There is something that I feel the need to disclose before I start this review; I have not beaten Attacking Zegeta. I normally prefer to have finished games that I review, but beating this game is simply beyond my abilities, and I imagine it is beyond the abilities of most others as well. I like to think that I am fairly competent at beating difficult games. I may not be a pro gamer by any means, but I have beaten Demon’s Souls, Contra 3, Gradius 3, Ghosts N Goblins, Eryi’s Action, Fenix Rage, and every classic Mega Man game, so I can generally hold my own.
Attacking Zegeta is on a completely different level though. It is, without a doubt, the hardest game I have ever played, and to be honest, I don’t see how anyone could find this game fun. There is a reason that games like I Wanna Be the Guy are usually free to play; that reason being that games based entirely around insane difficulty usually do not have much to offer other than that. Games like Demon’s Souls have not caught on solely from being hard. As much as their developers publicize the difficulty, there is a lot more to creating a good game than just stacking everything against the player.
There is a huge distinction between being “challenging” and being “difficult.” A game that is challenging is a game that is not easy, but is designed in a way that brings that allows the player to adapt and improve their own skills at the game as they advance. A game that is “difficult” is just a game that requires a ton of patience and retry after retry until the player gets luck and beats it. Attacking Zegeta is a game that is far more in line with the latter than the former, and a lot of its difficulty just comes from some very poor design decisions.
Before I explain precisely what is wrong with Attacking Zegeta’s Design, I will go over the game’s presentation and aesthetics. The game does have a story, but it has no prevalence and is just an excuse plot. Graphics wise, it is very low-budget and looks like it could have been a Newgrounds flash game. The sound effects are pretty appropriate, but the music is very bland and sounds like generic elevator music.
Now that we have that stuff out-of-the-way; it is time to talk about the gameplay. Attacking Zegeta appears to be a puzzle platformer hybrid that requires both methodical thinking and quick reflexes. This already creates a problem in that puzzles are supposed to be slow, methodical, and solved through thought while platformers are fast paced and require quick reflexes. These two elements contradict each other, and will create a very frustrating game.
The specific example that comes to mind is the second level where you need to use grenades to destroy a wall of blocks that are blocking your path. That would be fine if it were not for the fact that enemy drones are always chasing you, which means you need to react quickly. The problem is that you also need to continuously wait for the grenades to explode, meaning you are cornered and have no room to evade the drones that will kill you instantly. Jumping over the drones is not an option because you are not given enough room to do so, and you will also be killed if you are too close to your grenade when it explodes.
Attacking Zegeta is a game that combines two game genres in ways where they clash rather than complement each other. However, what really makes this game so frustrating is that it is nothing but a never ending series of cheap kills that the player will never see coming, and are nigh impossible to traverse without prior knowledge. For instance, enemy spawn points are invisible and will only spawn drones when you are close to them. This means that drones will appear out of nowhere and that there is no way to observe where enemy spawn points may be. As previously stated, you can’t simply jump over them since the game has so corridors with short ceilings, and touching them results in an instant kill.
You are given two methods of attack in Attacking Zegeta. The first of which is your gun, but it’s pretty much useless. The reason for this is because its effectiveness on drones is completely unpredictable. Sometimes they will be destroyed in one shot, but other times they will take up to seven and still not die. Even worse is that drones explode when you kill them, and if they are too close to you when you die they kill you as well. This means that the gun weapon is completely unreliable and you will be sticking with the second weapon.
The second weapon is the previously mention grenades, which will always destroy a drone on contact or if they are in its range, and they also destroy blocks and spikes. Unfortunately, grenades come in much lower number than gun ammo so it is far easier to run out of them and be left defenseless. When you consider the fact that a lot of levels require a massive supply of grenades to even let the player advance, this means that if you run out of grenades then you have to start over from the beginning of the game.
The reason that you will need to start over is because it is not possible to effectively farm for gun ammo or grenades. The reason for this is because you can only obtain more ammo by destroying blocks or enemy drones, which require you to use up your ammo and grenades. Unless the random number gods are feeling particularly generous and will spawn an unnatural amount of grenades, you will use up all your grenades and ammo faster than you can gain any.
There is one way to effectively build up a decent stock of ammo though, but it is not fun. You start out with no ammo or no grenades, so the only way to get more is to manually farm them, but you can’t do that the normal way. However, the player has the ability to reset the stage by pressing the R1 and L1 buttons at the same time. Using this reset ability will start them back at the beginning of the stage regardless of if the player hit a checkpoint or not. In return, however, the player keeps all of their lives, ammo, and grenades from the last attempt. This means that the only way to efficiently farm attack items is to repeatedly destroy the same few yellow boxes and collect the same items at the start of the first level over and over again until they have enough.
