Lock and load.
Riding the wave of acclaim that followed the recent release of Crimzon Clover: WORLD IGNITION, Degica are back with XII ZEAL. This Steam version represents the first English localisation of the popular arcade shoot-em up (shump) that was originally developed by Triangle Service.
XII Zeal is not a bullet-hell shump, although there are still plenty of bullets to dodge. Instead, the game offers a fast-paced experience that is more in line with classical shooters of previous gaming eras. XII Zeal has some very nice pixel graphics that have a good level of detail. There are plenty of enemies to wipe out ranging from tanks, ships, planes and evil robots. Finally there are the boss fights, featuring giant enemies which the player must strategically shoot to pieces bit by bit.
There are several modes available to get stuck into. Arcade Mode features eight stages of action, while Score Attack Mode allows the player to practice individual stages and chase high scores. Scores are tracked on global leader boards and the Steam iteration also features achievements. All of this is accompanied by a great soundtrack that perfectly matches the hectic game play.
Wiggle, wiggle, boom!
XII Zeal also features an original and interesting component to its game play mechanics that sets it apart from other titles in the shump genre. The player is equipped with the standard tools of the trade for any shooter – a ship that can fire guns and drop bombs. However, in XII Zeal the player also has the ability to use a ‘side fire’ mechanic which, essentially, is exactly what it sounds like: shooting out of the side of the ship rather than straight ahead. Side fire is a useful feature and the unique game play aspect that makes XII Zeal worth checking out. It can be controlled by wiggling the controller stick from side to side, which puts the ship into a roll and triggers the side fire weapon.
There is also an auto feature for side fire in the control schematic. While this allows the player to more efficiently stack up scoring multipliers, it also, somewhat unfortunately, makes this original mechanic a little more simplistic to use than might have originally been intended. Essentially, it’s a lot easier to just rely on the auto feature.
In short, there’s not a lot wrong with XII Zeal. It’s not revolutionary and it doesn’t rewrite the shump genre. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. XII Zeal is a very solid game and offers good value for money. The fact that it isn’t a bullet-hell game means things never feel too overwhelming. Instead, XII Zeal delivers a fun and enjoyable experience that’s both accessible and can be enjoyed in short bursts.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.