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 not only Sega's later and more well-known titles like Space Harrier and After Burner, but also a number of other well-known shmup titles. 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.
This game provides examples of:
- Adaptation Expansion: The Coleco Adam version adds a few stages that were not part of the original arcade version.
- 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.
- Compressed Adaptation: The home versions by Sega were reduced to having only a few stages and the mothership.
- Didn't Need Those Anyway!: 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.
- Doomy Dooms of Doom: Or in this case, "Zoomy Zooms of Zoom".
- 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.
- Final Boss Preview: At the start of the game (and at each loop), the source ship you fight at the end zooms past, and leaves a missile in its wake. It's flying higher than you can shoot, though, so you can't damage it at all.
- Flying Saucer: One of the common enemies faced.
- In Name Only: This game could have been called anything. The only Buck Rogers connection seems to be the artwork on the side of the game cabinet, presumably depicting Buck.
- 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.