Zool 2 – Review

(More old ST Review stuff)

If you like platform games, they don’t come much bigger and brighter than Zool 2. Iain Laskey looks at the Jaguar version of this award winning game.

Zool 2 has been released on just about every machine around and has now arrived on the  Atari Jaguar. This version has been enhanced and claims to be the fastest, most colourful version of all.

Body: When the game first starts there is a nice ray-traced intro sequence of Zool before the main screen appears. You can play as either Zool or his female sidekick Zooz. The options screen lets you choose the difficulty level, whether inertia is active and the number of players. When in two player mode, you can use one or two controllers.

The gameplay is certainly fast. Unfortunately it’s also very repetitive. Each of the seven levels involves avoiding or shooting the enemies and collecting the various items that are liberally littered around the game. There are the obligatory power-ups to be collected including bombs, a second ninja and shields. If you can collect 3 Zoon tokens, you get to play a special bonus level.

Each level has its own flavour with different sprites and backgrounds although the basic game is identical in each case. The first level is fairly straightforward and the graphics, especially the backgrounds are rather lacklustre. The later levels are generally nicer looking though and provide more of a challange. It’s not always obvious how to go about completing them and often some split second timing is required to navigate your ninja around. The Bulberry Hill level has tubes that accelerate your ninja upwards with a wild spinning rather reminicscent of Sonic games. There are also fried eggs and trampolines to jump on to get the height needed to reach some parts of each level.

The controls are easy to get to grips with. Only the A, B and C buttons are used along with the joypad. It makes a nice change from having to remember a set of commands resembling War and Peace although there are a few special moves including ‘power-jumps’

Graphically Zool is easily as good as any 16bit console but not much better. There is no slowdown even when the action gets furious and the parallax scrolling works well enough. There is the odd pleasing detail such as the eyes on the huge Egyptian death masks following you around. The colours are bright and breezy but overall, the game looks like it’s aimed at the younger audience rather than the more discerning gamer.

The sound is certainly never far from your thoughts when you play. The tunes are worryingly catchy and all kinds of weird and wonderful sounds play as your ninja dashes about shooting and collecting. It sounds like the sort of game Jeff Minter would have written.

A real let down is that you cannot save your current position. High scores are saved along with SFX and music levels though.

At best Zool 2 is competent. It’s well programmed but the game itself is unexceptional. The Jaguar sorely needs a killer platform game to rival the Sonics and Marios of the world. Unfortunately, this isn’t it. Hopefully, Ubisoft’s new game, Rayman will be the Jaguar platformer that others will be looking up to.

If you have a burning need for a platform game, then Zool 2 is worth a look but play it first before you buy.

Product Name:    Zool 2
Publisher:    Atari.
Telephone:    01753 xxxxxx
RRP:        £39.99

Pros:        Fast and frantic action. Big bright levels. Cheaper than most.
Cons:          Can get repetitious. No game save.
Score         5