Review – Zero Tolerance Collection

I like to see myself as someone with a somewhat decent knowledge when it comes to retro gaming, but I had never heard of Zero Tolerance before tackling QuByte’s latest retro revival title, Zero Tolerance Collection. I am shocked as to why not, as this is the kind of game I love to check out. A game that, for all intents and purposes, should not be able to run on the hardware it was originally developed for. This is a Mega Drive first-person shooter. You know, the 16-bit console without polygonal capabilities, without scaling and rotation, without anything that would allow it to render anything closely resembling a 3D game. Yet, it exists, and I really need to talk about it for a bit.

Zero Tolerance Collection Capt. S. Ishii

A Mega Drive FPS. It’s janky as all hell. It runs poorly. But there’s just something about it…

This kind of game fascinates me. Prior to finding out about Zero Tolerance, I thought the only FPS available for the Mega Drive (or Sega Genesis, for the heathens in North America) was the Brazilian-exclusive port of Duke Nukem 3D, which is amusing, but really clunky. That console wasn’t made with 3D gaming in mind, let alone a genre as hardware-demanding as a first-person shooter. To think that someone was able to develop a half-decent game under so many hindrances and setbacks makes Zero Tolerance Collection worth checking out by itself.

I was a bit worried when I looked who was responsible for the porting/remastering of these games. PIKO Interactive is a company that lives and breathes retro, but the last game I played from them, the PC “remaster” of Glover, was severely underwhelming. It felt like I was merely playing a Glover ROM on a PC emulator. I was worried this would be the same case with Zero Tolerance Collection, but thankfully, PIKO put in some extra effort in this collection.

Zero Tolerance Collection Frame Rate

Under normal circumstances, Zero Tolerance runs at like half a dozen frames per second. With a flamethrower, it runs at a frame every half a dozen seconds.

Well, they didn’t exactly fix any of the issues present in the original game, as it still runs like crap, but I honestly think that, in this case, it’s kind of for the best. Being able to witness how this game originally ran on such crappy hardware is half of its appeal. Granted, the games included in this collection feature mappable controls, a vastly improved resolution, savestates, and screen filters, but the framerate and ridiculously small screen size (the game itself barely uses a third of its screen real estate) remain the same.

Gameplay-wise, the games included in this collection are a lot more simple than even the original DOOM. You are given a number of enemies to kill per map, and your objective is to locate them and shoot them. For the most part, maps are large and flat, and enemies are stupidly aggro. If you enter a room where some of them are located, they will charge towards you like enraged bulls, making things a lot easier when most are killed with a simple handgun shot, or a shotgun blast. You will have to deal with an atrocious framerate and really poor draw distance, though, but considering how easy those games are, it’s a deal you can put up with.

Zero Tolerance Underground

Zero Tolerance Underground is way too ambitious even when compared to its predecessor.

Two games are available right from the get-go, one being the original Zero Tolerance and the other one being the previously unreleased sequel, Zero Tolerance Underground. I was beyond impressed with the latter, but I really don’t know if the ROM I was playing contained exactly what was featured in the then-cancelled sequel. Let’s just say, it felt too ambitious, too revolutionary. Being able to strafe and jump on a game like this, years before Quake and other shooters… that’s too much for a Mega Drive game to handle. Either this title took advantage of some extra trinkets which debuted in titles after its cancellation, or we’re basically talking about a shooter as revolutionary as any of iD Software’s masterpieces. As crappy as it was to play it, Zero Tolerance Underground is shockingly ahead of its time for a Mega Drive game.

Zero Tolerance Collection Maps

For a game punching above its weight when it comes to hardware limitations, Zero Tolerance features somewhat good map designs.

Zero Tolerance Collection is a really weird retro compilation. Technically speaking, you are getting a bunch of really dated, janky, poorly performing first-person shooters that haven’t managed to stand the test of time. On the other hand, they are a fascinating achievement for their time, being better first-person shooters than even the titles available for the Super Nintendo. The sole fact they exist, and run as well as they do on such dated hardware, makes this collection worth checking out if you’re a retro enthusiast. 


Graphics: 5.0

The fact that a first-person shooter is running on Mega Drive hardware is impressive, but it doesn’t make it less ugly. Not to mention the poor framerate and the fact the game itself barely uses a third of the screen.

Gameplay: 6.0

You will have to put up with a lot of hindrances in order to play the games included in Zero Tolerance Collection, but somehow, they do play better than expected. You can get used to its gameplay after a while.

Sound: 5.5

The Mega Drive’s sound capabilities were limited, but even then composers were able to come up with much better tunes than the ones featured in these Zero Tolerance games. I was slightly impressed with the quality of the voice samples, though.

Fun Factor: 7.0

Those games have aged poorly, but they’re still fascinating, considering the hardware they were originally developed for. Zero Tolerance Collection is a bizarre compilation in terms of who was this made for, but I have to admit I had way more fun with it than expected.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Zero Tolerance Collection is available now on PS4 and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Zero Tolerance Collection was provided by the publisher.