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HSC12 Round 16: Zone Ranger


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Returning to the HSC is the extremely nice space shoot 'n' collecter Zone Ranger. Each level has more features activated and by features I mean obstacles that will destruct your little ship. OK I'm making this up (did I even need to say that?) but something like; deactivate the satellites by shooting them (they are in a grid formation) the screens wrap round. Then, OR better still enter the complex [pretzel] and collect the thingys to complete the level... [you then touch the ship that's buzzing around and he'll deactivate a satellite for each dot you collected] probably best to read the instructions but it's not difficult (to start with).

Download NEW Fandal PAL FIXED XEX info here

Info Atarimania or the ballalley lowdown post below. Youtube 5200 video

RULES: The warphole to Level 7 is NOT ALLOWED. So don't use it! If you fly into it by accident restart your go :P


Standard HSC scoring. Set new HSC record (trbb 24,665).

Round finishes Sunday 4th November OCTOBER! 2015 10am UK time

Let's play Atari

Edited by therealbountybob
New PAL fixed version!
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I'm back! Just got outfitted with an 800xl and a MyIDE II cart. No more emulation for me (or at least a lot less emulation for me.) ;)


And what a week to come back to. I love Zone Ranger! Just a quick word on the warp...it's not really worth it to warp 7 levels for 5K points anyway because you can score many more points (and extra lives) by playing through levels 1-6.


Game on! Excited to be back! :)

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Game on! Excited to be back! :)

This is great news! Watch out for a catch-up round in the near future and add a few of your favourites to the games list when you have time :)


I love Zone Ranger - a really good game and well worth putting in the time to work out what to do everyone :skull:

3,830 reached level 4 where it got much more difficult :-o

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"Zone Ranger is really quite fun, it's worth understanding how to play it properly. Here is the box art for the game:





To grab your attention when you're debating if you should purchase this game, here is what should have attracted you pick the game up for full-price in 1984:


Over 30 separate zones of indescribable danger. Pitting you against a devastatingly evil minefield of destruction. Not to mention countless horrible enemies. Strike them and they only multiply.


Detonate the deadly mines that litter your cosmos or you'll be sorry. Find an elusive, mysterious superportal and you'll get even. It's intense multiscreen action. Which, loosely translated, simply means, it's awesome fun.

If you think that hyperbole is over-the-top, then check out what the front of the manual has to say.



A Bad, Bad, Bad, Night Indeed.

Screwy Satellites.

Irksome Killer Rocks.

Irritating Repairbots.


It's a sad and sorry sight. So, clean-up the unfriendly skies by blasting all satellites in the allotted time. Or you're history.


Here are three screenshots of the game:





I've OCRed, proofread and formatted the Atari Home Computer/Atari 5200 version of the manual. I've removed references to the 5200 to simplify the manual for use Atari 8-Bit users:




  • Insert cartridge into your computer with power Off. Then, turn power ON.
  • Plug a Joystick or controller into port one.
If using an Atari Home Computer:
  • Press the START button to begin.
  • Press the SELECT button first for two player version. Players share Joystick.
  • Press the SPACE BAR to pause. Press again to continue.
  • Press SYSTEM RESET to return to title screen
  • Pilot your cruise ship by moving the Joystick in the desired direction.
  • To fire, press Joystick button
CRUISE SHIPS. Begin with four and earn one more for every 1000 points earned. Each ship has unlimited fire power.



They're everywhere. Colliding with ANY of them will destroy your ship, but a few of them demand special mention.
  • SATELLITES. Destroy all sixteen satellites in any level to advance to the next level. Green and red communication beams link the satellites together. Don't let the red beams strike your ship!!
  • KILLER ROCKS. Silent, get-in-the-way stuff that just lumber about. Relatively harmless... until you run into one.
  • REPAIRBOTS. When the red alert sounds, enter any warp hole. Then, shoot the repairbot that's fixing to fix up a destroyed satellite.
  • BOOMERANGS. The worst. You'll find out. Strictly higher level material.


