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Video Game / Net Zone

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NetZone, stylized as NET:Zone, is a computer game developed by Compro Games and published by GameTek in 1996 for the PC. It is a Cyberpunk, puzzle, and point-and-click adventure game wherein the player explores a 3D cyberspace environment created by a company named Cycorp.

You play as Newton Winters, looking for signs of your missing father, Zel Winters, who had disappeared some time ago after the company Cycorp went under. After cracking Zel's password, it turns out he left an urgent message on his laptop, asking whoever found it to use his neural interface to enter Cycorp's Genecys Zone and help him before his enemies threaten the security and computer networks of the planet.


NetZone contains examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: The game box included a booklet containing Newton's diary entries before the game starts, and news clippings around his dad's disappearance, some of which can be seen in the intro.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Cycorp produces Artificial life forms, known as CY-11s.
  • Aside Glance: Newton smiles and winks at the camera before he leaves in the good ending.
  • Big Bad: Walter Sayle, your dad's colleague and founder of Cycorp, having since gone rogue and created the Cyberworm.
  • Book-Ends: The game starts with Newton finding his dad's message and logging into the Genecys Zone, and ends with him logging out and waking up from his VR-induced trance.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: When run on DOS, the game closes at the end with a message over the command prompt reading, "Congratulations! You have successfully disengaged the neural interface connection and logged-out of NET:Zone."
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  • Brain–Computer Interface: How the Genecys Zone is accessed, by use of a pair of electrodes attached to the user's forehead.
  • Brain Uploading: Zel's memories were backed up before he died, per Cycorp's policy for all senior members.
  • Cool Airship: The Zeppelin, used to reach Cycorp's floating Design Center.
  • Computer Virus: Midway through the game, you have to play a Hacking Minigame to get rid of a couple viruses blocking your way to some systems, and Walter's big plan is to use Cycorp's systems to create a "Cyberworm" to hold all the world's data for ransom.
  • Cyberspace: The Genecys Zone is this, with all of Cycorp existing within it.
  • Data Pad: You get a virtual PDA to perform tasks and operate machines around the Genecys Zone. It also doubles as your inventory, map, notepad, and game options.
  • Digital Avatar: Zel and Walter's look like floating gray CGI busts, with varying animations inside each one.
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  • Disconnected Side Area: The Central Intelligence Core, a radio tower-like structure in the middle of the Central Dome, reached by a tram called the Cabletron. It remains inaccessible up until the endgame, when Zel gives you an override code for the Cabletron.
  • Electronic Speech Impediment: When you finally reach the Central Intelligence Core, it speaks to you in a slurred, confused manner due to the Cyberworm currently leeching off its energy.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Walter.
  • Extreme Graphical Representation: The Genecys Zone runs on this, with each wing of Cycorp shown as huge elaborate buildings in differing environments, with its functions controlled through virtual computers and holographic projections.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: The Elimination Zone, where unwanted CY-11s are sent to be deleted. It's even shaped like a volcano, and your transportation there is a rocket named the Vulcan.
  • Game-Over Man: In the bad ending, the last thing you see is Cycorp's CY-11 spokesperson, saying, "We hope you enjoyed your visit to Cycorp, where, 'virtually' anything is possible!" before the screen goes black and your PDA warns you of being unable to log you out of the Genecys Zone.
  • Guide Dang It!: Due to its technical-based puzzles and lack of guidance, many players will often be reaching for a guide. Some examples include fixing the Zeppelin the right way, or some of the puzzles in the Testing Facility.
  • Hint System: The main menu in your PDA includes hints for some of the puzzles.
  • Hub World: The Central Dome, where you first enter the Genecys Zone. Being the very nerve center of Cycorp, it acts as a docking bay for the four vehicles to the other locations, and a network connection to a small group of websites.
  • Huge Holographic Head: Walter's first recording depicts him as this, covering a door into the maze.
  • Live-Action Cutscene: Newton is the sole character shown in live action.
  • The Maze: There's one in the Manufacturing Center, separating the entrance from the rest of the building. Passing through it involves first entering a code to lay down the proper path, thankfully provided by your PDA's auto-map.
  • Mooks: In various flavors, ranging from generic security robots to Walter's personal Disciples.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • If you manage to run a copy of the Cyberworm at the Core in time, Cycorp detects this and has both versions deleted. Zel then logs you out and asks you to keep his existence secret.
    • Conversely, if the timer runs out, the Cyberworm gets loose, Zel and all of Cycorp are deleted, and you end up brain-dead courtesy of your neural interface.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: After your father is revived, all the downloaded flashbacks fully clear up. This also allows you to see the password to Walter's computer.
  • Schmuck Bait: Using some of Cycorp's functions triggers Walter's recordings, which also activate programmed traps around the Genecys Zone. These functions work properly after the recording finishes, though.
  • Sequel Hook: After Newton logs out in the good ending, another urgent message pops up on his laptop, from someone saying that Zel has gone mad. The game then closes before any further details can be shown .
  • Solve the Soup Cans: A heavy chunk of the game's puzzles, some of which are deliberately set up by Walter to make your quest harder
  • Story Breadcrumbs: With Zel's databank, you're able to download flashbacks of what he and Walter did together in Cycorp. Walter also left his own recordings to taunt you on your progress.
  • Themed Cursor: Your cursor is a "Cy-Prod",a metal finger that points in directions you can go, and darts around randomly when near something interactive.
  • The Three Trials: The Testing Facility's main purpose, with four test chambers meant to test CY-11s, and humans, on moral choices and navigation.
  • Timed Mission: At the endgame. Once the cyberworm gets loose and your dad is ressurected, you have 20 minutes to build a copy of the worm so Cycorp isolates both, before the original completes its ransomware function. This means repeating the steps you did to build a CY-11 within that time limit.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The game takes place in 2016.
  • Underwater Base: The Manufacturing Center is underwater, with a submarine called the Atlantis used to reach it.
  • Virtual Ghost: Zel Winters becomes this when you use his databank to revive him as a CY-11.
  • Voiceover Letter: Zel's urgent message is narrated by him.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's never explained what happened to Walter after he set up his plan, just that "[he'll] be long gone" by then. The endgame message may have alluded to this, if a sequel had been made.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Walter discusses this with Zel in one cutscene, finding CyCorp's elimination policy immoral and unnecessary, and reluctant to destroy his creations because of it. This likely formed Walter's motive for the rest of the game.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Walter's last trick is to activate the Cyberworm, and hijack the Central Dome to overload your neural interface, rendering you a vegetable forever trapped within the Genecys Zone. It's implied that this is also how Zel died.

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