The Third Mercenary – Shayne

When I popped in Fortified Zone, I didn’t expect that I’d be done thirty minutes later. My first thought was, “Blink, and you’d miss it”, but despite the short length, I had a fun time; it can be refreshing to play a game that doesn’t beat you down with difficulty.

I wasn’t sold on the soundtrack until the caves: a sweet track that has more depth and a longer loop than the other stages. Weapons/ammo and medkits were plentiful, and attacks were pretty easy to dodge. The game did a great job of making me feel like a bad-ass, to be honest.

In the end, as I said, I had fun and the game didn’t overstay its welcome. I will absolutely go back to this from time to time as – for me – a compact adventure and quick win can be a nice palette cleanser from the crushing difficulty that some games have on offer. –Shayne

It’s been nice out lately, so I’ve put on shorts a few times. Then, I’d get cold, so I’d put on a heavy sweater. My wife has asked me why I “don’t just switch the shorts for pants”? Good question. @JazzyJazzerton

Fortified Zone: Hope You Like Backtracking–Pete P.

I admittedly had never heard of Fortified Zone prior to its selection as this month’s game. I was excited at first because I have played very few games from Jaleco, most of those being on Nintendo Switch Online. They were fine. So, I expected another game that was fine. And it was fine.

First, let me talk about some of the game mechanics that I enjoyed. I enjoyed the RPG elements to the game, such as powering up the soldiers and being able to switch between them and that they weren’t just palette swaps but had distinct characteristics. I liked that there was a map system and puzzles, though the puzzles tended to be on the simpler side, especially after you’ve done a few of them. I also like that the game is short. Game Boy was portable and if there isn’t a password or save system then the games need to be short. I also liked the secondary weapons, though I found it hard to find them as the game progressed into the later stages.

What I did not like about the game, sadly, was the gameplay itself. First, and most importantly, there’s so much backtracking. A lot of times you’ll find yourself in a room that can go two different directions. And you can go several more rooms before finding out that you actually had to go the other direction first to get a key before moving in the direction that you had chosen. So you schlep all the way back, go the other way, get the key, and go back to where you originally were, with enemies respawning in every room each time you enter it.

The combat itself, while run and gun, is actually more like gun and run. Too often you’ll find yourself shooting into an open space and then trying to get enemies to move into the path of your shot because you will get hit if you stand in front of them to shoot. It reminded me a lot of fighting the Goriyas in Link To the Past. You know, these guys:

Each time I popped this on (via emulator) I found myself turning it off after a few minutes to play something else. Overall, for the time, it was fine, but it is otherwise not too memorable of a game. I’m glad I played it but I don’t think I’ll ever be revisiting this one. C- –Pete (@dmachetto on Twitter)

May 2022: Fortified Zone (1991)

Hello and howdy from Joshua Tree, California. I’m out here celebrating Walpurgisnacht with the pals in the dry heat. We’ve cooked up food and made a bunch of drinks, but first I need to tell you all about the May game! This month we’re doing Fortified Zone. We picked this one by committee since we haven’t had any new member submissions in a while. If you’re out there, tell a friend!

Anywhooo, This is a real neat little game that combines overhead dungeon exploring in the vein of Zelda with a top down shooter like Commando or the overhead portions of Blaster Master games. You can even swap between two playable characters that have different skills; One has a jump that can be used to avoid things like spikes and pits, the other has all the special weapons, but cannot jump. I liked this game when I first played it, but only played through the first dungeon. I’m personally excited to give it another go! This should be one that isn’t too expensive, so grab the cart, emulate, do what you got to do and join us this month!

PS – It’s May Day. Support some strike funds or buy that Jorts the Cat zine, won’t you?