Zap Zap: Vintage Shmup XIIZeal On PC

Right, and the bullets come out of which end?

How do you like your shoot ’em ups: vertically scrolling and difficult to get hold of? If so, you might dig XIIZeal [official site], which has come to PC years after various versions bounced around arcades and consoles in Japan. Please pardon my ignorance of shmup history, but I believe it’s an updated version of 2002’s XIIStag by Triangle Service. As I understand it, your best chance to play Zeal was to import an Xbox 360 shmup compilation for £30. Well, now it’s on Steam for £8.99.

Zeal looks more towards the arcadey side of shmups than bullet hell. It has lots of ships and tanks and multi-part bosses you can shoot. And shooting them gives you points. And those points? Get this: they’re registered on scoreboards.

I feel like one of those awkward E3 presenters who’s clearly a washing machine salesman but impressed a company VP while flogging them an Hotpoint Ultima S-Line in eggshell blue, and anxiety over their ignorance is grinding away their initial excitement at being on stage. Quick, get a famous sportsperson on stage. Is Ian Botham still alive? Get Beefy in here to smile and nod and tell everyone how fun it is to hit things with bats. Bring on the musical guests! Get me Miley Cyrus and Joan Jett. Release the balloons. Send in the clowns. Summon the warlocks. Unleash the cyberbees. Fire up the holographic Derek Acorah. Do anything just get me out of here ROLL VT


  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    I used to love verty shmups back in the 8/16-bit era.

    I don’t understand why this is so pixellated, though. Seems like an odd design choice when we have oodles of power to make a game like this super-shiny.

    • edwardh says:

      Budget? For pixelated graphics, you need less detail and can get away an engine that isn’t well optimized…

      • FurryLippedSquid says:

        An increase in resolution is down to budget?

        I’m not contesting the point, I simply wouldn’t know…

        • edwardh says:

          Yes. Like I just explained – higher resolution means you have to paint/render more detail. Why else do you think so many indie games have pixelated graphics?

        • edwardh says:

          Of course… it CAN also be an aesthetic choice. I suppose in many cases, it may even be both.
          Which may be the case here, since most shmups are low res after all.

    • vorador says:

      It is a design choice, Taito loves some 2D. Besides, the original game was made in 2003 and used a board with the specs of a PlayStation, so there was not much room to do shiny stuff.

  2. edwardh says:

    Hm… looks quite Raidenfighters-esque to me.

    Which is not a bad thing. I’m more of a bullet hell kinda guy myself but I have to say… due to the online leader boards, I may just buy it. There are not many shmups with online leaderboards (in fact, I only know of Jamestown) – unfortunately. I don’t get why companies haven’t ported a lot of them and stuck that functionality on top yet.

    I already bet it’s not available DRM-free though. And do I really want to use that Steam-crap just because I want to play this game? Will have to contemplate…

  3. Bundin says:

    Will add to wishlist. Still a big fan of Tyrian, Raptor and Zanac Ex (msx2). This does look interesting to me!

  4. Dukey says:

    I don’t think I could stand playing it in that tiny window.

    Also, Tyrian 2000 (which you can get for free from GOG) is still hands down the best one of these ever.

    • edwardh says:

      You don’t have to.

      Right from the website:
      “Support for picture rotation and vertical aspect displays – play in an authentic arcade format and get a larger picture!”

      • Dukey says:

        Yes that was in the trailer too.

        And would involve awkwardly propping my monitor up vertically and seems bound to end in tears/I don’t want to.

        • edwardh says:

          Well, then shmups just aren’t for you.
          Or… only the maybe 25% that were designed for a horizontal layout.

  5. Uglycat says:

    Where’s my Xenon 2 remake?

  6. Terics says:

    The main selling point of this game is that your little engine thrusters do damage(also ticks up points) and moving left and right quickly lets you shoot side to side. Its fun to do because of how difficult it is. There’s also an auto-wiggle button button but that’s no fun. Feature wise its pretty bare bones but its a pretty neat game. The publisher also said that they’re working on bring some other shmups to Steam which is great!