Zynaps logo

IN days long past there was a game called Scramble, where the player was cast as pilot of a rocket ship charged with blasting his way through an underground complex. It was the first arcade machine to boast sideways scrolling, but features precious little else. Recently the Scramble theme has been revamped by dedicated systems like Salamander, Nemesis and Vulcan Venture.
And so let Zynaps enter the Amiga software arena. One of the first side-scrolling games to appear in a market already flooded by vertically scrolling ones.

From the start the layout looks very Salamanderish, with the screen rolling past and the first wave of alien life forms squirming on, ready to release plasma bolts of death upon the intruder. That's you.
If the baddies are the first thing you'll notice, the pathetic response speed of the ship will be next. Because if you don't blast the first nasties pronto it's curtains.
Of course the dedicated gamer should have little difficulty despatching the first lot, catching and activating the first energy bonus - a speed-up, which makes he ship several times more responsive. Without this the game is almost impossible, since the enemy's homing plasma bombs are devilishly hard to avoid.

Holding down the fire button while collecting the energy pod activates an item. This unusual method saves the trouble of pressing a key, but it can keep your trigger finger busy when the action starts to hot up - and it does.
By collecting more energy pods along the way the type of weapon changes, going from extra speed and pulse lasers right up to seeker missiles. Mean beasts these, taking out almost everything in sight, and what's more it's possible to have several on the go at once.

As the first level progresses the tunnel starts to narrow significantly, making life very tough going, since bashing into any static object inflicts a nasty case of death by destruction.

Staying with the Salamander mould, at the end of each level - there are 14 all told - is a mother ship. Hideously well armed and well protected it has to be destroyed before progressing further. To add spice, the mother ship gets bigger and meander with each level.

Sadly, Zynaps fits rather uncomfortably into the "what might have been" category. I'm not saying it's a bad game - but much of the original leg work seems to have been carried directly over from the ST version.
It would seem, in fact, that the game was never destined to take advantage of the Amiga's superior sound and graphics. Although the music sounds very Jean Michel Jarre, the game sound is too little simplistic for my liking, with no voice synthesis in sight.
When compared with Anco's blisteringly fast budget title, XR35, it is overpriced.

Zynaps logo CU Screen Star

Price: £24.95

Just when I was beginning to feel that the left-to-right scrolling R-Type format had been done to death, Zynaps comes along and proves me completely and utterly wrong by proving that there is still life in the age-old genre. Hewson's latest is one of the most colourful and certainly one of the most enjoyable shoot 'em ups yet to appear.
If you can cast your mind back about nine months or so, you will remember that Zynaps, programmed by Graftgold boys Dominic Robinson and John Cumming caused quite a stir on the 64 when it was first released, and scooped a number of accolades, a CU Screen Star (most importantly).

Zynaps is very much in the same mould as games such as IO and Nemesis. The basic idea is to fly a spaceship through a series of left-to-right scrolling levels, shooting aliens and accumulating extra weapons as you go. The scrolling is set at a fixed rate, so you cannot bottle out and head back half way through if the going gets too heavy (which it invariably does).

The aliens that attack do not just float around the screen any old how. Each wave has its own specific attack pattern, the most common being a bouncing caterpillar-type string of nasties. Unlike R-Type or Nemesis however, the order of the attack waves is not preset and so there is no way of telling what kind of aliens will be the next to arrive on screen. As usual, disposing of them is just a matter of shooting them.

The trouble is, the laser you are given at the start is a rather pitiful little weapon, and there is no way you could possibly get through the entire game without trading it in for somewhere a bit deadlier. This is done by shooting a wave of marauding aliens, which leaves behind a glowing power-pod. Collecting this with the fire button held down will activate the weapon currently depicted in the status display. If you want to higher levels of weapon, however, the way to go about it is to collect a few pods without the fire button held down. Each time you do this, the 'current weapon' icon will advance to the next in line. When the one you want appears, just make sure the fire button is down when you collect the next capsule.

There are about five power-ups available, including the obligatory speedup and bomb, and my personal fave, the super homing missile, which appears at the end of the weapons list. Collect a couple of these, and you have got virtually nothing to worry about. "By' eck, them *!#%ers do not mess about, do they?" said big Nige Taylor, CU's Yorkshire pudding of an Adman as several extremely lethal missiles burnt across the screen, locking on and burning to a crisp every alien mutha on the screen in one go.

