Accessory Review: Zero Tolerance System Link Cable (GEN)

Technopop

 

Name: Zero Tolerance System Link Cable
Manufacturer: Accolade
Release Date: 1994
Platform: Sega Genesis (Mega Drive)
Launch Title: Zero Tolerance

 

(Editor’s Note: This Accessory was covered using it on two North American Sega Genesis consoles, two Genesis sets of hookups, two Genesis controllers and two North American copies of Zero Tolerance; all these articles are owned by the reviewer.)

 

The introduction of a game accessory has always been a complicated proposition. Regardless of its function, game accessories live and die based on a few aspects. The first aspect is the specific purpose of the device. The second being what the device does in conjunction with the given game or games and how its changes the overall experience. Another core area has to do with the build quality of the peripheral. Lastly, software support is also key for an accessory to have longevity.

With that criteria in mind, it may seem that the Zero Tolerance System Link Cable has gone down in history as being a complete disaster both a critical and commercial perspective. With it only being supported by one game, a late generation obscure first person shooter Zero Tolerance (GEN), it is easy to see why this device’s lifetime was woefully short. This is a shame because the link cable for Zero Tolerance managed to facilitate one of the best multiplayer first person shooter experiences of that generation; a generation populated with other such games with multiplayer like Doom (DOS) and Heretic (DOS).

Full View of the Zero Tolerance  System Link Cable (Mega Drive Version)Full View of the Zero Tolerance  System Link Cable (Mega Drive Version)

Full View of the Zero Tolerance System Link Cable (Mega Drive Version)

The only function of the Zero Tolerance Link Cable is to connect to Sega Genesis systems in order to create a pseudo serial link. This makes playing the cooperative mode in Zero Tolerance. Had the sequel aptly titled Beyond Zero Tolerance, his cable would have supported two titles. The lack of software support for the cable definitely prevented it from catching on.

Another detracting factor is that making the cooperative mode even possible requires two Genesis systems, two copies of Zero Tolerance, hookups for both systems, two television sets, two controllers and one link cable. With all of these stipulations and variables involved it is a tad too much to ask out of gamers in the year 1994. This is coupled with the fact that Zero Tolerance was obscure game released at the tail end of the Genesis’ lifetime and the fact that the link cable was only distributed through sending a mail order form to have it sent.

It is no wonder why this accessary was not popular and has become one of the rarest, commanding relatively high prices on the internet, provided they can even be found. When found the price of one of these cables runs at roughly $20-$30 sans shipping and handling. Being supporting only supported by one title it is a heavy price to pay for such a device.

The average price for a used copy of Zero Tolerance ranges from $8-$17 for either a loose cartridge or a complete copy. Buying two copies with a cable along with two anything else to conjure this experience on one’s own accord can be a potentially expensive proposition and one that even many retro gamers will be sure to avoid.

However, there are some great qualities to this cable. For one thing it is of a high build quality. It does not feel frail in any way. The data communication speed between both systems seems to be borderline instantaneous. When in play, the game instantly tracks where every entity is within the playing environment without any lag aside from what is seen with the single player experience.

A Detailed Diagram Showing How to Concoct Your Own ZT Link Cable

A Detailed Diagram Showing How to Concoct Your Own ZT Link Cable

For those who cannot afford the price of the cable are in luck. The remnants of the Technopop website, kept alive by founder Randel Reiss, reveal the technical details for creating a makeshift link cable with two cannibalized Sega Genesis controller cords. This is a good cheap alternative, provided that one has the aptitude for wire splicing and soldering. If not, the easy way out would just be to pay the extra cash to get the real deal.

As mentioned in our review of the game Zero Tolerance proper, the fun of the cooperative multiplayer mode in this title is unmatched for its era. The way that the game dynamics change with the inclusion of a compatriot is profoundly significant. It is a unique piece that offered system link capabilities for console gaming for the first time. However, the relatively high financial barrier to entry and the support of only one game makes this accessory nigh impossible to recommend to anyone who is not a diehard retro games, Zero Tolerance or Sega Genesis fan.

 

 

Rating III-V

Chattin’ it up: Super Soul Edition

ssgsupersoul

Matt, Durrty and I [Jon] have a casual chat with some of the guys at Super Soul about about top favorite games. Video game are awesome, are they not?? Enjoy!

