November 04, 2010, at 01:50 PM

Mini Review: Zool

The Amiga’s answer to Sonic the Hedgehog... how bad can it be? Very. The main character - a ninja ant gremlin, no less - seems right out of a mid-1990s “what will appeal to the kids” committee (what, no skateboard?). The level themes are garish, but at least not forest/ice/lava/etc.

Graphics

The original game had an inexplicable sponsorship by Chupa Chups, hence the candy-themed first level. That’s carried through, although there are four more themes in later stages which have nothing to do with the sponsorship.

The graphics themselves... well, there’s no background. It’s entirely solid. And that is a real problem in this game. The level layouts are apparently different to other versions, which makes it hard to compare; but for the SMS, we have a typically-sized sprite that can jump very high and run very fast, and levels with lots of “sky”. You often get into positions where you can’t see where you are, what direction you’re travelling or where you’re aiming for. That’s just awful and could have been solved with some simplistic backdrops or just designing the game a bit better to reduce how often this happens.

Apart from that, it’s all downconversion of the artwork.

Sound

Conversions, initially quite jolly but soon becoming grating.

Longevity

Five worlds, three large levels each means it’ll last a while but I don’t think there’s any replayability. A level select might have helped.

Plot

None.

Fun

  • Blind jumps (×1000)
  • Over-fast movement
  • Entirely blank screens mid-jump
  • Trying to hit a 1-block platform when a touch on the D-pad moves you 1.5 blocks
  • Enemies hit you within 5 frames of appearing on-screen
  • Enemies that pop out when you walk past, barely distinguishable from the scenery
  • Bosses that have no indication of when you’ve hit them

Yes, it’s a frustrating game.

Innovation

Well, they took a basic platformer and turned the speed up. A lot. But they didn’t take consideration of what that meant, so you’re left with savestates or memorisation. The wall-clinging is interesting, but the unkillable wall-moving enemies break that. Sliding is an interesting mechanic but under-used. The level themes are somewhat original.

Conclusion

A screwed up wannabe character game. It got a sequel on Amiga and then died out... and I’m hardly surprised.


Mini Review Ratings