Reviewed: May 16, 2005
Released: April 1, 2005
Seeing that there haven’t been many top down shooters available for free over the Internet, Zango games decided that they would give you one, all you have to do is give them the keys to your Internet browser.
Jade Shadow, is actually a pretty cool game for "free ware". You control Kimiko, a.k.a. Jade Shadow as she storms the island fortress of Dr. Mifune, an evil genius bent on… blah, blah, blah. You aren’t here for the story, which is good, because it’s a bad conglomeration of that which is Japanese enough for a marketing executive to think the game will sell. “Cuz, yeah, the kids like that anime and stuff.”
Yes, I did say the game was free up there, but like all economists say: “there’s no such thing as a free video game”.
You have fairly basic controls: shoot, move, repeat. However, there are a whole host of special powers available to you so long as you find them as you wander through the levels. Not only do you get weapon upgrades like rocket launchers, but you also get ‘slow time’ which will let you deflect enemy fire back at the bad guys, or ‘telekinisis’ which lets you pick up only magnetic blocks (don’t ask me).
The only really bad thing I have to say about the controls is that you are in control of forward movement, kind of. You start walking and trigger an auto scroll which keeps moving until about 2 seconds after you stop so while you actually are in control of what’s going on, it doesn’t really feel like it.
This isn’t a very in depth game, if you’ve played any other shooters like this (from 1942 until Silpheed or Ikaruga) you basically know what’s going on. The special abilities and weapons add a nice robustness to the interface, so this is a fairly deep game for something you can pick up for “free”.
Graphics are pretty good for free ware. Basically you’re sitting on circa 2000 graphics with more power. You have some 3D objects (think Donkey Kong Country 3D) at a very foreshortened view.
The character designs are all right too, with pretty interesting mecha designs that you have to fight. The problem with it all is that it all seems like a cheap marketing ploy, especially when you learn about the nice little catch to the game that Zango has cooked up.
Effects are pretty minimal, though the slow time is cool. I would mention the cut scenes, but there aren’t really any, and the little ‘story’ still frames are, well, lets call them uninteresting, that’s polite enough, right?
The sound is standard techno/electronic fare, but despite that it is kind of catchy. You find yourself toe-tapping to the tune of mechanical destruction. There aren’t any voices worth mentioning and the effects are good.
Ok, now to the reason why everything else has gotten a little short shifted. The reason this game is free is because all you have to do is have Zango’s proprietary software installed and then download it. This software must be installed in order to play the game, even after you download the game if this isn’t on your computer it will not run. Think of this like Half Life 2 and Steam, the only difference is that the game here is nowhere near the production value of Half Life, and Zango cannot be shut off whereas Steam can.
So that’s no big deal, right? You get this neat little shooter for free, and access to all of the other games Zango has to offer for free. All I have to do is have their software on my system. Ah, but you forgot about the catch. The Zango software is not simply your pass card to play their games. What Zango does is offer companies a way around your pop-up blocker. That’s right, as long as you have Zango installed you will get pop-up ads from Zango whenever you open your web browser, and actually it’s more like about every third page you visit another ad pops up.
So, essentially I get “free” games so long as I let Zango bombard me with ads. No thank you. Internet service providers went to great lengths to offer blocking services because people don’t like pop-ups. Go figure.
If invasive advertising isn’t the sort of thing that bothers you, or you’re good enough with computers to get around their software, then by all means pick up this game. It isn’t the hottest thing ever, but it is a fun little shooter. As it stands though, I like my Internet access as it is, thank you very much.