Zapper
System: GameCube
Publisher: Infogrames
Developer: Blitz Games
Released: November 2002
Genre: Platform
Capabilities: Memory Card compatible

Review Written: January 13, 2003

Crickets!? Once I think developers run out of ideas for any type of animal to base a game on they turn to insects. Zapper focuses on the life of a cricket with the aforementioned name, and places him in your typical platform action game. Zapper came out of nowhere, I never saw a single media preview for it or anything else for the matter until I saw it on the preorder list at retailers just weeks before its release. Aside from a couple of commercials I ran across on television recently, there was literally no press for Zapper whatsoever. Letís see if the low press support werenít hints at the quality of the game play.

Iím not surprised at the simplistic approach Zapper takes of creating an intriguing storyline; itís quite common of games of this nature. Your mission is to rescue your brother Zipper who was kidnapped from Maggie the Magpie. Not the most electrifying story in the world, but it lays the ground work for the adventure ahead of you.

Zapper isnít the most technologically advanced platform game out there. You start up each round hopping one space at a time on the level grid. Youíll dodge obstacles and other hazards that get in your way. I became a bit flustered getting by some of these traps with the odd movement scheme, but thankfully the developers added a feature where you can change facing directions with the shoulder buttons. Then again, sometimes I get immersed in some of the more intense parts of the stages that the timing of pressing the shoulder buttons must be dead on in order to advance. Iím sure thisíll happen to you too. Iím baffled as to why the developers didnít give you the ability to move around in free 3D. There couldíve at least been an option.

Rest assured, Zapper does have his own unique set of abilities to help him progress through the stages. He can do a basic zap which will help him vanquish most foes and destroy wooden crates that contain various power ups. By collecting enough of one item in particular, youíll be able to perform a super-zap thatíll grant you access to hidden parts of a level or open up steel crates. The primary objective of each level is to find six eggs that were hidden by Maggie the Magpie.  

The developers did manage to include some decent extra modes of play. Thereís an arcade mode, which basically has you going through levels you already completed, but with a time limit on this run. Not really too much use for this mode unless you have a random adrenaline rush to conquer Zapper through and through. If the arcade mode doesnít float your boat, then hopefully the multi player will. Up to four peeps can compete in several modes of play that range from death match to zipper ball. Some of the modes only have a couple of variations, but you can also implement your own modifiers to spice things up a bit.

Zapperís 18 stages shouldnít take you too long to beat since the game play remains the same for the most part through your journey. Anybody should be able to get past this game in a breeze. As I said above, the extra Arcade and multi player modes add a little bit more to the package, but not a whole heck of a lot all around.  

I wasnít really too impressed with the visuals in Zapper. Considering that the developers had to produce this title on all three consoles simultaneously is when you realize these graphics manage to hold their own. The texturing for all the character models, environments, and the rest of the surrounding are done slightly above average. Nothing too earth shattering, but they get the job done. One thing does stand out, albeit in a bad way, is the fact the protagonist (Zapper) doesnít have much to separate himself from the main staple of Marioís and Linkís. Most heroes have many distinguishing characteristics, but Zapper just seems like an average baddie youíd run across in a game like Donkey Kong Country. I feel these graphics are about a year behind the standard we expect today.

The audio isnít all that memorable either. The sound effects are what you expect of them to be. Your usual bonks and bleeps for jumps and all that fun stuff sounds like what theyíre shooting for. The background music consists of mostly geriatric feel good tunes with a little techno thrown in to boot. Decent stuff all together, but it couldíve been much better with the right amount of effort.  

RATINGS 

Graphics: 6.5
Sound: 6.1
Game play: 7.2
Replay Value: 5.3

Overall: 6.2 

Zapper hits the target for the audience it is intended for. Serious gamers looking for a new adventure title on the GameCube should only consider this for a rental. While this isnít the most outstanding platform game out there, itís one that the little tikes will get a kick out of for a while.

 

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