  • WARP HOLES. A momentary means of escape. Enter and exit as you please.
  • SONIC SPARKLERS. Touch them and you'll be invincible for as long as their music plays.
  • SUPER PORTAL. Your only entry into The Inner Sanctum.
  • THE INNER SANCTUM. Drop in for free help. Go for the dots.
  • SKYWAY PATROL. When you return from The Super Portal, come in contact with the Skyway patrol. He'll knock off one satellite for every dot you got.
  • SEVENTH DIMENSION. Enter at your own risk. Sure, you'll get more points. But you won't last as long. (Found in level one only.)



"Just thought that I'd clue you in to what I've discovered out there. Entering a Warp Hole may be an easy way to escape immediate danger. But a word for the spacewise: it COULD be worse where you exit. Also, in case you can't find the satellites, follow the path of the beams, finally, touch the safety Sonic Sparklers whenever you can, especially if you plan to tackle one of the vicious boomerangs."



The instructions should really help people to understand this game before they get started. The biggest tip is to make sure to use the "Super Portal" to enter the "Inner Sanctum" (the maze). Collect as many dots as you can in the Portal. When you exit the "Inner Sanctum," it's time to touch the "Skyway Patrol" ship. After you do that, then the "Skyway Patrol" will destroy as many satellites as the number of dots that you gathered in the "Super Portal." When you see the screen flash, then you know that the Satellites are being destroyed off-screen. On the beginning of the level, try to destroy some Satellites before touching the "Skyway Patrol" ship. This way you're not stuck looking for the last few surviving Satellites on a level.

Edited by ballyalley
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Not played this before. 10234 albeit with a warp to level 7

sorry but the warp is not allowed this time, so it's a restart if you go in there! [it looks like a square box EVERYONE]

instead head straight for the pretzel on each level guys ;)


17,104! Made it to level 11. It's all coming back to me now. :)


:thumbsup: the high score club record is getting nervous :-o

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"Zone Ranger" was a rather popular game by Activision, but I'm having a difficult time finding a review for the Atari 8-Bit version of the game from when the game was released. "Zone Ranger" on the Atari 8-Bit and the Commodore 64 are nearly the same game on both systems. I did find a review of the Commodore 64 re-release of "Zone Ranger" from the April 1987 issue of "Zzap 64" magazine. I've OCRed, proofread and formatted the it, The review seems to be written by three or four people. Here is the general review of the game:

Firebird, £1.99 cassette, joystick only

Set in the multi-dimensional realms of space, you play an intergalactic Good Guy, shooting out malevolent satellites. Despite the name of the game, you're firmly on your own: there's no futuristic Tonto to help out. Piloting a craft with unlimited reserves of fuel and ammunition you have to destroy a set of sixteen satellites that form an alien communication network before progressing to the next level where a similar task awaits...



Space is a relatively empty place on earlier levels-- the target satellites drift gently, pulsing out light beams in four directions to maintain communication with their colleagues in the network. Chunky brown meteorites drift around aimlessly, doing no-one any harm as they follow the solar winds, and circular warp-holes created by the alien space engineers allow a canny pilot to hop from one part of space to another, painlessly and quickly.

Your task is to destroy all the satellites on a level, and it can be completed in one of two ways. The most obvious solution is to zoom around space using the pulses of light generated by your targets to locate them, dealing laser death to the mechanical creations on an individual basis. Alternatively, locate the Super Portal which gives access to an Inner Sanctum-- a maze constructed of force-field walls and moving barriers. Inside the maze you can pick up glowing dots by driving your craft into them-- a tricky task, as the walls of the maze and circular field generators bounce the space cruiser around if it hits them. Contact with a moving red barrier or one of the yellow exit warp gates returns the cruiser to satellite-ridden space with a cargo of dots on board. If you can then find the Skyway Patrol craft, piloting the cruiser into it causes a satellite to be automatically destroyed for every dot collected in the Inner Sanctum maze.

