Saturday 15 October 2016

Dropzone (NES review)

Developer: Eurocom Entertainment Software
Publisher: Mindscape, Inc.
Released: 1992

Dropzone is a European exclusive shooter that was first released in the Arcades in 1984.

It's clearly inspired by Defender (1981, Arcades) and the objective is to wipe out waves of aliens while rescuing humans and delivering them to the landing pad. A handy map at the bottom shows you the location of all enemies and once they've been eliminated you move onto the next level. To attack you can either use a Laser gun or a limited amount of Strata Bombs to wipe out everything on screen. The aliens have individual characteristics as some blow up into smaller lasers when hit, while others home in on your direction. Gameplay-wise, the action is intense and you truly feel like you're alone, fighting for survival against a never-ending swarm of foes. The constant multi-tasking is what makes things so enjoyable, as you're always strategising and making decisions about whether to quickly pick up a stranded, at-risk human or destroy enemies in your path. The ability to rapid-fire shoot is great too, as you can unleash a barrage of bullets around the play-area by continually hitting Button 1. Speedy and powerful Nmeyes aliens appear if you take too long and their impending arrival makes you rush around in a similar fashion to Evil Otto from Berzerk (1980, Arcades). The controls are okay but they're a little too sensitive for my liking, as tapping Up on the d-pad once can see you soaring from the floor to the top of the screen. The action is incredibly fast and challenging as the CPU shows no mercy (even from the outset) and some difficulty options would have been beneficial. The main problem though is the lack of options, as despite this being an eight-year-old game there's only a single mode on offer.

While Dropzone isn't the most original title, it successfully packages bits and pieces from other Arcade games to create a fast and frenetic shooter that's worthy of your time. Its unfortunate downfall is the miniscule amount of content that's included and it's tough to shake the feeling that this was a bit of a lazy cash-in by Mindscape.

Random trivia: A port was also released on the Nintendo Game Boy in 1992.

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