零刻 (Moment Zero)
This time a Flash shmup from Uminin of the Flash Game Zone in Japan. Moment Zero is a mostly grayscale shooter of exceptional design. Noteworthy features include a lock-on targeting mechanism and multiple paths through the game.
From the initial enemy wave you can tell this isn't any ordinary shooter. The game displays a dynamic crosshair, positioned with mouse movement, with which to aim. Move the point of intersection onto an enemy to establish target locks. Locks are indicated by semi-circular lines that close in around the enemy being targeted, and the number of locks established is indicated by small gray triangles above the lock. Locks accrue one-by-one until the maximum number of eight (8) per enemy is attained, or until the number of locks required to destroy the enemy have been accumulated. The lock around an enemy turns red when the number of locks required to destroy the enemy have been established.
Understanding the locking mechanism is key to getting higher scores, since the number of locks indicated becomes the score multiplier for enemies targeted in red lock state. At several junctures along the way, the path of the game diverges and your score determines the route you take. Open map.
Control is with the mouse for targeting as noted above, and the space bar is used for firing. All targets locked-on are fired upon with once press of the space bar. You can press [B] to cancel locks targeted. This may be useful since later enemies will fire at you when you lock-on them. By canceling targeting, you can therefore aim at only the shots fired at you and rack up more points by repeating the process.
I believe the translated name comes from the fact that once a lock is established, the distance to the target is displayed. As enemies close in, that number approaches zero. If you are unsuccessful in destroying the target before the target distance reaches zero, you will take damage at that moment. Hence, Moment Zero.
While this is certainly not the first game to utilize a targeting mechanism, Uminin's implementation is nicely done and integrates well with the design of the game. Add to that a solid game engine that features lots of enemies and multiple paths through the game. Another fine example of exceptional Flash game design coming from Japan. Click.