Fortified Zone 3DS review

Price: $3.99
Size: 33 Blocks
First Released: 1991

Talk about literal. Fortified Zone is a top-down shooter about – wait for it – a fortified zone. In this particular case, it’s one that’s in need of some serious blowing-up, which is where the game’s unique dual protagonists come in. You play as two mercenaries that each have their own strengths and can be swapped-out on the fly to tackle different situations that arise while slogging through the maze-like rooms of the aforementioned fortress. While this essentially gives you better odds at reaching the final boss alive, each character is useful in certain instances.

The Rambo lookalike Masato is a beefy dude who can pick up extra weapons like machine guns, grenades, and rockets. He’s a hefty tank best used for mowing down bosses and tackling tougher foes. His female counterpart, Mizuki, can’t use special weaponry, but she’s nimble and can jump. Avoiding pits, spikes, and quick foes is her specialty. Together they must battle robots, creatures, and enemy troops to reach the heart of the fortified fortress and blow the hell out of it.

Beyond the unusual character swapping mechanic, some rooms have interesting standout features, including darkened rooms that obscure pits, retractable spikes that make progress perilous, and even a destructible machine that temporarily reverses your character’s movement controls. These elements are pleasant surprises that help change up the monotonous nature of navigating room after basic room. Fortified Zone has some cool boss encounters and a few nifty twists on the explore-and-shoot gameplay, but it’s a short and easy game to beat. Once you blast and roam through the game’s four very similar-looking maze levels, there’s not much else to do, which is a bummer since it’s actually pretty fun.

Jul 15, 2011

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