Zed Blade is another game in the ACA Neo Geo series of game revivals from Hamster Corporation. it is a side scrolling 2D shoot ’em up, similar to classic games like R-Type, originally released in 1994 from NMK.
It gives you the option to choose from three different ships, ranging in speed, three different front shot types, missile types, and rear shot types before playing. The game contains 4 modes: a recreation of the English and Japanese arcade versions of the game, which are standard level based game modes, as well as a hi-score mode, and caravan mode.
Like Magical Drop II, the hi-score mode is a nonstop challenge mode that ends once you get a game over, for those trying to reach the hi-score on the online leaderboards, and caravan mode is like hi-score mode, but with a 5-minute time limitation.
The gameplay I found to be enjoyable, with just the right amount of difficulty to it. It was often filled with high intensity, and while I died pretty frequently, I never found it to be too frustrating, especially since I could give myself unlimited continues at the push of a button.
Like any good shoot ’em up you can expect the screen to be nearly filled with bullets as the game gets further along, which is a pretty intense experience, but also came with one issue, if you choose certain shot types it can be very difficult to discern where shots are going at times. This wasn’t a game breaking issue by any means, but it did get annoying a couple times when I died and couldn’t quite figure out why.
The music that accompanies each level I found to be fitting not only the theme of the level, but also matched the intensity of the game. Each track was good and fairly memorable, but most importantly it added to the overall excitement of the game.
The main game mode itself, story mode if you will, is pretty short, and could easily be beaten in one sitting, but is a blast to play. The addition of the hi-score modes is a welcome one, and can provide some added challenge to those looking for some more action.
Because of its arcade nature Zed Blade might not offer the same longevity that a modern “epic” might, but it is a blast to play. Being able to customize your ship to an extent was nice, and the added hi-score and caravan modes, coupled with the online leaderboards, adds some nice replayability for those who like striving for that top score.
Overall, it’s a game I think any shoot ‘em up fans could enjoy, and while short, I think there is enough content to make it a worthwhile game, especially at its excellent asking price. 8.5/10
*This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, it is also available for Switch, PS4, and PC*