I vividly remember playing this game for the first time. It was at my cousin’s house just outside of New York City circa 1988. I thought it was pretty damn cool but I never really got to play it again until emulators and roms became a thing in the late ’90s.
I’ve never played the game all the way through though, so I figured I’d revisit it in an effort to try and kick its ass so that I didn’t have to review it with my tail between my legs.
Well, I kicked its ass… but it was definitely not a cakewalk.
The reason being is actually my biggest gripe about the game.
The main problem I have with Section Z is that its not really clear which gate to take at the end of each stage and how you’re supposed to progress. So I had to read up on that a little and I got the gist of it. Kids in 1988 without the Internet probably lost their hair before middle school.
Anyway, there are basically three sets of levels. To beat each one, you have to get to the level with the barrier shield and destroy it. Once you do that, you’ve got to figure out which gate will then advance you to the next section of levels. Along the way there are also some cool boss fights. I thought that the final boss was solid because it looked cooler than anything else in the game and the fight was fun.
The gameplay is pretty good and fluid. I like the mechanics, they’re easy to use and understand and even though the levels can get repetitive, you don’t get bored. Well, unless you’re stuck in a loop of stages you can’t find your way out of because there’s no way to really know where to go without a guide or a walkthrough.
Section Z is nowhere close to being a perfect game or one you’ll be dying to play after beating it but it’s a really satisfying side scrolling shooter that is good at killing time on a rainy day.
Pairs well with: other 8-bit side scrolling shooters in a sci-fi setting. For example: Gradius, Lifeforce, MagMax, Seicross, etc.