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Zanac (NES)

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This page contains changes which are not marked for translation.
Other languages:
English • ‎한국어

Title Screen


Also known as: Zanac A.I. (JP/title screen)
Developer: Compile
Publishers: Pony Canyon (JP), FCI (US)
Platforms: Famicom Disk System, NES
Released in JP: November 28, 1986 (FDS)
Released in US: October 1987

AreasIcon.png This game has unused areas.
DebugIcon.png This game has debugging material.
SoundtestIcon.png This game has a hidden sound test.
LevelSelectIcon.png This game has a hidden level select.
RegionIcon.png This game has regional differences.
Carts.png This game has revisional differences.

NotesIcon.png This game has a notes page
DCIcon.png This game has a Data Crystal page

Zanac is arguably one of the greatest vertically-scrolling shooters ever to grace the NES, although it originated on the MSX. In any case, it's amazing.


Miscellaneous tidbits that are interesting enough to point out here.

Debug Mode

Time to Recc-tify the situation!
The game contains a debug mode that allows you to skip levels, give yourself any weapon, or maximize your lives. The method of activating it is a real doozy: it requires the US cart, a Famicom, and a Family BASIC Keyboard!

  1. Power on the console.
  2. Soft reset the game 9 times.
  3. Type @COMPILE and press Return. You should hear the 1-up jingle play.
  4. Start the game as usual.

You should now have the full set of debugging features at your command. All of them are activated while the game is paused. The known functions are as follows:

Controller 1:

  • SELECT - Select weapon.

Family Keyboard:

  • CLR - 255 lives.
  • INS - Warp to next area.
  • DEL - Warp to previous area. Notably, this will take you to Area 12 if done in Area 1 despite the existence of Area 0.

Curiously, while the Japanese version contains the Keyboard-reading routine, it is not referenced anywhere else in the game's code. The rest of the debugging code doesn't seem to have been programmed in yet by the time of its release.

NOTE: Some emulators have a bug that prevents this code from working properly. See the Notes page for more details.

Area 0

Welcome to Minus World.
Use stage modifier 0091000 to access Area 0. Area 0 uses Area 12's music, loops endlessly, and is devoid of the numbered weapon powerups. It appears to be either a memory filler stage or possibly a test stage. It seems like it could have been used to test enemy patterns, in particular the game's AI system and the effects on it caused by shooting or not shooting the Sart enemies (seen in the screenshot to the left of the Zanac ship) that lower or raise the AI.

Area 0 became an unlockable bonus stage in the PlayStation remake on Zanac X Zanac.

(Source: GameHacking)

Sound Test

As with The Guardian Legend, another game by Compile, hold A + B and press Reset to access the Sound Test. This feature is in the NES version only.

Alternatively, press Start + Select + A + B when "Game Over" appears.

Area Select

Zanac (NES)-levelselect.png
Press Reset (×13), then press Start to go in the main game menu. Press Left or Right to choose a level, then choose the "game start or continue" option and press Start. To start at Area 11 or 12, hold Up on Controller 1 as well. Do the same if you want to continue the game after Area 10.

Alternative Ship

Standard Alternate
Zanac Player Ship Standard.png Zanac Player Ship Alternative.png

In the main menu, press A + B to enter the game and change the appearance of the player's ship.

(Source: StrategyWiki)

Hidden Message

Japan US
Zanac NES - FDS Ending.png Zanac NES ending.png

In the ending scene, after the standard credits appears, the fairy will move to center of bottom area of screen. Wait some seconds (the time is shorter in US version) until the fairy moves to end of "Created by Compile", then press A + B on Controllers 1 and 2 to display "SEE YOU AGAIN IN GUARDIC". Guardic is another shooter by the same company for the MSX, released the same year as the FDS version of this game. While Compile released an NES game named Guardic Gaiden two years later (known overseas as The Guardian Legend), it has no relation to this message whatsoever.

In the Playstation version, the text becomes "SEE YOU AGAIN IN ZANAC NEO" instead, where the "ZANAC NEO" refers to Zanac X Zanac itself.

Regional Differences

To do:
Special weapon item differences, The most obvious of these are Areas 1 and 2.

Title Screen

Japan US
Zanac NES - FDS title.png Zanac-Title.png

Compile's name, the copyright symbol, and three of the periods are rendered in a new font that's also used in the game's new menu and ending screen. "Designed" is now misspelled "desinded". Pony Canyon's copyright and logo were moved up to make room for Nintendo of America's credit, that logo no longer appears with a "wipe" motion, and the year was pulled against the copyright symbol. The area number is one space further to the right when it's a single digit.

Extra Menu

Zanac (NES)-levelselect.png
The NES version added a screen to select "GAME START" and "CONTINUE". The FDS version requires holding Select while pressing Start to continue from the latest area reached.


Japan US

Area 1's music is one whole step lower in key, going from A to G. Area 3's version is affected the same way but still skips the introduction.

Japan US

Area 4's music was raised two whole steps, from F to A, and the lead was given a rougher tone. It now debuts in Area 2.

The NES version also added additional music:

Area 6/9 (Sound Test 31)

Area 5/7/11 (Sound Test 32)

Alternate Area 10 (Sound Test 33)

Alternate Game Over (Sound Test 35)

The last two tracks are only accessed through a secret. The alternate Game Over music plays if Select is held during the start of a Game Over, while the alternate area music plays if Select is held while destroying a fortress in Area 10. This is just one of several button codes that only work in the cartridge version.

(Source: StrategyWiki)

Game Play

In the FDS version, tile 1 special weapon does not have the strongest form of moving slowly counterclockwise.


Japan US
Zanac Degid Bottom FDS.png Zanac Degid Bottom NES.png

The Degid color scheme that appears from the bottom of the NES version is different from the FDS version.

Mini-Boss Palettes

In the NES version, the "Capital Ship" mini-bosses change color from blue to gold to pale yellow with red lines as their life is depleted. In the FDS version, those same mini-bosses remain blue throughout.


  • Weapon Distro/Kyariu flashes colors differently between versions.
  • During the loading stage of the FDS version, the HUD is displayed immediately, and the loading time is slightly longer than in the NES version.
  • The FDS version has a different non-artistic font form than the NES version, and only appears in the ending screen.
  • The above cheat codes for the NES version do not work on the FDS version aside from the hidden message.

Revision Differences

Zanac would see a re-release on the Project EGG service. This re-release is based on the NES version.

NES Project EGG
Zanac-Title.png Zanac Project EGG TitleScreen.png

The copyright info was removed in the Project EGG version.