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Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom

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Released: 1982

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Arcade

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Sega

Submitted by: Ian Marks

Buck Rogers is a legend. He lives in the 25th Century, where everyone wears skin tight lycra suits. They don’t really suit Buck… he’s a little bit portly, but they do suit his friend Wilma Deering, she looked good in them…. sorry I digress.

When Buck isn’t squeezing himself into his trousers, he’s flying a spacecraft and shooting people. It’s probably his tight leggings making him angry and frustrated.

Planet of Zoom was a good arcade game. It wasn’t great, but neither was it rubbish either. If you had a spare 10p coin in an 80’s arcade then you could do worse than feed it to this machine.

It had a great controller. A big joystick/aeroplane type stick, with light up buttons. Controlling Buck’s ship was a dream. It looked a bit fragile, but it seemed to hold up to the punishment you dished out to it.

Sega’s game predates After Burner by 3-4 years, but was clearly an influence. You have a back view of your ship, and you hurtle across planet’s surfaces and through trenches (a la Star Wars). The graphics are generally good with big sprites for both you and the enemy. If there was a criticism then it’s that they are a bit gaudy and migraine inducing, but you can’t have anything.

It was a popular game in my local arcade, and there was one kid who could finish it, to awe struck wonder from the rest of us. It did disappear from the arcades very quickly though, only having a brief moment to shine in the sun. I’ve tried and tried to get MAME roms for it but with no luck, so it’s now 25 years since I’ve pulled on that Lycra suit.

Most disappointingly there was no Tweeky to say ‘Biddi biddi biddi’ when you were in danger. But there was certainly a lot of danger. A multitude of different enemy ships awaited you, as you tried to reach the Mother Ship and destroy it. I personally never did this, as it was too difficult… maybe my trousers weren’t tight enough.