This was not an opinion shared by all my Twitter followers. “Zool is Sh*te” wrote one. “I thought my copy was broken as it was that awkward to play” wrote another. Amongst the negative bombardment however was glowing praise. “’Zool’ is possibly one of my favourite games ever”, “I loved that game, it was amazing back in the day”.
Each level is quite large and the game has dozens spread over words. As is the tradition with platform games each world is based on a different theme, and each is interwoven into the gameplay in intelligent ways. Music World for example, has trumpets that propel you upwards, record player treadmills and piano platforms that make different sounds as you traverse the keys. Tool World sees drill bits moving through platforms as serrated edges make leaping across floating platforms harder, while Toy World has a working ‘etcha-sketch’.
Not all ideas work though. With speed being so integral to the game anything that slows you down suddenly has a huge impact on the player’s enjoyment. Sticky treacle lakes in Sweet World for example can’t be jumped from so should you land in one you’ll have a slow trudge to get to the end of a platform. Equally frustrating are vertical climbs up spike covered walls, which are a pain due to the poor collision detection. Each world is ended with a confrontation with a boss, which are as imaginative as the enemies seen in the likes of ‘Parodius’ or ‘Robocod’.
The method of defeating them though isn’t as creative as their design. Unlike taking on a Robot Master where pattern memorisation is key it’s simply a case of hitting the fire button as quickly as possible while running between the screen edges.
Based on the Amiga 1,200 version of the game, Snes ‘Zool’ is a colourful bright but busy affair. Each world looks distinct, and the multiple layers of parallax scrolling make it a visually very impressive game but there are times when there just too much going on onscreen. Zool as a charter may ooze embarrassing Ninties’ attitude, but at least he does it looking good though. As detailed as ‘Cool Spot’, he is well animated with “over 80 frames of animation” according to a developer interview with Amiga Action.