 

Thanks for watching. Please rate and subscribe to our channel to stay tuned for more video features from The Solid State Gamer!

Check out our main site for new written features, videos, podcasts and more @: thesolidstategamer.wordpress.com

Be sure to check out the Super Soul website @: www.supersoul.co

Also, the Speakeasy main site @: speakeasyfight.com

 

Game Review: Kid Icarus (NES)

 

Kid Icarus NES North American Box Art

Kid Icarus NES North American Box Art

 

Name: Kid Icarus
Release Date: December 1987
Developer: Nintendo (Gunpei Yokoi)
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System
Genre/Type: 2D Platform Vertical Scrolling Adventure

 

(Editor’s Note: This game was covered playing a North American copy of Kid Icarus for the Nintendo entertainment system played to completion.)

 

Kid Icarus is an interesting game primarily because of what it tries to achieve. It definitely takes a cue from three iconic games. In the game, an angel by the name of Pit is called upon by Platenia to save Angel Land from the evil Medusa. However, that will not be an easy task as Pit is trapped in the realm of Hades, and must make his way up there, fighting minions of evil on the way. While this game has a some ambitious ideas along with a fantastic soundtrack, Kid Icarus ultimately suffers from various technical problems.

The game play in Kid Icarus is interesting and almost unique in a sense. It adopts its side scrolling platform game play from Super Mario Bros., its vertical scrolling platform game play and combat (and password system) from Metroid, and its dungeon crawling adventure game play and item collecting from The Legend of Zelda. In theory, this ambitious idea to culminate these vastly different styles of play into one game seems like one of the greatest ideas for this game or even gaming in general. In practice, however, Kid Icarus does not quite come together in a cohesive or functional way.

In terms of character control, Kid Icarus is below mediocre when at its best. The things Pit is physically capable of is fairly limited as a result of design and not of technology. In Kid Icarus Pit can can shoot his bow and even aim upward, but cannot jump while aiming upward. Issues like this have been solved by this time with Metroid. Another issue concerning control is ducking in Kid Icarus. Ducking down to avoid enemies is a very useful feature in the game, but when on a semi-solid platforms ducking while standing on them makes Pit pass through the platform which, more often than not, ends up with Pit falling to his death. Also, Pit has wings on his back and yet he cannot fly without a special and expensive feather powerup which is still not so great as it is only temporary. In the end, the control comes up as being unnecessarily crippled.

The game starts out with some levels designed after Metroid’s vertical scrolling platform game play. This level and game play style is by far the most unplayable part of the game. When Pit jumps to a higher platform, the level environment scrolls downward. However, the level’s geometry cannot move back up, so falling or moving back down is not an option and results in death if attempted. There is a problem with this. If the floor beneath Pit is not visible on screen, then it does not exist in the game’s logic. An example in which this is an issue is if Pit climbs up just enough where the level scrolls down just enough to make the floor not present on screen. It could be the ground floor that pit started on. If Pit were to drop to that floor (that is not present on screen only by an inch) Pit “falls to hid death”. That is pretty lame considering that floor is just a little shy of existing on screen. That is not to say that this is the only technical issue that hurts this game. With how the level’s geometry scrolls, the levels play as if what is shown on screen and what is a solid platform are two different entities that have little or no cohesion. This results in Pit’s unintended ability to clip through corners of platforms and even through solid entities. This coupled with the fact that level design calls for some precise platforming does not help as certain level sections play as if they were not designed to accommodate for this technical anomaly. An other design flaw has to do with how enemies generate and exist in the level’s overall environment. Only a couple of enemy types exist native to a platform within the level. This is fine on its own, but enemies sometimes spawn within solid entities in the level’s architecture. On top of that, the other monsters will just fall from the sky. The problem with this is that there could be a ceiling above Pit where the enemies are coming from, but since it is not present on screen, it does not exist. This makes very little sense and makes the game more frustrating because of this illogical feature. The game does not get more difficult when done with these levels.

