Dark Void Zero Review

The child in me squealed when we got a look at Dark Void Zero on the DS last month. This was a game that I knew I must play. Like Mega Man 9 before it, Capcom has found a way to make me purchase another impossibly hard arcade game for my Nintendo system.

Dark Void Zero plays the way a Bionic Commando or Mega Man game would play on an NES. It’s a little slow, you’re not entirely confident in how far your character can jump, and it’s really, really difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s also perfect. Did I mention that?

To get the complete experience of Dark Void Zero you have to be aware of the faux history surrounding the game. Developed in 198X, Dark Void was a game that was supposed to come to the NES with an additional chip inside the game to avoid slowdown (think the FX chip in Star Fox), and to the rare dual-screened arcade cabinet. Unfortunately, Capcom shifted its focus to the SNES, the dual-screened arcade cabinet was discontinued, and Dark Void was forgotten. Twenty years later the game has resurfaced. A man named Jimmy Fallon, a contest winner, had the only remaining NES cartridge, which Capcom has decided to release on the DSi. Fake history lesson over.

Your character, Cliff Secord Rusty, has to shoot, jump, shoot, and use a jet pack to hover around and shoot at a bunch of weird alien/robots through three different hub-world levels. Cliff will be running around the level and getting key cards to open up more areas, with the eventual goal of fighting a boss and (probably) saving the world. But don’t play this game for the story… it has about as much substance as Super Maio Bros.

Sure, there are only 3 different weapons in the game and you can only carry one at a time. Sure, you might not be able to play on Normal or Hard difficulty because you keep dying. But that doesn’t mean Capcom hasn’t crafted an amazing experience here.

Play this game because the controls are tight. Play this game because the art is pretty, in a retro arcade sort of way. Play this game because having a jet pack is awesome, even in two dimensions. Play this game because the kid in you remembers how awesome simple games with good controls are. And if you’re too young to remember those times, play this game so you can better understand how far games have come.

I played through on Easy difficulty and it took me a while before getting the hang of the first map and learning where everything was. I finished the game and immediately restarted on Medium. I am truly addicted. This is one of the best handheld games I have ever played. I am really glad that it gets to come with me everywhere my DS goes, and I hope Capcom stays committed to the retro arcade genre they have pretty much created during the modern gaming era. I’d love to see Dark Void Zero Two or another IP that plays as well as this one does. This is a front-runner for my GOTY ’10, and I say that with absolute confidence, knowing that there is a God of War, a Halo and possibly a new Zelda title on the way this year.


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Author: Creighton DeSimone View all posts by

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