Section-Z (NES)

Section-Z Box Art


System: NES

Release Date: July 1987

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Genre: Shoot ‘em Up

Capcom released their 5th NES game with Section-Z and I would call it their 5th distinct style of game. Section-Z is a side scrolling Shoot ‘em Up. You are Captain Commando and you’re on a mission to defeat the evil Space Soldiers of Balangool and save Earth by driving them out of the space station they’ve infested.

One of the first enemies that take a lot of hits to kill.

Stages move to the right at varying speeds. Captain Commando can shoot to the left with the B button and to the right with the A button. This is a title that I recommend a turbo controller for. I tried playing it straight and got frustrated after dying in the first couple sections for the umpteenth time. I wouldn’t have persevered if not for the turbo button. There are 60 sections for Captain Commando to navigate through. At the end of almost every section you can choose to go up or down, each path will take you to a different section. You have to navigate to boss battles before moving on to the next set of sections.

One of the generators that must be destroyed to move along the station.

You can find power-ups as you defeat enemies in the different sections. Energy Tubes and Speed Tubes will appear as you kill enemies. Energy is needed to take shots from enemies, as well as use missiles (which I didn’t really do). Speed Tubes speed you up, which allows for easier maneuvering through bullets and enemies. You need to stay away from enemies, as they kill you with one touch. You can also find weapon power-ups when killing the Metal Eater enemies. You can be rewarded with a Megasmasher, which is stronger than the initial laser and penetrates through enemies. The Flash Buster, which allows your shot to move forward, as well as in both diagonal. And the Barrier Shield, which allows you to take 32 shots from enemy bullets without taking damage. When you have all three of these, you’re a near unstoppable killing machine.

I hit a shot on Zamuza, now only 87,000 more to go.

Section-Z is very unforgiving. You’ll die, a lot, and if you go down to zero energy when dying, will be sent all the way back to space outside of the station. If you’re not using a walkthrough, you’ll have to make a map of all the sections to get to the end. There are four different bosses you’ll fight along the way. Throughout the sections, you’ll face off against generators which will shoot normal bullets and homing bullets. If you have a lot of energy, or a barrier, you can take the damage and just shoot away. Once you destroy the generator, you’ll be able to take the red warp you’ll find at the end of a section to move toward the big boss of the area.

Galga is an annoying boss to fight.

You’ll run into Zamuza, which is a drone ship, which shoots multiple bullets at Captain Commando. To defeat it, you must wait until the ship opens and shoot inside. Next up is Balaba, which looks like another robotic enemy. It shoots bouncing bullets from its four corners. I’m not precisely sure what the weak spot was, but shooting it a lot finally worked. The last of the bosses was Galga. This guy shoots 16 bullets in a circle around him. I think he is only vulnerable when shooting, but again am not completely sure. After shooting him enough times, he turns into eight rotating drones. You need to destroy them all as they rotate and shoot at you.

Fighting L-Brain and its many guardians.

The final boss is L-Brain, Balangool’s Master Control. It looks like a lobster alien with a big eyeball in the center. It’s guarded by four turrets that constantly respawn and a shield that is generated by two respawning balls. Captain Commando has to navigate the nonstop bullets and destroy the shields to get some shots on L-Brain. It takes quite a long time to finish the final boss and you may have to spend a lot of time killing turrets to replenish your energy.

Graphics: 2.5

The graphics are pretty good. Enemies and backgrounds are fairly detailed.

Sound: 2.0

I like half the songs. The sound effects for the Megasmasher/Flash Buster combo was annoying.

Gameplay: 1.5

Fight through a level and then choose a path. One will move you forward the other might move you back to do it again.

Difficulty: 1.0

Difficulty comes from one hit deaths, looping sectors, and getting thrown back out of the space station. Not a very well designed console game.

Fun Factor: 1.0

It wasn’t fun. I only stuck with it thanks to the rewind function.

Overall Grade: 1.6

Section-Z gets a C-. I can’t recommend this one. Capcom is really hit or miss at this point in their game development. Their next release is Mega Man at the end of 1987. Unfortunately, that’s about 50 games away.

Section-Z Video Review on YouTube