Kid Icarus contains boss battles, but require you to do lots of dungeon crawling to get to those fights. This is where the game The Legend of Zelda comes in as another one of the three core competencies of this game. Like The Legend of Zelda, Pit has to traverse a series of rooms on a dungeon map. One of these rooms contains the boss of a particular world. It plays like a 2D platform game, but it is fairly standard. Another adopted feature is the currency and item portion of Kid Icarus. In the game, the currency is hearts. every level has a store in which Pit can bring his purse of hearts and purchase goods. This all seems well and good. However, there is no real proper balance between how much life Pit loses versus the cost of store items (which is unnecessarily high). This just turns the dungeon crawling levels into a long and tedious grind to get enough hearts to buy the bare bone items required just to survive and get by in the dungeon, let alone hammers to free the petrified soldiers of Platenia. The difficulty from one room to another is also something that seems vastly unbalanced. some rooms are a breeze to traverse as where the next room could contain enemies that are among the toughest to defeat. The previously mentioned sprite collision issue as well as the environment clipping are also substantial issues in this segment of Kid Icarus. Expect to spend anywhere from forty minutes to an entire hour when attempting to beat one of these dungeon crawling levels.

The third and last significant game play style is exhibited in the side scrolling levels that pay homage to Super Mario Bros. in a big way. The level designs of these particular stages are fine, but the way they all play out is standard of any generic game that features any platforming. However there is something good to be said about this particular level style as the only serious technical problem that seems to be present is the shoddy sprite collision with items.

Now, all this does not mean that Kid Icarus is a terrible game. One of the things that may keep someone going back to this game is the role playing game like persistence in Kid Icarus. While clearing levels and killing monsters, Pit will come across some upgrades that add to his overall attack power and life capacity. This will something that is bound to attract some people because it’s a part of Kid Icarus that is not broken nor is it unbalanced.

Another fantastic aspect of Kid Icarus is its Soundtrack, which seems to capture the essence of the ancient greek mythological trappings in which the game takes place. There may not a terrible amount of songs in the game’s entire musical score, but the quality of the compositions overrides the physical size of it. This is clearly the high note of the experience this game has to offer.

Lastly, the general art direction of of Kid Icarus is one thing that makes the game so inviting initially. The depictions of the Greek landscapes, Hades, and Angel Land. The visuals stick in the mind long after playing it. The sprites are nicely designed, but the animations could have complemented that.

It is abundantly clear that Kid Icarus has issues. That does not mean the game is horrible. It does have its high points with some of the graphics and all the quality music. However, every time game brings itself up, it just puts itself down all the time with its game play and balancing problems. With that, Kid Icarus is okay, but its questionable quality makes it impossible to recommend to just anyone.

 

 

 

Rating III-V

Inside Tour: Super Soul (Lexington, KY)

ssgsupersoul

Hey guys, this is Jon Rivera from the Solid State Gamer bringing you a semi candid look at a cool game development studio based out of Lexington, KY called Super Soul. Both John Meister (Technical Developer) and Richie Hoagland (Creative Director) were nice enough to let us get an inside look at their once radio station turned game studio. Mr. Off White and Durrty got to test drive Super Soul’s latest title Speakeasy: Fisticuff League, a PS4 exclusive. We even got a chance to ask about their project Astronaut Kitty Boom Boom as well as check out their Oculus Rift VR dev unit before interviewing them for the Solid State Romcast. It was such a blast to get a tour of their humble development studio and get a look into studio’s latest release and converse with them about their labors. Enjoy!

 

 

Thanks for watching. Please rate and subscribe to our channel to stay tuned for more video features from The Solid State Gamer!

Be sure to check out the Super Soul website @: www.supersoul.co

Also, the Speakeasy main site @: speakeasyfight.com

Solid State Romcast: The 11-18-14 Show

Shambam Bamana!! This time on the Romcast, Matt and Jon discuss the decision of a UK artist to wear a VR headset for roughly a whole month and how this may ruin his life. After that, the dudes speculate as to why the IGN video feature, showing the graphical comparison between the various versions of the latest Dragon Age title, has been set to private. Lastly, San Juan and Off White expose and talk about harassment in the gaming world and its many manifestations over the years. Like Shawn Layden at SCEA, we at the Romcast have Zero Tolerance for harassment in gaming. Enjoy!!

 


Solid State Romcast 11-18-14 Show

 

Be sure to drop us a line at our E-mail address: solidstateromcast@gmail.com. As always, thanks for listening and stayed tuned for the next installment!

