Zanzarah: The Hidden Portal
Before I jumped into Zanzarah: The Hidden Portal I had heard a lot of people compare the game to Pokémon. That right there was more than enough to get me excited and want to try this game out. It was first released all the way back in 2002 so it is not exactly what you would call a new game. Still, the premise was interesting enough that I decided it was finally time for me to give this game the good old college try.
Save Zanzarah & Save Yourself
The plot of the game is not exactly going to win any awards, but it is a fun fantasy type affair that gets the job done. The main character of the game is Amy and she is growing up in London when she finds a goblin! She eventually ends up being transported to the magical land of Zanzarah where this goblin informs her that a great evil is rising and he needs her help to stop it.
The plot is not exactly award-winning stuff, but if you like fantasy stories then I am sure the plot of Zanzarah: The Hidden Portal is going to keep you invested right until the end. The visuals of the game are a tad rough by today's standard and the animations are also a little “off” as well. It most certainly looks and moves like a game that is the better part of 20 years old that is for sure.
Gotta Catch Them All
The gameplay is split into two different types. The first is in the 3rd person. Here you are exploring different areas, talking to characters, moving the plot along and so on just like you would expect. I do wish there was more interacting with Amy and the somewhat strange inhabitants of this land if I am being honest. Much of what you are doing is trying to capture fairies as you use these fairies in battle and there are many different types of fairies.
The battles are all done with fairies. You can fight other fairy trainers or you can come across a fairy out in the world and fight them that way. When you do one of these fairy fights, the game turns into a first-person shooter. The idea of this is really, really cool, but the game feels rather sluggish, especially when it comes to avoiding enemy attacks.
There are many types of fairy and different fairies are better at fighting others. For example, a water fairy will be better at dishing out damage to a fire one. Knowing what fairy to use is really the key to getting through this. You will have to level your fairies up as you play, but I found it more to be about the type of fairy you were using rather than how much grinding you did.
I think that there are some very interesting ideas in Zanzarah: The Hidden Portal and I certainly would love to see this game revisited, but with modern gaming mechanics. While the controls are not the best and the visuals are showing their age. I still had a pretty fun time with this one. It is an interesting take on the fantasy genre and I liked the idea of how it would switch to a first-person shooter for the battles. It may not be great, but it is still worth taking a look at.
- I liked the idea of the game
- It offers first person shooter action
- Lots of different fairies for you to collect
- I enjoyed the sound design of the game
- It does not overstay its welcome
- The FPS sections are a bit on the sluggish side
- The graphics really do show their age
Download Zanzarah: The Hidden Portal
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
On The surface, Zanzarah: The Hidden Portal may appear childish and unsuitable for a mature PC audience (we’re talking fighting fairies here). Yet to my surprise, it’s actually a surprisingly playable blend of third-person RPG/adventure and no-nonsense FPS.
Playing the part of a heroine named Amy, your mission is to save the world of Zanzarah from evil fairies and elves. Effectively this means hiring several 'good’ fairy bouncers for protection and chatting to swamp goblins, dwarves, pixies and other peculiar beasts to procure items and clues to help in your quest.
Combat takes place in the aforementioned FPS mode and sees your fairies (you can have a maximum of five per battle that you can flip between) take on wild fairies in a FPS deathmatch scenario. Fairies can be equipped with offensive and defensive magic powers and they gain experience and spells by dispatching their foes. You can also capture new fairies (there are 77 in total) and train them up.
Ultimately, Zanzarah’s juvenile subject matter may limit its appeal, but praise is still due to developer Funatics for being adventurous and trying something different. In short, Zanzarah is Pokemon meets Unreal Tournament with a splattering of Nintendo’s Zelda: Ocarina of Time. What’s more, it’s a great attempt at an original game. Well worth a look.