the essence of zack zero is awkwardness. completely, though with degrees, frustratingly. I do believe the entire work is misguided. somehow, I still believe it is based on a love of videogames, but its process of modernization only offered oversights and misinterpreted tropes. to point it out basically, crocodile entertainment struggled with the basics of their game. controlling zack in the air is lacking entirely in finesse. either right or left moves zack very quick and much too far through the air. to complete most jumps, you’ll need to alternate between left and right so you can stay centered. usually this occurs in platformers that retain momentum, but zack zero has no aerial momentum to speak of. this careless implementation makes platforming more busy than it actually demands and kills its organics. the core problem demonstrates a lack of awareness that, at least, is consistently inhibited in other areas as well. however, the game is not without merit. its environment design exhibits a convincing technical competence and obvious visual excellency.
the pallette, visual direction, and quality of models are rather impressive. most especially the pallette, zack zero is uniquely bright and colorful. a bright, saturated, bordering cel-shaded platformer, it certainly wins out on first impression. any given scene in the game is delightful, at least especially, when not in motion. as for the execution of the 3D in general, a trine comparison is an exact science. a trine foil can carry too, both games have a talent in visual design to make you stand up and say “wow is this really indie?” (through irony; indies containing excellent 3D have been relatively commonplace, we still enjoy the disparaging perceptions). yet, still like trine, there isn’t much of a visionary execution. their gorgeous assets are liberally applied to reproduce a world of cliche. trine is, however, more comfortable with its setting, and achieves an otherworldly effect to a much fuller degree than zack zero. that saying, trine doesn’t even strive to make its world especially otherworldly, I would use the word fantastical, so the obvious fault of zack zero is demonstrated.
zack zero’s beginning sequence of levels does have an offworld impact. it’s not truly alien or anything like that, but a normalized sci-fi influence at least shines through. the planet seems to be an arid jungle, inwhich is the nonstandard appeal. altogether, it’s expressive and effective. to a general degree, anyway. never does this game go above and beyond. the after locations are metallic bases and underground caves nigh exclusively. they are visually disappointing, not only because the ideas are plain, but because crocodile entertainment could only bring plainness to their ideas. in their enemy design this remains a symbol. the enemy race is, well, a barney-like dinosaur and through the game you encounter a generous maximum of 4 barney variations. most every encounter is a mob of these same bipedal reptiles, with little visual and no mechanical variation. the resulting plainness in visual and scenario design is not surprising given the example set after the first level sequence.
to put it simply, this game is unable to cope with the platformer genre as it has stood since 1988. zack zero’s platforming is seemingly competent, at first, yet after the first 2 or 3 hours, the player has experienced the majority of what zack zero has to offer from its platforming, and is expected to play through variations of the same method. I can’t even say that every level contributes at least a few new ideas, there are levels in the mid and endgame that are plainly a wasteland of ideas. it was determined that the baseline of jumping on platforms, vertically and horizontally, would suffice for the majority of the game. it can be supposed that the weakness and tapered off nature of the game’s enemies contributes to the inability to differentiate. I cannot determine what is not there. crocodile entertainment banked on zack zero having an adventurous feel, with long levels coming in all kinds of shapes and sizes, topped off with zelda puzzling. the puzzling is nice and has far more thought put into it than the platforming, but it is not good enough to carry the deadweight of the game’s core. never, if maybe one time, are the player’s powers expected to use in tandem in the game’s puzzles. they’re more like glorified locked doors; the player finds then performs the told and unchanging solution, with the variable being only which power is the solution.
zack zero’s implementation of fighting combat is, as very well expected, ignorant of its placed genre, and as a result nothing other than offensive. there are two identical punches, a homing disk-something shot, and a myriad of elemental powers. zack zero’s model is unemotive and his bland animations could be called serviceable. the fire and ice powers have particles that go beyond and obscure their hitboxes, blind the player, and look particularly garish, most especially the terrible bloom-or-whatever happens when you do a fire explosion. earth attacks are relatively goofy but at least look and feel the best. enemies typically have more exciting fighting animation and presence than zack does. in between boss phases are combative cutscenes - these really show how dead and uncharismatic the protagonist is during combat. zack always has super armor, his attacks are all fast and strong, there is no clear reason to use some attacks over others, the depth of strategy is close range or long range. which of course means that long-range is the best option. that besides, earth attacks do overwhelmingly more damage than other attacks with little sacrifice, when it comes to melee. bosses go down comically fast with nicely timed ground slams.
enemies do no more than approach zack and swing, or approach until contact. minibosses have attack patterns even more lame than a super mario boss, that is, they have one extremely easy to dodge attack performed over and over again. it doesn’t need to be said, though I’ll say it: the combat and enemy design all suck. in a complete move of utter unaware travesty, combat happens more than not within encounters, where every bad enemy needs to be beaten in order to progress. combat and platforming is rarely integrated and it is with flying enemies if it ever is. bosses start out as more puffed out versions of minibosses, then become the best part of the game. zack zero’s boss fights are the only aware and modernized aspect of the title and I can’t help but feel they’re not studied, just coincidental. nevertheless, the patterns become inventive, though never chaotic or dense, which is good and bad. since the game checkpoints between phases, bosses never offer a working challenge, yet it doesn’t stop the fights from being enjoyable.
sometimes the game has walkable floor that looks like it’s in the background. it’s really impossible to differentiate those sections from actual background. sometimes background looks like walkable floor, but then you find out it was the background. checkpoints are very frequent, so while I couldn’t get mad, I still found these moments so incredibly stupid. there is a leveling system, with experience points gained through collectibles, that locks out abilities. the combat sucks, so again I couldn’t get mad. either upgraded abilities deal no extra damage, or enemies level up with you, who knows, but I seemed to do the same damage throughout the whole game. the story is embarrassingly, hilariously bad, and the game would have been better off without any attempt at writing. the soundtrack is largely unfitting and I rarely if ever get that feeling about accompanied music. it’s strange how catastrophically bad elements of zack zero are and how it isn’t really felt in the game. it’s pitiable, the feeling I can’t shake, that crocodile really did try their best.