On early levels, the bolts of light emitted by satellites are green and harmless, but on later levels deadly red laser bolts are also encountered. Other hazards encountered more frequently on later levels are meteorites, and alien defense craft which materialize at random and give chase, firing laser energy in your direction and attempting to collide with you. To gain some respite, it is possible to drive into a Sonic Sparkler-- a twinkling clump of dust that confers temporary invincibility.



Original equipment consists of four space cruisers, with an additional craft added for every 1,000 points earned. There is a set time for each level to be completed, and failing to destroy all 16 satellites within this limit results in the loss of one ship. When a complete network of targets has been destroyed any remaining time units are exchanged for bonus points.

Just to make life for a would be Space Hero that bit more frustrating, the aliens left behind an automatic robot repair system that sets about fixing up damaged satellites. The space cruiser's sensors detect robot activity, and when the alert sounds it's wise to seek out and destroy the offending android.

Presentation: 82%
Elegant game structure, enough relevant on-screen information, and an attract mode.

Graphics: 81%
Little variety, but different, characteristic and very effective with it.

Sound: 58%
A few functional spot effects.

Hookability: 83%
Instantly rewarding and addictive.

Lastability: 77%
Easy to pick up and play - at any time.

Value: 94%
A veritable bargain - not to be missed.

Overall: 80%
A neat and cheap addition to the shoot 'em up range.


There are three mini-reviews in side-columns in the above review. These reviews aren't credited by name, but rather by initials. I've tried to credit the correct person in the review, but I couldn't find names for each set of initials. I think the names I chose (in brackets) are correct, but I could be wrong.

Mini-Review #1
By P.S. [Paul Sumner]

This is a very slick two-element game that has you haring around open space on the trail of targets -or bouncing around inside a maze looking for a short-cut to satellite destruction. The graphics and sound are well-polished, as you would expect of what was originally a full-price game (even if it several years old), and the game-play contains enough to keep you hooked. You can't really go wrong with your two quid, especially if space shoot 'em ups have any appeal for you. Well done Firebird - what's next on the menu?

Mini-Review #2
By J.R. [Julian Rignall]

This might be archaic, but it's one of the best budget shoot'em ups around. The instructions are deliberately sparse, leaving it up to the player to discover all the hidden features - and there are quite a number of them. Anyway, a lot of the fun is derived from suddenly being dumped into a situation and having to work out what to do next I liked the variation between the frenetic blasting and dodging in the main section, and the slow bouncing around within the inner sanctum. The graphics are really odd - very unlike a 64 game In fact - and the sound effects do a good job In adding to the strange spacey atmosphere. Great stuff - put it high on your * must buy' list.

Mini-Review #3
By R.E.

For something that's nothing more than an old variation on the Asteroids theme, Zone Ranger has stood the test of time well. This is mainly due to its fast, exciting and addictive qualities. The graphics aren't astounding, in fact they're a slightly weak in places, but with game-play as good as this, you don't have to worry about little things like that The frequent appearance of the Inner Sanctum maze provides a relaxing break from the otherwise hectic blasting. However it's never long before you're back into the action, great thing about Zone Ranger is that It can be picked up and played at any time - it's a good, straightforward blaster that stands up well today against so many complicated games.

Can anyone find any reviews of "Zone Ranger" from an Atari magazine from the 1980s around the time of "Zone Ranger's" release in 1984?

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Thanks for the info Bally, as always!

I'm glad that the manuals and the information that I find prove useful to other people besides myself when I'm playing these games. I figure that if I post the manuals for the games that I like, then maybe other people will understand them better and give them more of a chance to play them and enjoy them more. The more the merrier. To me this isn't a competition; it's just a good, fun way to get to experience games that I love and discover games that I've never heard about before now.