Each level is about eight squillion screens long (well at least that is what it seems like) and guess what lurks at the end of each one... Yes, you got it, a big mean mothership. Actually, they are not that much of a problem to wipe out, as long as you can survive the bullets and mines they throw at you long enough. When the mothership finally blows, your score is given a quick boost and you progress to the next level. There are about 14 in all, and begin to reach the 'eat your own underpants' degree of difficulty at level four, when the game area starts to get so amazingly narrow that it is hard enough to get through even without any aliens!

Zynaps is terrific. It is certainly the best of the Nemesis bunch so far, boasting some exquisite backdrops and sprites, particularly in the later stages and credit must go to the talented Pete Lyon for designing them.

  • Don't collect more than one speedup. Doing so makes the control too sensitive and so it is easy to oversteer and hit a wall.
  • Go for the super homing missile straight away. Once you have got it, collect another. Once you have got two, just keep stabbing the fire button and you will hardly have to worry about aliens at all for a while.
  • On level two, do not try to shoot the asteroids, they are invincible. Avoid them and stay away from the edge of the screen.
  • Do not bother collecting the bomb. It is only useful on ground installations, which very rarely appear.

Zynaps logo

Hewson, £19.99 disk

You've had a baaaaad day. Mind you, when you joined the Ruphspace troopers you weren't led to expect the easy missions. Lots of money and adoring women - yes, but not the easy missions. Blowing up that alien space station was about the non-easiest mission so far and if the rest of your squad weren't sizzling heaps of charred meat they would no doubt agree.

Remembering all your training in 'Making the Best of a Bad Job' (GCSE) you decide that, what the Hell, your whole platoon couldn't blow up the space station, but you're riled enough to single-handedly blow up the central base you noticed on that nearby earlier on.

First, though, you've got to fly your Scorpion fighter (well, actually you've stolen it) past the station defences, out through an asteroid field and towards the enemy stronghold, putting the torch to gun emplacements and enemy spacecraft as you go.

It's only once you're out amongst the enemy that you find out the ship you've stolen isn't well equipped for the incessant onslaught to come. It's just soooo sloooowww and the laser only fires two shots at a time! Shoot a whole formation of aliens, though, and you can pick up a fuel pod which can be turned into a handy piece of destructive hardware.

Just like the Esso Tiger Tokens, the more you collect, the better the item you get. An indicator graphic shows what you can add on to the Scorpion by collecting one more fuel pod and activating the fuel scoop. Faster pulse lasers, extra thrusters, plasma bombs for destroying ground targets, manually targeted homing missiles and intelligent seeker rockets - all can be yours with no financial loss to yourself. What started off a bad day is about to get better...

Paul Glancy It's games like this that make you realise just how easy it is to win a fist-fight with a starving grizzly bear. It has to be said, though, that Zynaps isn't as difficult or as frustrating to play on the Amiga as it was on the 64, simply because it doesn't send you back to the start of the level every time you lose a life - if I had a penny for every bloody vessel I burst playing that game I'd have enough to wedge the leg of my desk up straight. The high standard of graphics and sound you'd expect from Hewson are here but it's noticeable that there isn't a lot of variety in graphics during a level, and the motherships waiting at the end of the levels look definitely weedy compared to those in other games of this type. The blasting gameplay is better than most, though, and the constant onslaught of alien craft doesn't allow your fire button a moment's rest. Blasting fans should love it.
Maff Evans I like shoot 'em ups, and Zynaps is a good one. The graphics are cleanly defined and nicely coloured, if a little sparsely animated and the sound is very 'outer-spacey' (if, indeed there is such a thing) (There is, Maff, there is - Ed) and suits the action well. There are a couple of quirks that I feel do need pointing out though. For one, the ship seems to jerk sideways after the joystick is released, often just enough to crash you into an asteroid or piece of scenery, and the add-on weapons run out a little too quickly for my liking. Despite my quibbling, I still enjoy playing Zynaps. As I said, it's a good shoot 'em up and good shoot 'em ups are always worthy of attention, aren't they? So go to your nearest software dealer and see if it's your cup of Horlicks.