 

Solid State Romcast Crew:

Jon “San Juan” Rivera – Host

Matt “Off” White – Cohost

 

Music Credit:

Introduction Theme – Car Jack [2011 version] by Electric Children

Interlude No. 1 – Unknown Track A by ???

Interlude No. 2 – Unknown Track B by ???

Roundtable Theme – Pumped by RoccoW

Resolution Theme – Skip Sandwich DX By Electric Children

Solid State Romcast: The 11-10-14 Show

Welcome back to the Solid State Romcast… where high explosions equal big points! San Juan and Mr. Off White dive into the Pixar-esque anncouncement trailer for Blizzards brand new original game Overwatch. Will Jon score it big with the Tracer booth babe at the next Blizzcon?? Also, the guys discuss a Nintendo press release that states that they are looking at second and third party developers to spin out their treasured franchises and possibly creating new original IPs in the wonderful world of Nintendo. Will the guys finally get their dream of a dark and gritty Legend of Zelda by From Software of Demon/Dark souls fame?? We can only hope! Lastly, Jon and Matt dive into the crazy world of video game emulation and Jon talks a great deal about his emulation station and why being able to play Doom: Evil Unleashed and Resident Evil 1.5 is such a big deal to him. That… was… awesome!!!

 


Solid State Romcast 11-10-14 Show

 

Be sure to drop us a line at our E-mail address: solidstateromcast@gmail.com. As always, thanks for listening and stayed tuned for the next installment!

 

Solid State Romcast Crew:

Jon “San Juan” Rivera – Host

Matt “Off” White – Cohost

 

Music Credit:

Introduction Theme – Car Jack [2011 version] by Electric Children

Interlude No. 1 – Unknown Track A by ???

Interlude No. 2 – Unknown Track B by ???

Roundtable Theme – Pumped by RoccoW

Resolution Theme – Skip Sandwich DX By Electric Children

Game Review: Zero Tolerance (GEN)

Zero Tolerance (GEN) North American Box Art

Zero Tolerance (GEN) North American Box Art

Name: Zero Tolerance
Developer: Technopop
Publisher: Accolade
System: Sega Genesis (Mega Drive)
Genre: Scifi First Person Shooter
Release Date: 1994

 

(Editor’s Note: This game was covered playing a US copy of Zero Tolerance to completion on a North American Sega Genesis system, both being purchased by the reviewer. The Multiplayer portion was covered using two copies US copies of Zero Tolerance on two North American Sega Genesis systems using the proprietary Zero Tolerance Link Cable.)

 

The first person shooter genre has seen many entries even until the year of 1994 for both computer and home console platforms. While titles such as Wolfentstein 3-D and Doom have defined and solidified this genre, there have been plenty of imitators that have not been able to achieve the acclaim and success of these two seminal titles. This has rung even more true within the confines of the home entertainment landscape, with releases being marred by lackluster ports and issues having to do with the limitations of a control pad for input. This, coupled with the fact that the 16-bit era consoles simply do not have the native horsepower needed to facilitate the crafting of immersive 3-D environments that allow for fluid game play, further cements this school of thought. However, there have been a few exceptions to this stereotype and Zero Tolerance for the Sega Genesis is that exception. This title is an incredible accomplishment for the Genesis created by Technopop, showcasing a first person shooter experience with intuitive controls and game play elements that work well within the limitations of the console; albeit within a 3-D world with many aesthetic features that challenge the design of FPS games both on PC and consoles of the same era. This in combination with sound design that complements the action, incredible graphics, a unique single/multi player experience and a fine attention to detail this stands as a fascinating and deeply entertaining title. Though there are a few aspects of the game that may act against the player, Zero Tolerance is greater than the sum of its parts and shows that FPS games can be done with a good level of aptitude on home consoles.

The story of Zero Tolerance, like most other first person shooters, is simple and not all that important when compared to the main game play. The Planet Defense Corps’ flagship near Earth is seized by aliens. The troops aboard are no match for these hostile forces and send a distress signal to the headquarters on Earth. The ship has been heavily damaged and most of the crew have been killed and are being hunted down by the aliens. The cooling system of the ship’s core is damaged, giving it only hours before self destructing. The PDC decides to send in a team of battle hardened commandos under the moniker ‘Zero Tolerance’ to infiltrate and wipe out the alien forces as well as the humans that the aliens have infected before the Europe-1 explodes.

