"It was a book to kill time for those who liked it better dead."
ST SOFTWARE REVIEW: ZOOL BY GREMLIN GRAPHICS
- or -
A POKE IN THE EYE AND A KNEE IN THE GROIN TO ALL THOSE WHO SAID
IT WASN'T POSSIBLE ON THE ST
by Michael Noyce
Sorry if the following introduction seems a little bitter and
confrontational. At the time of writing, I was particlarly hacked
off with the state of the ST games industry, and Atari in general,
because of arrogant and ignorant PunchCard and Ameoba machine
owners at College giving me a hard time! Actually, I'm *not*
sorry at all!! Nuff said...
It's finally happened (well it's happened before, but so what,
I'm trying to make a point here!), someone actually tried to
convert a game to the ST. It's just a shame they didn't try a
year or so ago before writing the ST off as incapable. I am of
course talking about "Zool - Ninja of the "Nth" Dimension" much
praised "Sonic" look-alike which is now available on the ST.
About time too!
While out on a routine reconnaissance mission in the "Nth"
dimension, doing what ever Ninjas do, our hero's ship's scanners
picked up a strange pulsating cloud formation. Zool's highly
trained Ninja senses (and a complete lack of knowing when to run
away) compelled him to investigate this phenomenon further.
Suddenly the ship was drawn into a vortex and crash-landed
straight into a custard lake. Having quickly abandoned his
sinking ship, Zool found himself on a world made entirely of
sweets (heaven!). His trusty computer informs him that Krool's
forces have overtaken this world and five others. His mission is
to destroy Krool's armies and return. Ha, nothing to it!
Shortly after booting, a Gremlin logo appears, which fades out
and is replaced with the sponsor's (i.e. Chupa Chups) logos, which
is in turn replaced with the title screen that simply says 'Zool'.
Next, is the protection screen. This basically involves matching
the picture of Zool shown with one on the wheel and entering the
code for a given number. Simple but effective. If you enter a
valid code within three attempts, loading continues.
If you only have one drive you're asked to insert disk two and
press fire. A nice touch here is that if you have a second drive
attached and have inserted disk two into that already, then this
will automatically be detected and loading will continue from
After a (short) while the Zool Screen appears which has Zool
running across it doing some acrobatics. If you leave the game
alone (i.e. don't press any keys or buttons) then you get a
credits screen followed by the high-scores. Pressing fire starts
the game; space bar goes to the Main Options Screen.
By using the joystick, you can alter a number of options that
affect the game. 'Level' changes the number of bonuses you have
to collect in order to complete the level and how much time you
have to do it in. On Easy you have to collect 25% of the bonuses,
50% on Normal and 75% on Hard. 'Music' lets you select either
sound FX or one of four tunes: Rock, Green(?), Rave (Ugh!!) and
Funk, which are blip-blop conversions of the Amiga music.
'Intertia' allows you to decide if Zool slides to a halt or stops
immediately. Finally 'Cont' lets you set the number of continues
you get when you lose all your lives. This option should always
be set to five which is the maximum. Believe me you'll need all
of 'em. Pressing fire quits the Options Screen and returns to the
The game takes place across six very different and progressively
harder worlds: Sweet World, Music World, Fruit World, Tool World,
Toy World, and Fairground World. There are hordes of meanies such
as bumble bees, bass drums, carrots, and drills, to name but a
few, occupying each world, who have the expressed intention of
creating an ex-Zool (i.e. as dead as a deceased parrot, and no,
he's not pining!). At the end of each level is the End of Level
Beastie. These take multiple hits to kill and are total and utter
bastards! There are also hidden bonus levels on some worlds as
well, if you can find them.
Of course Zool isn't your average fluffy bunny type of Ninja. Oh
no, he's a mean ninja killing machine, and isn't about to take
this death thing lying down. By waggling the joystick in certain
directions and tapping the fire button you can make Zool run,
slide, crouch, jump, spin, fire, punch and kick. But that's not
all, because there are various power ups that give Zool temporary
abilities. These range from extra lives and time to
invincibility, smart bombs and the bizarre Twozool.
Occasionally, after killing a meanie, a little heart with wings
appears floating up the screen. Collecting this replenishes
Zool's health by one unit. Should Zool lose all his health then
he loses one of his five lives. When Zool loses all of his lives
there is a continue option to carry on from the last activated
reset point, which are dotted around each level.
Basically, you have to kill the meanies and collect enough
bonuses, which are obtained by killing meanies and collecting the
items they drop or by running over the items littered throughout
the level, to advance to the next level within the time limit.
Each world has its own unique set of graphics which are large and
colourful, helping to give the games a more varied and interesting
appearance. Everything moves about fast and smoothly (see below)
as you frantically dash around the level.
ST versus STE
Eh...what's this then? STE enhancements! Yes indeed. All those
lucky STE owners, me included, have more colours in the graded
background and smoother 50 frames a second hardware scrolling. In
fact everything seems to move around quicker. I guess this could
also be the result of the Blitter chip, so those STFM's with one
fitted might also benefit, though I didn't have access to a
Blitter endowed STFM to verify this.
There is a slight slow down when there's a lot moving on the
screen at once, but after a while you don't really notice it,
especially during the heat of battle.
Well, Was it worth it? How does it compare to other versions?
Should you rush out and buy it? The answers to these questions
are simple. Yes, very well, and go hence forth and purchase this
superb game *NOW*!!!
Seriously though, Gremlin has done a great job. "Zool" is almost
faultless. It's fast, colourful, challenging and disgustingly
playable. Be assured that despite the jerkier scrolling, the STFM
version is still an absolutely corking game.
However, I did say almost faultless. I have just two major moans
about this game. Firstly, a password system would've increased
its long term appeal greatly - as this would've avoided the
necessity to play from the beginning each time you start a new
game, which can start to get a bit boring after a while.
Secondly, I would've liked it to have been hard drive installable
as on some of the other versions.
A pity also, that after using the STE video hardware so
effectively, they didn't put the sound hardware to good use, if
only for sound FX.
Company: Gremlin Graphics
Value for money: 9
Manifest: 2 single-sided disks, 17 page
multi-lingual manual, code
wheel, and poster.
Hardware: 0.5Mb ST/STE, single-sided
drive, joystick, colour
Comment: Simply the best platform game
ever! At least until "ZOOL 2"
comes out (hopefully!). It
just goes to show what can be
done with a little time, effort
Address: Carver House
2-4 Carver Street
Sheffield S1 4FS
Note: Unreserved thanks must go to Mary Ann Bart who very kindly
proof read this article, and Mrs P.Cross who very kindly gave up
her STFM one evening so I could test "Zool" on it.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.