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Released: 1988

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Atari 8-bit

Publisher: Zeppelin Games

Developer: Brian Jobling

Submitted by: Shaun Scott

You play a convict aiming to escape a prison and must complete 16 alien infested levels to achieve your goal. 

Zybex is a side scrolling shoot-em-up with a fairly original power-up system.  Your 'spaceman' is constantly shooting and the fire button on the joystick simply changed the weapon type.  Each weapon has four increasingly powerful settings which are essential for the end of level bosses.  Best of all, you don't lose all your weapons when you die but simply step down a level of the weapon you were using. As in most SHMUPS memorizing attack patterns is essential as well as locating power-ups and extra lives.  The first 12 levels are open to you immediately and you can choose which level to attempt next, strategy is needed in choosing easier levels first allowing you to build up lives and power-ups for the more challenging levels later.  Once you have gained enough credits you can attempt the last levels in the game.

Boss battles normally involve dodging terrain and also a flurry of bullets from the enemy, these require your full concentration as the battles can take several minutes.  Without power-ups you can really struggle.

Controls are responsive and scrolling is smooth (even with many enemies on the screen at once). Collision detection is also spot on – if you die it's your fault! 

The difficulty level (while hard) is never unfair and with a two player co-op mode you can make good progress after a few goes. For an Atari 8-bit game the graphics are well defined, colourful and varied and showed what the machine was capable of.

One of the first games published by Zeppelin. This game originally came out for the bargain price of £2.99 and proved excellent value for money.

Zeppelin went on to publish the graphically similar (but full price) Draconus later that year.