.

There is one positive point, besides the fact that the game is OK for those first six waves or so: the sound of the incoming missile is truly alarming. How often has a 2600 game gotten YOUR attention? Don't fret over not owning Z-Tack (I can't find it either, my copy is on the TV Boy system) - it's really not the kind you'd play with anyway.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:37 PM