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Zapper (GameCube) artwork

Zapper (GameCube) review

"Zapper seldom has any interesting or impressive scenes. You do much the same on every level, perform the same jumps, dodge the same traps, kill the same enemies, and even discover the same secret areas."

If you're a clearance bin digger like I am, you've probably seen a million copies of Zapper. There's a reason no one's buying them, and most of it has to do with the cover art and lack of hype. You know by looking at the cute cartoony cricket on the cover that only one of two people will be liberating this game from dump bin hell:

1) Parents looking for a cheap game to shut their noisy hellions up.

2) Broke ass gamers who can stand obscure (and often mediocre to subpar) titles, even though they know they're either going to sell them to a pawn shop or donate them to Goodwill.

It's as though humans have evolved, having gained an innate survival tactic telling them what pieces of entertainment are wastes of money. However, Zapper has a twist! One look will tell you it's a generic platformer in vein of better ones like Super Mario 64 or Spyro the Dragon, but it's actually doesn't play like your typical platformer. It took an age old idea like Frogger and redesigned it in the hopes of providing fresh gameplay and at least a tolerable experience.

But there's another twist: the game is still, as you originally suspected, mediocre.

It has most of the elements you would expect: cute characters, lame jokes, incessant collecting, some interesting scenarios. They even refer to the character as “One Wicked Cricket”, despite the lack of anything in the game that qualifies him as such. You have to love when they attribute attitude to a family-friendly character.

But what this game lacks is fluid motion. Every level is a giant grid-based themed level like a ghost town or an gold mine. Your objective is to collect six giant bird eggs “hidden” throughout the level. You don't advance forward in one fluid motion, but move square by square. And I mean square by square. You cannot hold down a directional button and advance several squares at a time, but have to press a direction every time you want to move. Even with the ability to leap two squares ahead, this kills the pace. Areas with really long straightaways feel tedious and slow. Even when you're outrunning a stampeding herd of cattle, the simple mindless action of repeatedly hitting a directional button wears away your sanity. Is slow gameplay something you would associate with a “wicked cricket”?

The only way to redeem this game is to make the best of the dry gameplay and have some difficult and tricky scenes. You do have your close shaves trying to weave around dropping pickaxes in the gold mine, or your solid puzzles trying to turn mirrors a certain way to reflect lasers in just the right direction (lest you be disintegrated), scenes that require timing and brain power. Unfortunately, these setups are few and far between. You spend most of your time performing rudimentary leaps and weaving around obvious situations. Almost all of the scenes require basic patience; just sit back and wait for an opening. Once again, the pace drops.

Does the action save the pace? Nope. Your only attack is a basic antenna zap, and that only kills one type of enemy in the entire game. Anything else can only be dealt with using a powered up zap, but that can only be obtained at certain points in the game.

Does the challenge save the pace? Nope. You start with 20 lives and checkpoints are abundant. Given the patience-based gameplay, you shouldn't have much of a problem completing a level if you're super careful. Even if you suck, you can still win through pure constitution. At game over, you get another 20 lives.

Zapper seldom has any interesting or impressive scenes. You do much the same on every level, perform the same jumps, dodge the same traps, kill the same enemies, and even discover the same secret areas. Once you reach the end, if you haven't tossed this game onto the sell pile, you'll fight the one and only boss. It plays out like a first boss battle from just about any other platformer. Your reward for suffering through the short hours of tedious gameplay is an unfunny cutscene and a feeling of emptiness in your wallet. Maybe you only paid $5 for this game, but even for that price you deserve better.

Abide your first instincts, people. It's like Jay Sherman said about awful movies: If the movie stinks, don't go. If the game looks lackluster, it most likely is. By purchasing it, you (and I, for certain) are only rewarding companies for making mediocre titles. Let's not do that, or as little as possible anyway.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (July 07, 2011)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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