Each member of the Zero Tolerance squad has a different area of specialization. Captain Haile is an all around demolitions expert and excels at using explosive weapons. Captain Ishii is an expert marksman and is proficient with all projectile based weapons. Major Wolf is the medic of the squad and yields the most healing power when collecting medpacks. Major Ramos is good at moving stealthy and melee combat. Major Gjoerup is a well rounded member and is a security systems expert. Each character offers different play style depending on how the player prefers to tackle FPS based challenges. An interesting thing to note is that, unlike other titles in the genre, this game features a multiracial cast of people. Ishii is a woman of japanese descent, Haile is a man of African descent, Ramos is Hispanic, Wolf’s ancestry hails from Scandinavia and Gjoerup is a white American. In a genre that has so many generic white male pumped up action hero type characters it is refreshing to see a game with a diverse cast where each person brings something different yet equally important to the table.

The object of Zero Tolerance is pretty self explanatory. The player, as one of the members of the ZT squad, must make his or her way through each level eliminating all hostiles in order to clear the area and continue doing this throughout the entire location he or she is in. If the character dies the player has to pick another member of the team. If all team members die then the game ends. There are a total of three different locations, spanning 40 levels, that the player must infiltrate and liberate from the alien forces: the space station Europe-1, a merchant freighter vessel and finally the Planet Defense Corps headquarters on the Earth’s surface. While it is not necessarily required to destroy all enemies to move on to the next levels, the player will not receive a password to continue from that level end point until all aliens are dealt with on that particular level. Even clearing a later level of all hostiles will not yield a password until the all levels until that point are cleared of enemies beforehand.

With the exception of this password acquisition gimmick, the structure of Zero Tolerance is not all that different from other first person shooters of the era like Wolfenstein 3-D and Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold. There is an advantage to being able to jump forward and even backtrack through levels. If players have left behind extra weapons or items because their ammunition and health are maxed out or their inventory is full at the time the player can always go back and pick these items up if their supplies diminish while tackling subsequent areas in the future.

Each of these environments vary significantly in level design, the enemies encountered and the overall visual style. The Europe-1 features a sleek design much akin to Star Trek with its color scheme and structural design. Each floor varies in layout and the enemies encountered based on of the functional purpose the area poses to the space station. The Lab is laden with super computers and memory stations, Hydroponics features an organic floral aesthetic and Engineering is riddled with glowing plasma chambers.

With the Planet Defense Corps headquarters building, the outdoor environment and backgrounds are alive with the flashing neon lights of the futuristic urban skyline. Above ground floors feature an office building environment with security cameras and sentinel robots on alert and basement floors are dark and dreary with raw machinery pulsing all about the levels. All of these environments offer a sense of life and energy that are seldom seen in other FPS offers at the time. The level design is definitely a visual feast for the time.

The game play of Zero Tolerance, like other FPS titles, focuses on shooting various weapons and using melee combat to take down hostiles while traversing the environment. When it comes to implementing a 3D first person shooter on a console one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is the controls. With only so many face buttons and a directional pad on a Genesis controller there are severe limitations to the level of input available for this type of game. Luckily, the Technopop team has managed to craft a control scheme that offers a wide breadth functionality without feeling confusing and cumbersome.

With general maneuvering the D-pad makes the character walk forward, backpedal and rotate left and right. Strafing is preformed by holding the A button in conjunction with pressing left or right. Holding A while pressing up will make the person jump and pressing down will allow one to crouch and sneak in a prone position. Crouching actually makes it harder for enemies because make the player a smaller target for ranged enemies to shoot at. Running forward is done by walking forward and gradually building up momentum as is done in games like Sonic the Hedgehog (GEN) and Faxanadu (NES).

Pressing the B button will fire the currently equipped weapon or will engage in a melee strike if a weapon is not selected. The melee combat features different attacks depending on the D-pad press and the B Button. These martial arts attacks range from simple jabs to roundhouse kicks. Lastly, the player can cycle through his or her weapons and items in the inventory, which is confined to five total items at one time. With that said, Zero Tolerance has a pretty robust feature set which is comfortably housed within the Genesis controller.

