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Shorts!

Games you probably never played:
"Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel"

by: Dr. Boogie
 

Not long ago, I brought you all the news that there was a sequel to Kung Fu, and that more likely than not, you probably never played it. Well today, I've come bearing yet another overlooked sequel. In some ways, it's quite similar to the Kung Fu series, principally because of the whole martial arts thing, but at the same time, it has a style all its own. I think you'll see what I mean as I present you with Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel.

Motion blur, the marvel of tomorrow!

Even as you make it to the title screen, you can tell that this game is going to kick ass because just as the music starts up, you're hit with a very enthusiastic, Bruce Lee-ish martial arts scream. That's from the titular character, and it's his way of welcoming you to his own personal game. But what the heck is going on here, you ask? What could there be in the way of a story for an action game featuring an anthropomorphic squirrel with heavy Japanese overtones? All I can say is thank god for opening cinematics:

He's no scarier than any normal clown, really.

Zero receives a telegram from his forest homeland stating that a villainous lumberjack named Jacques LeSheets is cutting down all the trees for his paper factory. To make matters worse, he's cutting them down to print counterfeit money at his factory. To make matters even worse, he's also kidnapped Amy (the Girlfriend Squirrel). What's a squirrel to do? Well, for starters, he has to tell his evil circus-themed boss Ektor that he has to abandon his evil schemes for a bit to go save the forest. Ektor isn't big on vacations for his henchmen and tells Zero that he can't leave. Zero's response is simple:

Activate power sneer!
Now that's definitive!

You see, this game is a spin-off of the Aero the Acro-Bat series, in which you control an anthropomorphic bat circus performer in what is an equally bizarre spectacle. Therein, Zero was one of the villains, and now he has his own game, not unlike the Red Devil from the Ghosts and Goblins series, and also not unlike the Red Devil, Zero's game is slightly darker in its execution than the source material. It's not exactly bleak and goth like the Gargoyle's Quest games, but it's slightly more mature, hence the MA-13 rating (Sorry everyone 12 and under).

Enough background. Let's get to the good stuff: A quick trip to the options menu will show you that though the game only uses the old three-button configuration of the older Genesis games, those three buttons are packed with a number of different moves/abilities, and every single one of them relates in some way to you handing out ass-kickings. The A button is the loafer of the bunch, with only one move tied to it: the shuriken toss.

You may feel a slight pinch...

Pretty standard stuff, really. Except that Zero can carry hundreds of the little things and can throw them with such force that they ricochet off of walls, ceilings, floors, any of you garden variety surfaces.

The B button, on the other hand, is positively crammed with features. Jumping is a given for games of this type, and having a double jump is double handy, particularly when it's a flip that bowl over those pesky airborne enemies. More importantly, however, "B" also contains two of Zero's more devastating combat moves. The first is his nunchaku:

Hi-ya!!!

A quick flick of the nunchaku, a hearty karate yell for good measure, and the bad guys will be screaming for mercy. The kind of mercy that squirrels don't have. I know that last part ended with a preposition, but that's just how Zero is: Merciless. Don't try to think about it.

Anyway, the other important move you get from B button is the swoop:

Whoosh!

Here's where we start to see that he is really Zero, the Kamikaze Flying Squirrel. You could use this move for just about anything, whether you're trying to hit an obnoxious (or as some might say, squirrelly) enemy, or just trying to recover from a botched jump. Not that I've ever needed it for the latter, but you could use it for that in theory.

You'll see a continuation of this theme in the case of button number C. In addition to the swoop, Zero can also pull off an even more spectacular parabolic flight with a move called the Super Dive. All you need is a goodly amount of vertical space to build up sufficient speed and you're well on your way to getting your pilot's license. Just be careful about pulling off such fancy maneuvers in tight quarters.

Splat!
That's where the "kamikaze" part of his name comes into play.

And so he's off, hell bent on getting his sweetheart back and saving his beloved forest. Normally, getting there would be no problem at all, but Zero winds up getting his plane wrecked, not by crashing it into a battleship, but by getting it shot down by a mysterious, unseen sniper, who continues to hound him throughout the game.

That sniper has two scopes!

But it's no skin off his nose. Menacing gunmen and bizarre enemies like partially-hatched eggs and grown men in beanie caps are just another part of everyday life when you're a squirrel trained in the art of whoopass.

But wait, there's more! Sure, the enemy may have nixed the Kamikaze Squirrel's Zero, but they forgot all about his jetski and speedboat:

Zero, the seaworthy squirrel!

They make for a fantastic ride, whether you're zipping down a curiously whirlpool-enriched river, or just taking a scenic trip down a stinking cascade of toxic waste (the cartoon-ish, glowing green toxic waste, not the real life, lymphoma-inducing kind).

And of course, all this is saying nothing about his jetpack...

So then, why have you never heard of this game despite it being a fun platform game with some catchy tunes and a vicious flying squirrel? I don't know. Maybe it's just you. Maybe your parents didn't want you, an impressionable young man or woman, to have your mind polluted with this kind of cartoon violence. Then again, maybe it was because Sunsoft didn't do much with the game because they decided to make the previously mentioned Acro-Bat their mascot. Maybe if they had decided to crank out another Zero game back when there was a barrage of remakes for the GBA in the late 90s, early 00s. But no, they wanted to make another Aero the Acro-Bat back then, and it never got off the ground. Come on, Sunsoft, how much clearer can the fans make it: THEY WANT MORE OF THE KAMIKAZE SQUIRREL!!!

Perhaps the third dimension will have some new openings for Zero, or maybe he has a future on the DS. Imagine, flying through the trees, hurling shuriken, and kneecapping lumberjacks with a flick of the stylus. And you could include a special stylus in the shape of a small pair of nunchaku. The marketing practically writes itself.

Hoo-wha!

Questions or Comments about this piece?
email Dr. Boogie


*** You too can play Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel! ***

[CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD ZERO THE KAMIKAZE SQUIRREL!]


Want to see some more video game related content?
Then check out Dr. Boogie's feature on:

SPARTAN X 2! aka: KUNG FU 2!
"Spartan X 2" (aka: "Kung Fu 2")



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