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North America


by Zosha Arushan - December 8, 2002, 10:03 pm EST


Never try breeding Crickets with Frogs. Ever.

The premise is simple: traverse various worlds to collect Eggs and finally save Zapper’s little brother from Maggie the Magpie. Can’t be so bad, right? Unfortunately, that is far from true.

The first thing I noticed is that the game is essentially a glorified version of Frogger, with the character having to hop one square at a time while avoiding obstacles. Notice I didn’t say enemies. “Enemies” in this game have absolutely no AI and merely circle a pre-destined path, and you merely are required to avoid them. That’s it. I suppose this is a good thing because actually controlling Zapper is akin to Sisyphus attempting to roll that boulder up the mountain in Hades.

To say that they are merely “bad” is an understatement. Characters are forced to hop along one square ahead in this tile-based world and cannot turn in place without tapping either the L or R button. That may seem not all that horrible until you consider the fact that the game expects you to jump platforms quickly without the leisure of looking around. A quick example: some tiles shoot fire under them, and if Zapper is touched by it, he will die. Now, imagine a level mostly composed of deadly lava, with a small, cris-crossing path made up of said tiles. Exactly.

It doesn’t help that at times the “tiles” are at times hard to differentiate between and you’ll always be second-guessing if you should just “hop” by pressing the D-pad or “Super Jump” by tapping the B button. I’ve also noted that the moving obstacles that would normally be termed “enemies” have poor hit detection — and not in your favour. I’ve been on a tile entirely above an enemy, and it will kill me because its head is taller than the tile and therefore magically touches the one I am standing on. The game has also crashed on me three times while I was saving.

The actual gameplay is simply boring. Zapper’s objective is to find Six Magpie eggs per level before he can leave, while collecting Blue Orbs along the way. That’s right. You cannot complete a level until you’ve found every egg in the area. That means if you successfully managed to get to the portal at the end of an area, and missed some egg in a dangerous spot, you have to backtrack until you find one. That’s not all. There are certain tiles filled with the power of fireflies, which will enhance your attack. Let me note that Zapper’s default electrical charge is powerless and can’t destroy anything other than wooden crates. That’s it. You cannot even rid yourself of enemies unless you charge up your antenna. The level design often forces you to do so in order to destroy metal crates, which constantly (and “conveniently”) block your path. Adding to this annoying backtracking, is the fact that you must collect a certain number of Blue Orbs before the fireflies will charge your attack. There are multiple tiles per level and each has a different number requirement.

The only remotely amusing levels in the game are the bonus stages, which usually revolve around Zapper riding a coal cart through some sort of mine. However it gets old after the first time and doesn’t make up for the bad level design that prevails over the rest of the title.

Graphically speaking the game is merely average. Nicely rendered backgrounds and fancy Mode 7 hacks are weighed down by poorly drawn sprites with sloppy animation. Even Zapper himself is far from a technical achievement, and he was clearly given more time and effort than anything else in the game.

To complement the graphics is technically impressive but incredibly generic music. Samples are nice, while melodies are not. Short annoying loops and the overuse of the “record scratching” sound effect will make you want to play with the volume muted. Sound effects are bland and nothing to write home about.

The main problem with this title is that the fundamental game design is flawed, and when added to an atrocious control system and boring game objectives, it makes for a title that just should not have been released. It is games like this that make me wish there was a special corner in Hell reserved for mediocrity.


Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
6.5 6 2 4.5 5 4

Pre-rendered backgrounds look nice, but enemy sprites are coloured haphazardly and are animated poorly. The mode 7 bonus levels actually look quite nice.


I think someone got a brand new MIDI keyboard and fell in love with the pre-programmed drumbeats. Oh, and that record scratching too. Annoying sound effects abound as well.


I haven’t seen a more unintuitive control scheme since Resident Evil, and trust me, Chris Redfield in all of his PSX glory handles like a Porsche compared to Zapper.


Marry a Frogger clone with horrible controls, boring objectives, cheap tactics to increase difficulty and you’ll have Zapper. You won’t want to bother.


There are a few multiplayer modes, but with that horrific control scheme, I don’t see how you could possibly convince friends to play with you.


A horribly mediocre game design coupled with frustrating controls makes for anything other than a good time. Leave this one on the shelves, people. You’ll be glad you did.


  • Mode 7 hacks make for a few pretty areas.
  • Sound quality is relatively high.
  • Control system could be compared to walking through the fiery pits of Hell.
  • Difficulty through cheap tricks and bad hit detection.
  • “Enemies” are nothing more than glorified obstacles.
  • Gameplay objectives are boring.
  • Games shouldn’t freeze when you are trying to save data.
  • Sprites are ugly and poorly animated.
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Genre Action
Developer Blitz Games

Worldwide Releases

na: Zapper
Release Nov 05, 2002
eu: Zapper
Release Mar 14, 2003
aus: Zapper
Release Year 2003

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