However, this title has a some control quirks that can potentially affect the game play. One of the most prominent oddity occurs when walking or running forward and immediately going into a backpedal. Rather than to a logical halt and moving in reverse, the character will almost slowly slide to a stop as if he or she is a train on rails. This also happens when turning left and suddenly trying to turn in the opposite direction. It feels almost as if the player is skating on a soapy floor and feels awkward. This is not simply restricted to the main character, as enemies will suffer from this slippery movement as well. This design quirk can be circumvented by first letting go of the D-pad before moving in a different direction, but this is easier said then done and takes time to acclimate to. This can make combat difficult at times, as getting shot will push your character wildly in a direction and slide. Nonetheless, the controls of this title are well configured so that the challenge lies in the game play itself, not fighting with cripple and clunky controls.

Another issue is with crouching and sneaking. While this is a neat feature, there is no way to remain in a crouched position indefinitely. Thus, going through long stretches that require sneaking are tedious because the character will automatically stand back up straight after only seconds of crouching. If engaging in a crouch was a toggling action as opposed to temporary, this would not be such an issue.

The systems and overall framework of Zero Tolerance is, without a doubt, very fascinating in its implementation. The main game play screen takes on the framework of a multi windowed layout and is very reminiscent of the first person shooter role playing game Pathways Into Darkness (MAC) and Marathon (MAC) with the main view screen taking up a fraction of the entire display. Knowing that this game runs solely on stock hardware sans graphics accelerator assistance, the truncation of the main view screen was a necessary design choice meant to facilitate the 3D engine’s stability when in play.

The rest of the screen is populated with heads up display elements that show a five slotted inventory subscreen, enemy and health point counters, a dynamic messenger that gives updates, a dynamically refreshing minimap and the selected character’s ID card. It is an interesting way to feed the player useful information without having to pause the game to refer to the full map and observe the full inventory. The only HUD element that is borderline unnecessary is the ID card, which just sticks out like a sore thumb as serving no function except for taking up a portion of space to fill out the rest of the screen.Though game running at a relatively stable frame rate, players may find the truncated view screen as being a painful sacrifice. However, the game is designed with this decision in mind and makes for it with HUD elements that are very helpful to the player.

The minimap is one of the most important tools at the player’s disposal. As mentioned before it refreshes on the fly, always showing the character’s current position and direction. Walls are represented by solid yellow blocks and match the level’s geometric layout exactly. The player is presented as a yellow point with his or her facing direction being show as a dashed line that strobes. Enemies are shown only when alerted and are painted as red points on the map. This map not only aids in navigating the labyrinth like levels, but also aid in combating alerted enemies that are shrouded in darkness from a distance.

One of the most import aspects of any first person shooter is having a good arsenal of weapons and items for the player to utilize and Zero Tolerance offers a feature heavy array of weapons. This eclectic assortment of equipment complements a plethora of game play features and allows for many different play styles when used in tandem with certain characters. This game is just flush with useful effects to collect and use.

Weapons range from simple handguns to rocket launchers and offer a bit in between. The handgun is basic, but is useful for taking down enemies in tight close quartered sections. The shotgun surprisingly has a decent range and has the largest shot radius of all the ranged weapons. Pulse laser guns offer the firepower at the longest distances. Laser aimed guns are the only weapons that are fully automatic and do well with crowd control from a moderate distance. Flamethrowers have a woefully low ammunition capacity, but deal immense amounts of damage and leave sustained flames that can damage enemies that are trying to encroach on your position.

There are a few explosive weapons that are a quick and definitive solution to dispatching large groups of hostiles. Though these weapons are very effective against enemies they can also pose serious harm to the player. Making sure you are a safe distance away and do not place explosives in a cluster, which will set off a chain reaction, is imperative. Proximity mines are very useful for setting traps for enemies trying to approach and has a moderate blast radius. Rocket launchers hurl fast projectiles and offer the largest blast radius, dealing profuse amounts of damage. Hand grenades offer a range of uses to the player. They can be lobbed at enemies from a distance and have a decent blast radius. The most innovative feature of the grenades involves being able to ricochet them off of walls depending on the angle of attack. This can prove useful for preforming take down maneuvers and breaching new rooms to take out enemies near the entrance. This use of rudimentary physics in this respect, along with previously mentioned weapons, is doubtlessly a feature that sets Zero Tolerance apart from its contemporaries.

