|Editor Rating:||7/10, based on 1 review|
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It should come as no surprise to anyone that games with "mercenary" in their titles tend to be action contests with a whole lot of fightin' going on. In this respect Zarlor Mercenary is no exception. In the game you are a mercenary hired by the Zarlors to fight off the invading forces of the Melogites. Your typically mercenary goal is to gain wealth for fighting, and you are rewarded in monetary units called "Zarbits." The more destruction you cause, the more money you'll make.
At the end of each mission--if you survive it--you can take your ill-gotten gains to the Mercenary Mercantile to buy such goods as more deadly weapons or even another ship! Likewise, you can sell things you've picked up or even one of your remaining ships in order to get cash to buy a desirable item.
You start by picking which of the seven different mercenaries you wish to be. Each mercenary starts off with a particular weapon. For instance, Scorch starts off with a laser, which can be picked up right away on Level 1, so you may not find it as useful as an item one of the others is equipped with.
Zarlor Mercenary is an overhead vertically scrolling contest. The screen scrolls at a constant rate, and you are free to move all about it. In fact, the actual area you can move in is more than one screen in width, making it easy to miss a valuable Power Globe or stumble across a previously undiscovered target or enemy.
Your ship's firepower is considerable, but even augmented by purchased weapons and Power Globes, it's a rough ride. Blasting like mad isn't enough. You have to really dance around the enemy firepower while trying to get a bead on your target...and I'm not talking bombs falling straight down the screen. I'm talking energy bolts and missiles coming from above, left, right and diagonally!
Sometimes it's impossible to avoid being hit. Fortunately, your ship doesn't explode from just any hit. It takes a certain amount of damage to blow your ship to smithereens.
Zarlor Mercenary features exceptional graphics and better than average sound. If you can take a moment away from blasting, you'll notice the amount of graphic detailing put into the backgrounds and even the enetion to images of the wares you can buy and sell. Oddly enough, the best graphic in the game is the closing screen that appears when you die, which shows a wrecked spacecraft smoking on an alien landscape.
Zailor Mercenary allows between one and four players via ComLynx. You might think it would be a lot easier to get through the game with more players, and in some ways it is. But the game stacks the deck against large mercenary forces by cutting back the number of lives per player the more players there are. In a one-player game you can have up to four ships to start with. In four-player mode that number is cut to two. Ouch!
If I had one complaint with this game it would be that it's too hard initially. The first level isn't very tough, but the second is murder. It's easy to get frustrated and quit when you keep getting pulverized by the swamp denizens of Mezort.