Section-Z (NES)

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North American box.

Section-Z is a scrolling shooter video game developed and published by Capcom for on the Famicom Disk System on 1987-05-25, then for the NES two months later. It is based on the arcade game of the same title, but Capcom drastically altered the game for home consoles. In the game, you play a space hero who is trying to stop an invasion of his home planet by infiltrating the incoming space station of Balangool and defeat L-Brain, the master controller of the invasion force. The North American release ret-cons the hero to Captain Commando, no doubt in an attempt to create a Capcom mascot.

I got this game at a garage sale in the early 1990s. I remember being a little confused by the game at first until I figured out that you need to map out the ends of each section in order to not get lost. After that, I beat the first couple barriers and boss, but found the second area to be too difficult and gave up on the game. Years later, in 2004 or so, I knuckled down and mapped out most of the game before finally beating it.

I've noticed from online commentary that this game is pretty divisive. I think the hybrid genre of mixing a scrolling shooter with adventure elements is a great idea, but I can see why people who are expecting a simple scrolling shooter can be put off by that.

Status

I own this game for the NES, and have beaten it.

Review

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6 5 5 4 5 50%

Best Version: FDS

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • Changing from the linear layout of the arcade game to a more labyrinthine level layout was a great idea. Although confusing at first, once you start mapping out the game, it adds a lot of spice to what would have been an otherwise forgettable scrolling shooter.
  • The game has fantastic title music and some of the stage music is pretty nice too. Tamayo Kawamoto composed the original arcade music which was arranged for the NES by Kumi Yamaga. Yamaga didn't use all of the arcade music, and composed some of her own songs as well, including the wonderful ending tune.
  • I like that the game differentiates between getting hit by a bullet and getting hit by an enemy. However, with the amount of enemies flying around, I would rather a collision with an enemy just do extra damage rather than kill the player outright.
  • I enjoy how the power-ups (megasmasher, flash buster, barrier shield) are handled. You don't have to equip them right away, which works in your favor because you lose them if they're equipped when you die. So, you can hold off on using them until you really need them. I also like how the megasmasher becomes more powerful when you get a second in reserve (I only wish they did this for the other power-ups).

Bad

  • The original FDS release has a proper save feature, but the NES port does not. For as long as the game is, Capcom should have at least added a password feature.
  • The energy/lives combination is a bit confusing, especially when enemies kill the player and also do 5 energy damage.
  • The three capsule weapons (missile, flash bomb, crush ball) are hard to use and not worth the 5 energy cost. They should either be cheaper or more effective.
  • The graphics, while on-par for a 1987 game, aren't that great. And why is Captain Commando pink?
  • The manual is poorly translated with lots of typos, is missing some enemy artwork, and the story is ridiculous even for a video game plot.
  • It would be nice if your maximum speed was slightly slower. If you collect the maximum of speed ups, you move so fast it's hard to control your character.

Ugly

  • Like most games of this era, the game is so hard it hurts the gaming experience a lot. I cut my teeth on the game until I memorized most of the sections. And, even then, I still had a hard time finishing it.

Media

Box Art

Documentation

Fan Art

Videos

Credits

Role Staff
Programmer Ichi
Game Design Tomoshi Sadamoto (Tomo), Akira Kitamura (Akirachan)
Character Design Yasuaki Kishimoto (Yasukichi), Oran
Music and Sound Effects Kumi Yamaga (Yamachan), Tamayo Kawamoto (Kuwachan)
Sound Programmer Yoshihiro Sakaguchi (not credited)
Technical Services Paul Biederman

Titles

Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Section-Z
Japanese セクションZ Sekushon Z Section Z

Links

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