The list of tools at the player’s disposal is also pretty staggering. The equipment ranges from bullet proof vests to night vision goggles. Bullet proof vests offer protection from damage taking any form. The player’s health is not affected until the vest’s durability is depleted. Bio scanners detect enemies that have not yet been alerted to the player’s presence and paints them on the dynamic minimap. Flashlights are a simple solution for traversing levels that have low level lighting or no lighting at all and spotting enemies that would be normally shrouded in the dark. These have a limited range and range of effect. Night vision goggles do not have this issue as they take both of the picture, allowing the player to see enemies from great distances in complete darkness. When it comes to traversing environments that are on fire in areas there are two solutions. Fire extinguishers can put patches of flames out as expected. Fire suits allow the player to negate the potentially tedious process of putting the flames out and can simply walk about unharmed by burning spaces. Some of this equipment and the challenges constructed to require these solutions offer challenges that help to diversify the standard FPS game play conventions of the time.

However, this large collection of equipment cannot be carried at one time because of the inventory, which restricts the player to only being capable of holding five items at a time. This includes both weapons and tools, which forces you to really focus on the things that suite your strategy and the character you are using. Taking into account that items cannot be dropped, inventory management can be potentially infuriating. Another detracting aspect is that some items, when collected, engage automatically and cannot be turned off and run out of life on their own. This makes some items act only as temporary powerups and not fixtures that can be toggled on or off at will. Despite this, these items are welcome additions in any capacity and add new elements to the FPS formula.

While the bestiary of enemies to dispose of in Zero Tolerance may not be large, it is big and varied enough to challenge the player. The two biggest threats in the game consist of the alien forces invading Earth and the automated machine/robot sentries in the Planet Defense Corps headquarters that shoot anything on sight. While artificial enemies only detect on sight, organic enemies can detect based on sight and hearing. Regardless of the type of enemy you face, all adversaries are extremely aggressive; more so than in other FPS games of the time. Alien troop will run run at you shooting and beast creatures will charge your position at a breakneck speed, only giving you tenths of a second to react. It is very easy to get overwhelmed by just a few enemies at one time, making this an incredibly difficult game.

The level design in Zero Tolerance has been addressed, but the wide range of aesthetic and mechanical features that put it above its competition on consoles has not. There are a few visual touches added to the mix that help push this title above the the standards of the genre for the time. Shooting organic enemies causes blood to fly out of them in the air and onto the floor as well as nearby walls. Blood splatters on the floor eventually sink into the ground and blood that hits a wall will slowly drip down, eventually dissipating into nothingness. Some wall areas are partially destructible as are glass windows. Objects like rockets and grenades will fall out when thrown at broken windows and will ricochet off of windows that are still intact. Some enemies crawl along floor, walls and the ceiling. Creature enemies, when shot, will either die outright or will twitch while lying on the floor incapacitated. Bipedal enemies bleed out when collapsed on the floor. Going from one floor to the next can be accomplished by using elevators or stairs, in which the engine used for the visuals actually showcases true height differences. Floors and ceilings alike are populated with objects like lights, debris and security cameras that all animate. The backgrounds that can be seen through windows are all alive with animation. These are just some of the technological features that other console based FPS games do not have and a few of these do not even exist in PC FPS titles of the era. It is pretty clear cut that the world of Zero Tolerance surprisingly well wrought.

The sound effects in this game help to enhance the visuals and makes shooting guns and fighting the enemies incredibly satisfying. The shotgun sound alone packs such a punch that you really feel the power behind it. The same applies to all other weapons as they have appropriate sound attached to them. The noises that the aliens make when alerted and killed are bold and bombastic. The sound, married with the visuals, gives the action of this game such grit and crunch that never falls flat or waivers. Unfortunately, the music is a completely different subject entirely. The game’s score can be essentially described using the name of the development company, Technopop. There are not many tracks to begin with and the few songs that do exist are not necessarily great. They are extremely minimalistic to the point where there is no difference between the beginning, middle or end of the songs. These melodies do fit the setting of Zero Tolerance, but not exactly the action. all of these tracks are short, which does not help. Though not terrible, the music comes off being decent, but not memorable.

