[Demo] Zenodyne R
Zenodyne R is a retro style 90’s inspired vertical shooter, where memorising bullet patterns is the order of the day. It’s highly derivative – following pretty standard conventions of the decade such as different ships to choose from, powerups and large boss encounters. And, apparently, starting the name of the game with one of last three letters of the alphabet (see: Xydonia, Z-Exemplar)
The graphical style, while not as careful in its attention to detail as Xydonia, perhaps, does a serviceable enough job with its chunky, colorful pixel display, and sports a decent YM2612 fuelled soundtrack. The action is also about as fast and frantic as you could want it to be, at most times flooded with enemies and bullets (for better or worse), with a healthy dose of sub-bosses followed up by the obligatory larger, multi-stage bosses.
Added to this is a dash of modern elements, seen here in the form of the ability to choose an “easy” or “hard” path through the levels (which seems to affect the complexity of the bullet patterns but not the levels themselves) and, in the full game, ability to earn points with which to buy persistent upgrades – such as more ships. Sure, nothing we haven’t really seen before, but all things that are demonstrably proven to work in games such as these.
So all the ingredients are sitting in the pot ready to simmer, and yet, unfortunately, I can’t quite wholeheartedly recommend what I saw of Zenodyne R. Why? For one thing, the screen space is claustrophobically small, even by the lower res standards of the era, and not helping matters is the sheer busyness of the stuff onscreen at once, making it hard to really see what’s going on. The “medals” which fall out of exploded enemies add a great amount of clutter to the screen and also happen to be shaped like spaceships flying towards you. You know what else looks like spaceships and flies towards you? That’s right, the things trying to kill you.
Having said that, it is possible to pretty reliably dodge the masses of bullets coming at you – provided you concentrate hard enough on the screen. The game also balances things somewhat by being somewhat generous, giving you unlimited lives at the expense of keeping score, so if you’re in it for casual explosions then it’s easy enough to slog through the whole demo.
Perhaps it’s just me, though, since, having played and written about so many indie efforts by now, my standards have gotten a little fussier of late (note: ‘fussier’, but not necessarily ‘higher’), and bullet hell is a bit too hot for me compared the suburban hell I already am used to, anyway. Although some other reviews do share similar sentiments… albeit with the usual lovely comments barrage about “not playing the game right”.
In any case, Zenodyne R is an honest enough little indie effort – even if it wasn’t up my space alley it may be the right space stop for you – and the demo at least is worth a play to find out.
Zenodyne R | buy or download demo