Ceiling Zero (Apple II) review
"As I became slowly disenchanted with Space Invaders, I looked to the Apple for new variants. I just wanted to shoot things up, which was good, because many early Apple games offered nothing more. Ceiling Zero(CZ) had lots of shooting and, worse yet, a flowerpot-shaped boss ship that went FWEEE to start things off. I suppose there was no shortage of shooters that trapped you unfairly with random incidents, but when I was young, that didn't bother me. I wasnít good enough for that to be a factor. "
As I became slowly disenchanted with Space Invaders, I looked to the Apple for new variants. I just wanted to shoot things up, which was good, because many early Apple games offered nothing more. Ceiling Zero(CZ) had lots of shooting and, worse yet, a flowerpot-shaped boss ship that went FWEEE to start things off. I suppose there was no shortage of shooters that trapped you unfairly with random incidents, but when I was young, that didn't bother me. I wasnít good enough for that to be a factor.
The object of CZ is to shoot enemies that bounce around the screen in diagonals. Nothing shoots at you; the invincible orange flowerpot with the roaming eye-band drops out enemies. There are three: a saucer, faster than you, pentagonal mouths slightly slower, and blue eyeballs that are useless. A pair of radar dishes moves down after each board, and the beam between them dictates the decreasing distance enemies can bounce, from level fifteen down to zero. Occasionally a small triple-decker spaceship swerves down randomly and kills you if it gets to the bottom, but for the most part, you can calculate which enemies go where.
And so the trickiest part about CZ is that you move your ship along the screen bottom with paddles. You can use a joystick, if you hold it exactly, but your generic base-ship may spend most of its time never staying put in a game that strategically demands it. As you only get one shot, itís annoying to know exactly where an enemy drops and have to move back and forth to nail it when youíre just under.
But not as annoying as how you can lose two bases in a row. Once you die, your base is deposited after a few seconds regardless of what mayhem is going on around you. Youíre blinded as to where youíll put it, and the enemies donít stop bouncing. Then thereís the plinking noise informing you to get going.
Which is in tune with the rest of the game, or rather equally out of tune. The nail-curdling scream as the flowerpot is lowered and the radar dishes get in place canít be skipped. The radar dishes squawk at an increased pitch as you get to higher levels. Long enough to get on your nerves yet not long enough for a break. Those who groan at special effects of the eighties that seem cheesy today should check out CZ. The binky noises when you shoot also form a sort of water torture if you play long enough to get any good. I didnít notice this, originally, because I thought it was cool how the babbling smiley-faces changed between red and green, which I found later was due to quick-and-dirty programming.
CZ stands out as one of those mediocre games from old days that highlight how much technology can quicken things for us. In fifteen minutes, I blazed through the game on ApplePC, and I never felt a compulsion to play it again. The flowerpot exploded. It was almost worth sitting through the wretched noise. But I've learned about games like that by now, ones that show I once let myself be wowed by about anything. You might think you want to go back and stay, but you donít.
Community review by aschultz (June 01, 2004)
Andrew Schultz used to write a lot of reviews and game guides but made the transition to writing games a while back. He still comes back, wiser and more forgiving of design errors, to write about games he loved, or appreciates more, now.
More Reviews by aschultz [+]
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