Have you ever watched in envy as your friends played "Sonic the Hedgehog" on their fancy Sega consoles? Always wanted to play such a fast platformer on your ST? Well, "Zool" was the much hyped "Sonic" beater for the home computer! Released in 2 different versions for the Atari ST (an ST version and an STe enhanced version) by Gremlin Graphics, this game should have it all, big sprites, colorful graphics and most importantly... SPEED!
The story is the same old dull stuff we come to expect from a platform game. You are Zool, an intergalactic ninja, traveling across the galaxy. You are forced to land on Earth. There you'll have to battle your way through 7 worlds to prove you're a real ninja! Oh my god... could this plot be any more lame?
The first thing you notice when playing the game is the fantastically smooth and fast scrolling! I've tested the STe enhanced version and everything runs great! Only when the screen gets overloaded with enemies, bonuses and other stuff, we notice a slight glitch in the scrolling. The sprites in the game are all very big and detailed. "Zool" is a bit of a hybrid between an ant and a "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle". He looks really cool! Animation is terrific. Just try and make Zool stand on the edge of a platform and see how he tries to maintain his balance! All other objects are of the same caliber! It's all great to look at.
Backgrounds are nice and colorful, though a bit plain! I like the backgrounds of let's say, "The Addams Family" better. Some more detail should have been nice! The interactivity of some parts of the background graphics is a really nice touch though! eg. By Jumping on a piano, you can actually play music! It's also possible to destroy speakers for extra bonus points!
This is were the game drops to a minimum. The music and sound FX are pretty good, but there is a big problem. You can choose between sound FX or Music when you start a game. There are 4 types of music... Rock, Rave, Green and Funk!
They all sound fine, problem is, the song you choose is played in every single level till you complete the game! This gets really boring, and in the end even annoying. Why they had to do it this way, is beyond me...
There are 7 worlds for you to explore:
"Sweet World" - walking candy bars are your main enemy
"Music World" - with its bow shooting violins
"Tool World" - watch out for those smashing hammers
"Fruit World" - with its exploding radishes
"Shoot 'em up World"
"Fun Fair World"
All these worlds are divided into 3 sub-levels, with the final level - keeping with platformer tradition - the boss creature!
So how can you defend yourself against all this mayhem. Well, the easiest way is the use your plasma gun. Just shoot the enemy of screen. You could also jump on their head. But the most effective way is to use Zool's sword. All you have to do is jump and press the fire button and Zool is turned into a whirlwind, destroying everything in its path! A real "Sonic" touch!
If you get hit, you lose one of three life points. But don't worry, when you destroy a baddie, they usually leave a flying heart behind! Catch this for more power! What I didn't like was the fact that the enemy always returned on the same place...So if you killed of all the baddies in a screen and would then go on to the next, they would all be back when you returned to the last screen! Very annoying...
It's your job to collect as many Z tokens as possible, once you've found them all, the portal to the next level will open. But beware, there is a time limit...And time flies! There are also some bonus powers for you to collect like an extra life, higher jumps and a Zool mimic, who helps you on your quest. This is a really cool feature! Finally there are the usual hidden rooms and bonus levels! One of those is a real shoot 'em up in the style of R-type. You'll have to do a lot of searching to find them all!
Controls are great, once you get past Zool's problem of sliding. This can be frustrating! You can jump in every direction, it's also possible to climb walls or hang on wires. And everything runs silky smooth and reacts great to the joystick! There are 3 levels of difficulty to choose from. You can even set up the game speed. There is a "normal" and a "fast" mode! Keep in mind that "normal" is already pretty fast :-)
So, is "Zool" a "Sonic" beater? Definitely NOT! If you want to play "Sonic", you have to buy a Sega (or download an emulator). "Zool" is a great game, but not as good as "Sonic" IMO. But that doesn't change the fact that it is one of the best, most colorful and fastest platformers for your ST! I prefer "Fire and Ice", but if you're looking for fast action, "Zool" is your game!
- Graphics: 9
- Sound: 7
- Gameplay: 9
- Overall: 8
Zool...The Ninja of the Nth Dimension! Whatever that is supposed to mean...
The worlds Zool has to travel are all very colorful!
Slide of these hills of cream...yummy!
The first boss! Doesn't this cute sugar bee look scary?
The second world! Watch out for flying CDs, shooting violins and other musical mayhem!
These notes lift you sky high!
Try to keep your balance, young ninja warrior! Oh, and these speakers are not what they seem to be...
The end of my adventure...Let's try again!
Some real nice animation can be found in this game...
If you don't like the music in Zool, well, play your on tunes on this keyboard! :-)
The bonus round of the first world, giving the game a totally new dimension!