Zero Hour

Intro screen #1 Intro screen #2
Intro screens 1 & 2
Acid Room game screen Conveyor Belts game screen
Acid Room & Conveyor Belts game screens
EMF Chamber game screen Firestorm game screen
EMF Chamber & Firestorm game screens
Hoist Screen game screen Hydraulic Lifter game screen
Hoist Crane & Hydraulic Lifter game screens
Power Generator game screen Robot Room game screen
Power Generator & Robot Room game screens
Romper Stomper game screen Shredder game screen
Romper Stomper & Shredder game screens
Slot Machine game screen Transporter Tubes game screen
Slot Machine & Transporter Tubes game screens
Zero Hour end screen - the bad one

Zero Hour ending screen - the bad one

Zero Hour is a bit of departure for Nick Marentes in his Coco 3 game development; while the game's graphics engine is an enhanced/optimized version of the engine he used in Gunstar, and it has his standard 2 channel driven sound, the game play is quite different. In Nick's previous games there have been unique level designs, but the gameplay has been basically the same between the levels (just with new opponents and/or objects to deal with). But in the case case of Zero Hour, Nick wanted to be more ambitious, and create unique gameplay in every level; in effect, mini-games that are different from each other. He also wanted some constantly animated large scaled graphics to run in th background (and sound to go with them), which is the various gear cogs that you can see on the above screenshots. Although there are still some common elements between each level (collecting EMF (Electro Magnetic Field) charges which can disable robots, jumping between elevator platforms and disabling security systems), each level adds their own unique gameplay elements, which will be touched on below. Another new thing in Zero Hour is that the player does not have to go through the levels sequentially. It always disappointed Nick that a lot of players of his previous Coco 3 games like Gunstar, PopStar Pilot, etc. would get stuck on earlier levels, and thus never see the later ones that he took so much time in designing and developing. So he decided to break from this "arcade mentality" (where players have to earn their way to each level thus spending more quarters), and allow the player to wander between all 12 levels whenever they want, from within the main Foyer level (a sequence of elevators with doors to each of the levels). There is one exception though: the final 13th level is locked until the player disables ALL of the security sensors (you can see the door to this 13th level on the Foyer screen at the top; but it has red locks on it until the player disables all the sensors). This means that only the better players will get to see this final stage and the final win screen, but all players will see more than 90% of the game. Nick is also more generous with lives - the player gets 9 and can win more. There is a timer going as well that counts down to 0 from 9999, so the player has a fair bit of time. The final level will not be pictured or fully described here, but suffice to say that the player has to disable the final nuclear bomb, and has to figure out how to enter the code to do so, and the code itself. It should also be mentioned that Zero Hour also supports the 6309; if one is present it runs about 10% faster. Now, in alphabetical order is a brief description of each of the 12 main gameplay levels reachable from the Foyer:

Acid Room
The unique gameplay element in this level is the rising/falling yellow acid pool (which goes high enough to cover the bottom 4 security systems) which will kill the player instantly if it touches them. And you still have robots to contend with.

Conveyor Belts
On this level, you disable the security systems by dropping the green boxes (that fire out of the two chutes at the top) onto them. You have push buttons to reverse the direction of the various conveyor belts, and you have to use combinations of these to disable all of them.

EMF Chamber
While on most levels you can only jump or fall down a short distance before dying, on this level (as long as you are in the green area) you can fall almost the entire length of the screen. On this screen you jump from moving platform to moving platform, collecting EMF charges as they appear (in addition to your normal task of disabling security systems). But if you fall completely to the bottom you die. This mini-game is based somewhat on Nick's BASIC/ML hybrid Waterfall game, which itself was based on Man Goes Down (originally for the Atari 2600).

On this level you jump from moving platform to moving platform, dodging fireballs that fire from 6 chutes at the top of the screen at random.

Hoist Crane
This level has 8 conveyor belts that move green boxes from the sides of the screen towards the middle. You have to hop onto the hoist crane and then catch the box. When you do, the security system on the at conveyer built is shut off... but if you miss the box and it falls to the bottom of the screen, then the security system is re-armed for that belt level, and you have to do it again.

Hydraulic Lifter
On this level you use your EMF charges for something different - they power up the Hydraulic Lifter, and 1 to 3 charges will let you go up that many floors. Warning - it comes back down fairly soon, so you can only do one side (left or right) each time. It also features blue slide chutes on each side; Once you walk into these, you float down to the bottom floor safely, no matter the height.

Power Generator
On this level you will see a couple of fires, and a push button on the top floor that will switch the fires from the left <-> right sides of the screen. But this button is guarded by randomly firing lethal electric sparks (you have a brief bit of time when they are charging - shown by red indicators - to know when to dodge them) which will kill the player instantly.

Robot Room
Somewhat self-explanatory, this room has a fair number of robots guarding security system switches, and all of those are on short platforms. The player will need to use a fair number of EMF charges to temporarily disable the robots so that they can pass them and shut the switches off.

Romper Stomper
This level requires good timing on the player's part; the player needs to dodge the stomping presses to disable the security systems.

This level multiple full height elevators to jump between... but you can't stay on them too long (in either direction), or you will die when you hit the spinning shredder blades at the top and bottom of the screen (with a very nice spinning blade effect).

Slot Machine
Probably the most unique level in the game, this features a slot machine in the middle, with 3 buttons. Pressing one of them activates the slot machine, which caused the 3 colored squares to start flashing between colors. The player then stops each one of them by pressing the appropriate button. If they match 2 of them to the same color, the player is rewarded with 5 extra EMF charges; matching 3 gains an extra life. But, each roll of the slot machine causes your timer to lose 200, so use with caution.

Transporter Tubes
This level combines switches to move a couple of fires around with the blue transporter tubes. One of them at any given time will have flashing outline - if the player has jumped into a tube, and hits the fire button, they will teleport to the currently flashing tube. The only way to get to the top levels is using the tubes.

Title: Zero Hour

Author: Nick Marentes

Publisher: Nick Marentes

Released: March 2022

Requires: Color Computer 3 ONLY, 6309 optional (enhanced speed), 512K RAM, disk, joystick (2 button optional).

Click here to go to Nick's order page for Zero Hour.

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