Outzone - Toaplan - 1990


Toaplan - 1990 - Arcade

Reviewed by Malc

Another Toaplan review from me then, and this one is the sorta-shmup, Outzone. Playing similarly to Commando or Mercs, one or two players can blast up the screen wiping out all sorts of space themed enemies and bosses.

Did I say two players? Yes - Outzone is one of those games which absolutely comes together when played with another player at your side. The co-operative style of play encourages strategic covering play tactics as well as balls out rushes up the screen. A sense of urgency is added by an Energy meter which must be replenished every so often with [E] pickups, so you can't just sit about and take it easy. Two player mode has lots of little tricks and nice bits - including the explosion when a player dies taking out the enemies in the vicinity too. Brilliant fun, and the game is built for two players I reckon.

One player mode is slightly less fun when put beside it though. Although this mode is great, with a lot of the strategic play intact, the feeling of side by side attacking and defending is totally lost. This is a game to bring out when friends are round, but not one to play too long on your own, I've found.

For a 1990 game, the graphic and sound are extremely accomplished - and one to play with the audio turned up to the max. At the moment, I'm playing the pcb with the sound almost at full volume, and it sounds like vietnam in here, with chip tunes that is. Tons of massive bombing and explosion noises over the top of some really fab tunes make this a game to be heard as well as seen.

Before I show you a few pics, here's the weapons system!

     Shoot the C boxes to pick up this CHANGE WEAPON icon which will change your weapon type between fixed and free fire types, depending on the situation you are in! The free type weapon is autofiring, whilst the fixed one isn't.
     Blast these boxes to receive an energy boost, you need to keep getting these as when it runs out you lose one of your precious lives. And as it is almost running out your character gets... slower... must... try... to... reach... box.....aaaaghdied//
  Some baddies drop extra types of pickups. This is a bomb type, which gets added to your bomb stock. Press the second button to launch a screenclearing bomb.
  And this is a powerup, which increases the power of the type of weapon you have at the time.
  SPECIALS - I love these icons! You never know what you are going to get, sometimes it will be a flamey blaster, a swirly mace, a shield, an energy bar extender... plus more that I probably don't know about yet! Plus there's a one up and speed up icon, but they're not very frequent.

And that's the weapons then. A really really brilliant game in 2 player, but not quite so inspiring in one player mode. I need more friends!!!

Score: 8/10

Knobbly Bit >>

Sorry did I say platoons? I meant just you and a second player, if you are lucky. Let's hope we destroy them all!


<< Hercules Returns

Here comes the large carrier ship with platoons of good guys jumping out and Out-Zoning their way to beat the evil Boss.

Level 1 mini bosses>>

Best with the fixed weapon, these little guys are actually the first level's end bosses. Although you can wipe them out with two bombs, you get a decent bonus for bombs left in stock so at least try and kill them normally! Oh, and the green one is green because I've been shooting at it.


<< Bill and Ted are Dead

You'll notice that this is a sorta-shmup: depending on which weapon you are using. Although the game tries to make you choose the best kind of main weapon depending on the situation, I tend to stick with the fixed one as I like it better.

Flambee Weapon >>

Now, this firey attack is one of the special weapons, which you need to get by picking up an [SP] icon. I have noticed that if you get the change weapon icon after picking up this firey attack, sometimes six little Flying Shark planes come along and help you!


<< I can't reach 'em!

Annoyingly, you can't pick up ALL the goodies on the right as the game scrolls too far up for you to backtrack. Or can you get them by another method? Hmmm?? Or do you really need them all anyway?

Super Ball!!! >>

Probably not the best super weapon, but its fun to use, as the spaceship in a ball twists madly round your char. Anybody know if this is a spaceship from another Toaplan game I wonder?


<< Don't look down!

Probably the best weapon to use here is the free ranging one, as you'll need to backtrack a lot and need the covering fire as more enemies pop out from behind.

Cross fire!! >>

Take your time going through here as the angled lasers are timed to splat you. But don't take too long as that energy bar is always depleting!!


<< Big Tank

Second Level's boss is quite easy too - simply avoid all his ball shots - which come in little patterns and are easy to avoid. Later bosses up the ingenuity ratio a lot. A nice touch here is when you kill him, you run right through the destroyed hole in the middle.

Don't Fall Part Two >>

Take your time here too. The green snakey things throw sprays of enemies at you, so advance carefully here as well. The boss is coming up too, so save your bombs!!


<< Stealth in a shmup?

Reminding me a lot of the original Metal Gear games, you need to choose your weapons carefully and advance with care as when you are spotted, these enemies suddenly burst into action!

Player Two joins the game >>

I had to enlist the help of a second player here to try and get some more screengrabs, but I realised since it is a push scroll game, it was going to be useless in practice. Anyway, I don't want to spoil the brilliant boss battles that are coming ahead, so go and play for yourself!


<< Slice of cake

Actually the looks are deceiving, he's not as easy as pie after all.

Chopping off the area you run about on with his laser, things start to get cramped and claustrophobic. And this is as far as I got.

Outzone is an arcade only title, and surprisingly was never converted to any home machines at all. A real shame as I think it would have done very well. So either MAME it or PCB it or don't play it at all. And the sound is intact in MAME for once.

Fixeight is the followup to Outzone, and is one of the few Toaplan pcbs that I intentionally pass by when I see it. Because it's nowhere near as good, that's why. Mikeb got it once and brought it up for us to play at a meet, and as we played a sort of depressed gloom came over us as we all realised it was a bit average. And pastelly. At least the falling off the edge animations were funny.


shmups!   © 1997 - 2007  Malcolm Laurie