Zip 'N' Zap is another puzzle game from the prolific Jonathan Bristow, who is already known under the alias Twilighte as the creator of Magnetix, Zebulon and half a dozen more games. This time it's a game where two players can play simultaneously by sharing the keyboard.
As usual with Twilighte titles, the first reaction is one of shock; Zip 'N' Zap's presentation screens simply shows off for the first time in an Oric game a long 3 channel digital soundtrack. The music composition itself will not necessarily fit everybody's taste, but it's a nice touch anyway. This screen is composed of a nice hi-res inlay (Twilighte's signature) with the name of the game on the top, while the bottom part (in text mode) presents the keys that can be used as well as the meaning of the various tiles that can be encountered during the game. Setting the game for one player, pressing space, the music stops and the game begins.
The game area is formed of long path covered with tiles covered with different patterns. Our character, Zip (or Zap if you play as the second player) is typical: circular, two eyes and a mouth. He could have been a cousin of Pac-Man, Dizzy or Bombuzal. Zip's objective is to leave the starting tile and move to the exit tile (with a spiral design on it) while being sure that all of the intermediate tiles have been gone through the appropriate number of times. When the count on a tile reaches zero, it falls away from the screen and disappear after few seconds so Zip had better continue moving. Some of the tiles are rock solid and afford a pause in order to plan the next movement.
Of course, if it was made only of numbered tiles, it would have been easy. The problem is that you also have teleporters, some special tiles makes some new tiles appear and other things like this that makes you scratch the back of your head and think...
On the small detail side, as usual Twilighte managed to add things here and there to keep the player interested. The background is not simply black but is traversed by a starfield, moving on special tiles produces nice and original digitised sounds (a little bit like in the game Worms or Lemmings: "Oh noooooo !"), the colours of the play field is different from one puzzle to another, the main sprite is animated, and the puzzle layouts are totally different depending of if you play in solo or with a friend.
As far as the difficulty is concerned, the few first puzzles are simple enough to let you learn how the whole thing work but it quickly becomes very complicated with intricate paths to follow. Fortunately you generally manage to find the right solution quite quickly after a few attempts so it does not feel like the game has been made to frustrate the player.
Since some Oric owners are still playing on black and white TV sets using the RF modulator, I'd like to point out that playing Zip 'N' Zap on this kind of setup can be quite problematic since some of the colours schemes used on the puzzles appear as light grey on a slightly darker light grey, meaning that you can't see at all the details on the tiles. Apart from this, the fact that the game is available either in Tape of Disk format makes it usable for any Oric owner. In the end, Zip 'N' Zap can be considered as a very enjoyable and well thought puzzle game, and would be welcome in any Orician game collection.