Saturday, September 5, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Section Z

Retro Game of the Day! Section Z

Section Z by Capcom, released to arcades in late 1985 and appearing on the NES in 1987. AH YES - look at that bad-ass boxart. Look at it. What 12-year-old kid in his right mind would not want to own a game with a box that looked like that?

A rare breed of game, Section Z was a horizontal shooter ("yay, a horzie!") made by Capcom during a time when they actually produced a fair amount of such things (well, I believe shooters must not have been too difficult to plan or program during those days). Like many of the other Capcom shooters, they eschewed the idea of "a dude in a ship" and instead gave you a humanoid character to assault the enemy armada with (see the recent Legendary Wings write-up). So you're this little guy in a suit, or robot, or whatever, The graphics looked good for the time; a little garish in places, but overall detailed and nicely-styled.

And the music! Man this game sure had some groovy music. How to describe? "Space Dancey," oh hell I dunno. It was really dorky but also kinda catchy. Funny stuff. As usual all the sound FX had that usual "Capcom Flair" for which many of their game were known for, back then. Note that the screen immediately above this text is the arcade screen, the rest are NES shots.

Note as well, there were definitely some serious differences between the two versions (as I always mention, such things were far from unusual back in those days!) It's true, in the 8-bit days particularly the home versions of titles were often considered "based, roughly, on the gameplay/style/story from the arcade." This was always disappointing, but accepted. Never having seen the arcade until MAME, it was interesting to note that there even WAS an arcade unit, years later. I never made it far (into either version) but the changes were noticable.

The game - fly your character through the corridors, A shoots forward-facing and B turns around and shoots behind you (interesting setup, worked well). Collect the usual power-up elements to even the odds a little, fly through each zone trying to reach the end so you can destroy the big boss. Nifty gimmicks, ultimately immaterial for such a dated game. But still it was shooty, it'd had a good vibe, and especially at the time this was a quality title on Nintendo's tiny release list.

I'll give Section Z a thumbs-up then, I do want to investigate the arcade version more. The game is not terribly enthralling, it was sort of dank and lonely/depressing like the Metroid games (ah...ahem. Ahem) and can't have aged too well, but worth a look if you like the theme.

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