The single player mode in Zero Tolerance is already a feature rich package that is immensely entertaining, but this console FPS goes above and beyond by offering a two player mode. By using a proprietary cable, exclusively used for this title alone, two systems can be linked together via a direct serial connection to allow two friends to tackle the game’s 40 level campaign cooperatively as a two man insertion team. This mode plays realistically, as both players can hurt one another if not careful and cooperative. This is where the choice of characters, based on there areas of expertise, and the strategic use of weapons coupled with a squad mate makes for an incredible experience that is without equal to date. It is not only a great feature with lots of replay value, but it is one of the best FPS modes since Deathmatch in Doom (PC).

There is absolutely no question that this is an incredibly ambitious game that punches high above its own weight. It is an action packed first person shooter that makes strides in pushing the standards of the genre for both consoles and personal computers alike. With solid game play, intuitive controls, well wrought visuals and equally satisfying sound effects this is an astounding achievement for the Sega Genesis. The movement quirks can annoy, the truncated view screen may feel a tad restrictive from the outset and the music may not be stellar, but these minor blemishes are practically overshadowed by everything this game does impeccably well. If you are a diehard Genesis or have an affinity for first person shooters of this era then you are bound to like Zero Tolerance.

 

 

Rating IV-V

Solid State Romcast: The 11-5-14 Show

On this relatively low key Romcast Jon and Matt Break into the news story about how the Oculus Rift VR headset is closer to release than we all may think. Also, they talk up some Grand Theft Auto V and discuss the announcement of a first person mode for the game on PS4, Xbox One and PC. Is this a welcome addition, or is it something that could break the experience? Lastly, Jon expresses his undying love for Faith Connors and Mirror’s as both he and Matt express why this game is interesting as well as their concerns for the upcoming recreation by EA DICE. Check it out!!


Solid State Romcast – Solid State Romcast 11-5-14 Show

 

Be sure to drop us a line at our E-mail address: solidstateromcast@gmail.com. As always, thanks for listening and stayed tuned for the next installment!

 

Solid State Romcast Crew:

Jon “San Juan” Rivera – Host

Matt “Off” White – Cohost

 

Music Credit:

Introduction Theme – Car Jack [2011 version] by Electric Children

Interlude No. 1 – Unknown Track A by ???

Interlude No. 2 – Unknown Track B by ???

Roundtable Theme – Pumped by RoccoW

Resolution Theme – Skip Sandwich DX By Electric Children

Solid State Romcast: The 10-27-14 Show

This time around on the Romcast, the big three talk some more about the Chris Roberts game Star Citizen; most specifically the newly announced first person shooter module for it. Will Juan finally get his chance to do heavy tactical engineering work as opposed to Isaac Clark, who uses company time to go around shooting Necromorphs??

After that, the crew has a powwow at the Super Soul headquarters in Lex-Vegas, KY with John Meister (Technical Developer) as well as Richie Hoagland (Creative Director) about their upcoming PS4 game Speakeasy: Fisticuff League. Running the gamut, the five guys (sans burgers and fries) talk about how the project first started and the meat of the game play. Finally we have the answer to the age old question: Hat physics??

Lastly, the guys have an epic roundtable discussion about horror in games and how they have evolved to what they have become. Also they question as to whether or not Horror themed games are in a dark rut and if there may a pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel for this troubled genre. Find out exactly why breast physic are out and hat physics are in, on this latest Romcast!!

 

Solid State Romcast 10-27-14 Show

 

Be sure to drop us a line at our E-mail address: solidstateromcast@gmail.com. As always, thanks for listening and stayed tuned for the next installment!

 

Solid State Romcast Crew:

Jon “San Juan” Rivera – Host

Matt “Off” White – Cohost

Richard “Durrty” Hunt – Eastern Connection

 

Music Credit:

Introduction Theme – Car Jack [2011 version] by Electric Children

Interlude No. 1 – Unknown Track A by ???

Interlude No. 2 – Unknown Track B by ???

Roundtable Theme – Pumped by RoccoW

Resolution Theme – Skip Sandwich DX By Electric Children