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Released initially in 1982 by Sega, Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom (also known as Zoom 909) is one of the early progenitors of "Into-the-Screen" Shoot 'Em Ups, predating even Sega's later and more well-known titles like Space Harrier and After Burner. The game was first released for the arcades, but received many, many, many, many ports for contemporary gaming systems of the time. As is the case with most video games from this period, each of the ports have somewhat different game mechanics compared to the arcade game, as well from each other.
Although it's based on the venerable eponymous space opera (specifically Buck Rogers in the 25th Century), the game has no plot of its own... at least for people who don't have the arcade manual. Even then, it's rather sparse: you're Buck Rogers, and you're on a mission to stop a wandering "warrior-world" called the Planet of Zoom before it reaches Earth. Like a certain moon-sized space station, the Planet of Zoom devastates everything in its path. The Planet of Zoom is controlled by a source ship. Destroying the ship liberates the Planet of Zoom, saving Earth in the process.
Go get 'em, soldier.
- Airstrike Impossible: A number of sectors in the arcade version involve trench runs (as well as barriers to smash into at high speed). In all versions, planetside sectors are littered with Electron Posts (not always the case in the arcade version). Some versions of the game have them actually fire on you if you don't fly in between them, too.
- All There in the Manual: The original arcade version's plot is found only in the owner's manual of the machine. The various console and computer versions of the game aren't nearly as extensive about the plot, which isn't saying much considering the arcade manual's story is six sentences long.
- Asteroid Thicket: Some sectors in the arcade version have these.
- Cognizant Limbs: In the arcade version, the Mothership's four engine pods will fall off if they are shot at. You can crash into them if you're not careful.
- Endless Game: In the arcade version, the game has only eight stages ("sectors"), with the mothership as the final (and only) boss. Clearing the game puts you on the next loop, with the message "NICE PLAY, GO ON". The arcade actually displays how many loops you've run (labeled as "rounds") as well.
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: In the finest of shmup traditions.
- Timed Mission: You've got a fuel gauge that steadily depletes, causing you to lose a life if you run out. Methods of replenishing the gauge differ somewhat between the various versions of the game.