Game Info:

Zero Zero Zero Zero
Developed By: Alvarop Games
Published By: Ratalaika Games
Released: February 7, 2020
Available On: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One
Genre: Platformer, Action
ESRB Rating: Rated E10 for Fantasy Violence
Number of Players: 1 offline
Price: $4.99 Digital

Thanks to Ratalaika Games for providing us with a review code!

There is no shortage of 2D platformers with an emphasis on pixel-perfect jumps these days. What began with I Wanna Be the Guy and Super Meat Boy continues with games like Celeste and Slime-San. Zero Zero Zero Zero is a Ratalaika Games published platformer that has a unique gimmick up its sleeve: Each of its 100 levels are randomized, which means you won’t know what to expect next.

Zero Zero Zero Zero doesn’t have much in regard to its plot or story (the only given elements are that you’re a western gunman looking for coins and an exit). Its simplicity is highlighted by the fact that its visual style uses 1-bit graphics exclusively. It’s a minimalistic style that works well for this game, though it becomes unremarkable by the time you start nearing the end.

Zero Zero Zero Zero

Strong Points: Some fun level design; nice chiptune soundtrack
Weak Points: Random level gimmick with no chance to practice; jumps and controls feel inaccurate
Moral Warnings: You can shoot robotic creatures with a pixelated peashooter

Here, your character only utilizes two moves: A double jump and a peashooter gun that can destroy blocks or robots. Like most games in its subgenre, these mechanics are all that’s needed to traverse the game’s 100 levels. Each level has a coin which you must retrieve, after which a door opens. You must head to the door without getting hit once to pass the level. The biggest thing that separates Zero Zero Zero Zero from other 2D platformers is that every time you beat or fail a level, the next one is entirely random; not procedurally generated but handpicked from a batch of pre-made levels.

This is, in theory, innovative since you don’t know how to prepare for the next fast-paced level. Unfortunately, it’s a double-edged sword since it lacks the fundamental mechanic that makes infuriatingly hard platformers tolerable: The ability to retry instantly. While other games will allow you to keep going until you conquer an obstacle, Zero Zero Zero Zero won’t give you that option. My early playthrough had my character running into obstacles that I had no indication to dodge in less than a second in some cases. You’ll eventually come back to levels, but unfortunately the inability to practice a given level makes this a frustrating slog.

It doesn’t help that the game feels floaty and inaccurate. Your character has a weirdly light jump that does more harm than good and doesn’t feel tight enough to get past the surprisingly difficult platforms and obstacles. There were times when I tried to use my double jump but was instantly booted out of a level because I barely touched a spike or enemy. The controls work, but I was fighting with them the whole time.

Zero Zero Zero Zero
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 58%
Gameplay – 10/20
Graphics – 5/10
Sound – 8/10
Stability – 4/5
Controls – 2/5

Morality Score - 98%
Violence – 9/10
Language – 10/10
Sexual Content – 10/10
Occult/Supernatural – 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical – 10/10

It also doesn’t help that the game sometimes slows down when there’s a lot going on during gameplay. This is egregious since the game uses a minimalist pixel art style; it’s unacceptable that slowdown would occur. It’s a shame too, since a few levels had some charming design; it’s unfortunate that they’re buried underneath dozens of levels with cheap traps. The soundtrack isn’t too bad either; while there are only a handful of chiptune tracks, they’re used quite well and highlight the frantic nature of the game.

If you’re looking for a morally sound game, however, Zero Zero Zero Zero is a pretty good choice. The only objectionable mechanic is the fact that you’re shooting robots (and your pixelated gun can only shoot some of them). If you do end up getting hit, your “death” is depicted as a flash of light as you move to the next random level. Other than that, there’s nothing else that would be of concern in terms of violence.

Overall, if you’re looking for a cheap platformer with brutal difficulty, Zero Zero Zero Zero is up your alley; otherwise, you might have fun somewhere else.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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