Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom

When I was growing up, many of the kids in my hometown loved watching Buck Rogers. I would watch it with them, but I must admit I was really just going through the motions. My heart belonged to classic Trek and to a lesser extent to Battlestar Galactica. Still, when you are young, a friend’s enthusiasm can be very contagious. I remember one friend being very excited when it was announced that they were making a video game version of Buck Rogers and he must have been the only one to line up for a copy of “Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom” when it came out.

We got it home, popped it in and within in 30 minutes we were bored. I remember his disappointment very clearly and it added trepidation to my decision to replay this game decades later. At first glance, the game seems like a good idea – A slalom-style game paired with a shooter. Sadly the concept is one the strongest parts of the game. The implementation of the game is sloppy and feels rushed.

The game puts you at the helm of a spaceship, where you will race between obstacles while a clever meter at the time counts down. After a pre-arranged period of time you will be faced with a wave of ships you need to survive. Do that, and you will move onto the boss screen. Kill both halves of the boss and move onto level 2. Sounds like a decent game right?

Well, to start off with, the collision detection is questionable, so you are not sure who you are colliding with or if your shots will connect. The graphics are jumpy, the colour palette is poorly chosen and worst of all, it is repetitive. So, if you master the skills needed and have a little luck on the collision the game doesn’t become challenging for about a dozen levels. Maybe adding level selection could have helped?

I want to say I absolutely HATE this game, but in truth, I do not. Despite its many flaws, the games pacing still makes it a fairly satisfying experience after you get into the higher levels. Add to that the innovative gameplay combo and the cool timer and you’ve got something, not much, but something. I give this game 2 out 5 stars, but I feel had Sega taken the time to fix the problems with the game before kicking it out the door, it could have easily been a 3 or even 4 star game (Sega rushing something to market before it’s ready? You surprise me -Ed).

Gameplay Video

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