I'm still not good at this game, will practice again tomorrow

I just played a few rounds of "Zone Ranger" today for practice too. I'll need to not only practice this game, but get used to the controls again. I'd forgotten how hard that "Zone Ranger" is on joysticks (and hands and fingers!). After four or five lengthy games, my hands began to cramp a bit. Working around the "Inner Sanctum" really gives both my hands and Atari CX-40 joystick a good workout. My joystick was creaking and moaning as I steered my way around the maze, but the controller never faltered. Steering isn't so bad on the early levels, when you can't be destroyed in the "Inner Sanctum." It's later when the passive obstacles become deadly to touch that precise control and quick movements become very important. That's when I begin to get hand-fatigue and need to take a break.

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Here is my first score worth posting for "Zone Ranger:"


Zone Ranger - 7,414 (Real Hardware: Atari 130XE, NTSC)




Please ignore the 7,602-point hi-score in this screenshot: it doesn't count. That "hi-score" was reached on my first or second game when I accidentally took the warp to Level 7. I ended up starting that game over right away. The only time I used to use the warp to Level 7 (on purpose) was back in the 80s when I didn't know any better. I don't need to reach Level 7; it's on Level 3 when the game begins to get hard for me. Today, I can't get past Level 4 (although I think that I've done it in the past).

Those Boomerangs that are mentioned in the manual start on Level 3 (or is it Level 4?). The manual only has this to say about them: "The worst. You'll find out. Strictly higher level material." When you reach the Boomerangs you'll see that they truly are nasty! There are at least two other baddies that aren't even mentioned in the manual. One, which is sort of like a mine that explodes after a few seconds, looks like a tiny UFO. Once it explodes, the destroyed parts fly around the screen, and they're quite deadly to you. Also, there is another baddy that just chases you around, but it's not too hard to destroy (at least as far as I've reached in the game).

I've never seen a breakdown of the characters in "Zone Ranger." I may make a small chart over the next couple of weeks of play and see if anyone knows the names of the characters in the game that aren't mentioned in the manual. Also, until I re-read the manual today, I forgot that entering a Warp Hole brings you right to a Satellite that is under restoration by a Repairbot. Using the Warp Hole is a handy way to reach the Repairbot before your hard work of destroying a Satellite is undone.

"Zone Ranger" reminds my of Namco's 1981 game called "Bosconian." "Zone Ranger" isn't a copy of it, but I doubt that it would exist without it. Here is a link to "Bosconian" on Wikipedia:


Here is a link to a video review of the "Bosconian:"


If you're like me, then you'll enjoy getting kicked-around a bit in "Zone Ranger."

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no idea how I got 24k before but I've had a good session and reached round 8: 12,688 pretty freaking intense :-o :-o :D

I like to try and float around vertically (in ecstasy) turning left/right as I approach the satellites and take out each column. Scoring is a bit off as sometimes you are lucky and die just before the end of level and get a new set of bonus time - just play no using this deliberately guys ;)


Nice info again ballyalley :thumbsup: these make the HSC threads a good read (including for anyone reviewing a game), will we get another issue of Pro© powersoft ?!!! my joystick cables are crossed :-D


Now I've read it all I wondered what those other alerts where. That last reviewer clearly didn't understand the game if he thought it was just another Asteroids... I think the biggest downside is the warp on level 1 being "in game" casual players almost certainly will go into it, not realise what it is, and are put off by the sudden ramp up in difficulty. Great game :love:


p.s. Bosconian looks interesting - just watching the video now. Perhaps one to add to the "games I'd like to see thread on the main forum :thumbsup:


[score for bluecat from the other day 530]

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Takes me about 30 minutes to get that high. My tip is: Always go for the inner sanctum...and the faster you find it, the more you can score on the level. I managed a score of over 2,000 points on level 1 because I found it right off. :)


And by the way, the lives counter only goes to 9, but extras above 9 are kept in memory, so you can have more than 9 lives in reserve.

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And another submission: 21,302! Getting close to that HSC record. I think I would have done it, but I crashed into a frozen beam rider, so all my extra lives kept spawning on top of it...killing me instantly. I lost 7 lives and my game ended on level 13. :mad:



Edited by Deteacher
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