Friday 24 September 2021

Z Pak: Fun (Tapwave Zodiac review)

Developer: Megasoft
Publisher: Tapwave
Released: 2003

Z Pak: Fun is a collection of three games that all require use of the touch screen. 

Kickoo's Breakout has 36 levels where you bounce a ball off your paddle to destroy bricks. The touch screen controls are generally fine and afford you precision ricochet angles, but reloading a level after losing a ball is painfully slow as every brick draws back in individually (taking you out of the flow). I also don't like how often the annoying Reverse control item appears. The stages don't offer anything you haven't already seen in Arkanoid (1986, Arcade), but overall it's a mildly entertaining diversion for a couple of stages. MegaBowling has three throwing modes and multiplayer capabilities that offer some variety in short bursts. The timing mechanics in Arcade (press and release a metre to bowl) and Swing (stop a moving overhead icon to line-up your angle) are susceptible to offering strikes in certain spots, but swerving the ball for a spare is satisfying. Stroke mode challenges you to to swipe the touch screen to bowl and it's highly accurate even when throwing diagonally from a corner. However, throughout all three modes getting a split appears to give you zero chance of achieving a spare, as there's no knock-on effect to the other stray pins. PaintBall tasks you with making three or more balls of the same colour next to a pipe opening. The controls are perfect and the decreasing paint level acts as the game's much needed tension. A cool feature is how one ball can subtly shimmer and by quickly removing it from the playfield you can earn extra points. Also, the stimulating Chroma mode cleverly works your noggin by tasking you with mixing colours to create the necessary combination. The atmosphere is lacking though and there's no fanfare for lining up 4-5 coloured balls in a row.

Z Pak: Fun is a solid, yet unremarkable collection of games, but those looking for simple time-wasters will find some enjoyment in these titles. Each controls and plays well enough and while you won't find any deep mechanics or innovation you'll likely find yourself having a game or two when you boot up the Zodiac.

Random trivia: Another compilation titled Z Pak: Adventure was released on the Tapwave Zodiac in 2004.

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