Saturday, 8 November 2014

GROW: Red Zone

Review by ThoRn
Publisher(s)Time Warner Interactive
Designer(s)Mikael Balle
Jesper Vorsholt Jørgensen
Composer(s)Jesper Kyd
Platform(s)Genesis/Mega Drive
Release date(s)
  • NA 1994
  • EU 1994
Genre(s)Helicopter, Real-Time, Shooter
                                                               Source of above information: Wikipedia

It's 1994 and the 16-Bit wars has been raging on for a few years now, with each side still in contention for video game domination.  It's at a point where Sega and Nintendo really need to start trying new things and pushing the limits of the hardware to their full potential.  The Super Nintendo already had the Super FX chip doing amazing things and not to mention Donkey Kong Country hit the stores in time for Christmas 1994.  The Mega CD was somewhat of a fail but the 32X was on its way to breathe new life in to the Mega Drive but what about the Mega Drive as a stand alone console.  What did Sega's black box have to show the world it still had a few aces up it's sleeve?  The Answer, RED ZONE.......

Zyristan, a small Eastern European nation has been invaded by a group of communist following the collapse of the USSR.  Cities were invaded, nuclear weapons had been seized by the dictator of the group.  All seemed lost until a team of specialist have been sent in to disable Zyristan's nuclear weapons and take out the dictator and his group of communist rebels.

There are two different game modes throughout Red Zone, the first being overhead, shooter Helicopter stages.  It feels somewhat similar to Desert / Jungle Strike but with insane difficulty and awesome graphics.  Unfortunately this is a one life, no continues sort of game so you will need to spend the time getting to know the levels. Anyway, back to the helicopter stages.  Even though you are met with insane difficulty you are equipped with an array of arsenal which can deal out quite a lot of damage to the enemy.  But you only have limited ammo so use it wisely.

The 2nd game mode is another overhead style shooter but this time you are inside buildings and bunkers on foot.  I wouldn't say the 'on foot' levels are quite as challenging as the helicopter levels but they do offer some great close quarter combat gameplay and again great visuals.  Speaking of...

As soon as you power up your Genesis / Mega Drive you are met with some very impressive visuals.  Somehow Zyrinx managed to create an amazing rotoscoped Full Motion Video intro.  It may only be in red and black but it still looks absolutely brilliant and you wont see this on any other cartridge game on Sega's 16-Bit platform.

As for the gameplay, once again it is amazing to see what this developer could do with the hardware.   You have full 360 rotation with multiple layered sprites and scaling.  The best way to describe it would be to think of Sega's Super Scaler games from the late 80's.  Everything is still a sprite but uses multiple layers to create a very effective 3D experience.  It looks great in the helicopter scenes but really shows of in the 'on foot' stages as you can see the depth of the walls and not to mention the ability to drop down levels which really shows off the multiple layers and scaling.

Some people are not a fan of the music in this game but I for the life of me can't figure out why.  The music is composed by Jesper Kyd who is the composer behind the 'Hitman' franchise.  It's some of the best use of stereo separation I have heard from a Mega Drive game but is also some of the best deep bass techno you will find on a 16-bit console.  If you have played 'The Adventures of Batman & Robin' on the Mega Drive then you will have a fair idea of what you are in for when it comes to the audio for Red Zone.

It's a very difficult game and can become quite frustrating very early on.  But you need to treat it like we did back in the day.  You need to take the time to learn where the enemies are and their attack patterns.  Once you get past that you will have some great solid gameplay with some outstanding visuals and music to accompany your experience.

Until next time...  Stay Retro.

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