Z-Exemplar is a side-scrolling shooter in the tradition of R-Type, Gradius, Nemesis and other classic arcade games from the past. Borrowing its aesthetic from the computers of yesteryear (specifically the Sinclair ZX Spectrum) Z-Exemplar combines bright, bold, 8-bit pixel art with frantic action and an epic mission to conquer a galaxy of almost 1000 planets.
Z-Exemplar was conceived as a love letter to the ZX Spectrum. Proudly retro, the game embraces the limitations of its 8-bit inspiration to deliver a fast-action, guns-toting, laser-blasting quest with intuitive gameplay and long-lasting appeal.
But it's not just nostalgia for its own sake.
There is something hugely appealing in the 8-bit aesthetic, something that can be absent in photo-realism. There is space for interpretation, for imagination and a vague assemblage of pixels can evoke in players a different emotion from that engendered by more detailed, distinct images. With the added vibrancy of the ZX Spectrum’s colour palette, this pixellated aesthetic gives Z-Exemplar’s visuals a unique and distinctive feel.
On its surface Z-Exemplar's gameplay appears simple - shoot anything that moves and collect the booty they leave behind - but the over-arching goal of the game is anything but. You are tasked with conquering all 960 planets that make up a hostile galaxy with each planet's defenses uniquely configured. As you explore the outer reaches of the galaxy, the defenses become stronger and enemies more lethal and numerous. There is abundant challenge in Z-Exemplar, challenge that grows with your experience.
To turn the battle in your favour you can access an arsenal of over 20 upgradeable weapons that transform your basic fighter craft into a devastating war machine - selecting the right loadout for each planetary battle is essential.
This is an update on Z-Exemplar's post-launch progress.
Reaction from those hat have played has been awesome. Many have logged 10+ hours of play and are still discovering new features and easter eggs hidden deep within the game. To my knowledge only one person has completed the game, conquering the Hewson Nebula in approximately 16 hours of game time. His Steam review of the game states he had a great time playing and it is hugely gratifying to find players investing so much of their time (a commodity in such short supply these days) in Z-Exemplar.
Online coverage has been decent, though we would always want more, with one reviewer at Flickeringmyth.com describing Z-Exemplar as "... a must for Retrogsmers" and giving it an 8/10 score.
There were some teething problems immediately after launch. Some players reported difficulty using various controllers which required a bit of a patch but generally the game has stood up to the rigour of being played in earnest.
Some players have commented on the difficulty level. Z-Exemplar starts out intentionally slowly - levels are short and fairly sparse but that soon changes. It is intended as a challenge and some later levels based on extremely hostile planets are certainly that. But this is how I wanted it to be - it is how I remember the games of my youth - hard, but most importantly, fair.
Now it is on to mobile versions of the game and making the game playable with touch screen. The guts of this work has already been done and I'm really happy with how the game plays but I need to make menus etc a bit more suited to touch.
Z-Exemplar is available now from Steam
Converting Z-Exemplar to mobile devices required some tricky touch-screen optimization. If it wasn't done right it could make the game unplayable.
Z-Exemplar has an updated trailer and our first work-in-progress, pre-alpha demo!
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