If that was not enough, however, the player also needs to farm extra lives because they are only given seven at the start, and there are no continues. In order to farm 1Ups, the player needs to get to the halfway point in the first level where they obtain the key card that opens up various gates in the level. Of course, this isn’t easy to begin with since there is a hallway at the start that is filled with infinitely respawning enemy drones that will continuously obstruct your path in a very similar manner to that one room in level 6 of Castlevania 1 with the medusa heads.
The only thing preventing you from repeated game overs is the fact that using the R1 L1 trick before your death animation ends will reset the level before you lose a life. Unfortunately, the game will not always register the double button press, which will result it you still losing a life anyway, or even having it restart after you lose the life meaning that you don’t even get to restart from the checkpoint.
Thankfully, if you do get past that obnoxious corridor and open up the gates, they will still be open when you use R1 L1, so you can repeatedly collect a 1UP that becomes available after the gates are open. Unfortunately, it still isn’t that simple because there is a drone spawning point right next to it so you need to quickly use R1 L1 to reset and hope it registers in time. You then simply repeat this until you have enough lives to get through the game. Unfortunately, considering how cheap this game is in difficult, one will likely need to farm for multiple hours if they plan to have enough lives to get them through the entire game on their first try.
On my first attempt at level two, I went in with about forty lives. Unfortunately it was not much of an attempt because I instinctively pressed R1 L1 before I got killed by a drone, which sent me back to the beginning of the first level with the gates back up. It then took me about another hour or two to beat the first level again, in addition to farming up to 50 this time for good measure and I went into the second level thinking that 50 lives should be enough to let me get through the game.
By the time I completed level two, I had 5 remaining lives. The reason for this is that, unlike the first level which was just painstakingly difficult, level was just designed to burn up lives as if this was an Arcade title that required you to put in a quarter every time you wanted to continue. Not only were there the previous mentioned cheap deaths that resulted from waiting for your grenades to destroy the walls, but there were also multiple segments where you just needed to take a hit from a grenade to get through the blocks. The best strategy for the boss of the level was toss grenades as quick so you minimize the amount of lives lost since its pattern is so erratic that it’s nigh impossible to beat without lose a life.
My play through of this game ended on level three, which was another level designed to drain lives and was almost entirely trial and error based. I then got a game over, which meant I needed to start from the beginning of the first level without any of the ammo or grenades I lost before. If I wanted to get through this game, not only would I need to farm all of this stuff again, I would need to do infinitely more farming than I did the first times. Naturally, I just gave up at this point as I highly doubt that there is anything else this game could do that would change my opinion. Oh, also there is a Flappy Bird clone that is also playable, but I stopped playing that after about five minutes since I’m not really into those types of games.
I do not know how many levels there are in this game given that I couldn’t beat it myself, and Google didn’t give me any results. I did learn about the ammo and lives tricks from a few Youtube videos, which probably helped me access more of the game than I would have been able to otherwise. Without farming for ammo or lives or using the R1 L1 rest on the first level, this game is unplayable. I would not even be able to get path the first half of the first level without them, and I know this because I tried to for two hours straight on my first play session.
I don’t get how Denysoft expected the general gaming population to perceive their game. Attacking Zegeta is simply way too frustrating and difficult for it to be any fun to most gamers, and that is clearly the type of game they were trying to create. It is one of those games in the vein of I Wanna Be the Guy that people play more for bragging rights rather than to actually have fun, although thinking about it, I Wanna Be the Guy might be preferable.
Of course, there will always be exceptions to that rule, and there will be people who are actively trying to find games with this insane level of difficulty because normal games just don’t do it for them anymore, and to be fair, Attacking Zegeta is likely just what they are looking for. When most of us played any 8 or 16 bits games as kids, they likely seemed a lot harder to us than they do now, and the main reason that they stuck with us was because it was so hard to beat them, and thus much more rewarding as we discovered more tricks to help us improve.
Attacking Zegeta is a game trying to capture that same feeling we had with very challenging games that we had as kids, but it tries to compensate for the fact that we are now adults with much greater skills by ramping up the difficulty to absurd levels. Attacking Zegeta is not trying to capture the same level of challenge as older games; it is trying to be what we thought those games were as kids when we weren’t good at them. The problem with this approach is that there is a reason we still enjoyed those older retro titles despite the fact that we couldn’t beat them.
Of course such a thing is a matter of circumstance depending on the individual games in question, but even games that were legitimately unfair in design such as Battletoads at least made the first few levels fun. Attacking Zegeta, however, never really feels fun, and it will just be a test of patience for most. Of course, if this is the type of challenge that you are looking for, then by all means check this game out. The rest of us, however, have better things to do with our lives… like playing video games.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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