Panda Indie Studio have been a great asset to shmup lovers that play on console. They’ve been releasing a gluttony of budget titles for us to enjoy over the last few years and I recently got my hand on Z-Warp. It follows their almost standard garish graphical design that will make your eyes bleed and brings along some interesting mechanics too. its fast and furious but extremely short.
Z-Warp is as much about your secondary bombs as it is about the main shooting weapon, which is chargeable with press and release or auto fire with a hold. I auto fired my way through the game to be honest but as you shoot and hit enemies, your bomb charge builds up quicker. This allows you to fire off a bomb when you hit 50% charge but if you can hold off longer your bomb will clear more enemies and their enemy fire from the screen. From level 1’s boss onwards, you’ll often be faced with walls and barriers of enemy bullets and so you’ll be using the bombs to break through and stopping you losing a life. Bosses revolve around this mechanic too which many of their waves of attacks being built around finding holes in the barrage to hide in and charge your bomb until the inescapable wave occurs. Aggression and jet placement is key here.
The game is frantic, fast, responsive and once you get past the initial eye bleeding graphics, an arcade joy to play. The problem is its length. At 4 levels, you’ll be through Z-Warp in no time and whilst harder difficulties unlock that really do up the ante and provide new attack patterns for everything, there is still only about 10 enemies. An endless mode is available for score chasers though.
I bought Z-Warp on a sale so I’m quite happy that I got my money’s worth for a couple of pounds. I don’t think this is Panda Indie Studio’s finest shmup so far, Project Starship X is their best so far. This is an interesting oddity to sate your shmup needs for an hour or two though. Just wear sunglasses before you start!
Nice mechanics and easy controls are compromised by a very short game that doesn't differentiate itself from others from the developer. For genre collectors only.
Bomb mechanic works really well.
Each difficulty does feel like a genuine step up in challenge with new attack patterns for most enemies.
Zippy controls and decent collision detection.
Graphics will be marmite.
Really, really short.
Doesn't feel massively different from the Project Starship, Project Starship X or Void Gore.
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