from AEO Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 1
||| Zool 2 ||| By: Tim Steed / | \ GEnie: T.STEED1 AOL: OTR TimS ---------------------------------------------------------------- The Nth Dimension is under attack, and it's up to you to save it from the invading forces of Krool! Krool has sent his evil, morphing henchman, Mental Block, to seize power. Only you, playing as either Zool, master ninja, or his lovely and daring sidekick Zooz, can prevent the ultimate destruction. Along the way, you may even receive help from Zoon, the intergalactic wonder-dog. But in the end, the continued existence of the Nth Dimension rests upon YOUR shoulders. As the manual to this game states, "Hold on to your senses, and set your controls on Maximum Weirdness. Strange things are going on!" =-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Overview =-=-=-=-=-=-= A lot of Jaguar owners have been waiting patiently for a good platform-game. They look at Sonic on the Genesis, Mario and Donkey Kong Country on the SNES, and they say, "Hey, I'd like one of those!". Well, here you have it. Along with Bubsy, another recent Jaguar release, Zool 2 helps to fill the platform-game void for the Jag, at least until Rayman comes out. The theory remains the same: collect a bunch of items by moving over them, avoid/kill bad guys, and make it to the end of the level as quickly as possible. =-=-=-=-=-=-= //// The Game =-=-=-=-=-=-= The game loads up with a nice full-screen animation of Zool. After a few seconds, it goes to the title screen. If you wait even a few more seconds, the game kicks into demo-mode. High scores are flashed next, title screen, demo-mode, etc. The demo-mode might be worth watching, as you get glimpses of later levels in the game. Pressing "Option" brings up the options screen (surprise!). You can turn "Inertia" on or off. Inertia effects your character's forward movement. With inertia On, your forward movement continues for a few inches even after you stop pressing forward on the joypad. With inertia Off, you character stops immediately after releasing the joypad. Next on the options screen is difficulty setting. This can be set to easy, normal, or hard. With easy, you get eight lives, and must collect most of the items on each level. With normal, you get six lives, plus you must collect all items on each level, plus some that are hidden! On hard, you get only four lives, must collect all items on each level, plus some hidden ones, and you must also kill a lot of bad guys. Whew! After difficulty, you can set number of players, one or two. It is possible to play two players with a single joypad, also, with each player swapping off when it's their turn. Lastly, there is a Configure option, where you can set which buttons are used to Fire, Jump, and use special items. Set these however you wish with the usual A, B and C buttons. After all options are selected, you then press start to begin play. A large screen confronts you, asking you which character you wish to play, Zool or Zooz. This is important, as each of them has their own special move. Play then begins, and you are confronted with bad guys right from the outset. The controls take a little getting used to, but they're not any more complicated than other platform games on other systems. Pressing Up on the dpad lets you climb walls or jump vertically (as does the A button), Up/Right or Up/Left lets you jump to the right or left, Right or Left runs to the right or left, Down/Right and Down/Left lets you slide right or left, and Down lets you crouch or climb down walls. The B button is the fire button (with default settings). Pressing B fires bullets in whatever direction you are facing. Holding down the B button and running into a wall initiates a height-scaling backflip, which propells you higher into the air than a normal jump. When hanging on a column, holding down the B button will let you crawl left or right. As I mentioned earlier, Zool and Zooz have their own move. While in mid-air, pressing the B button initiates a spinning power-jump. This jump is used to break through false ceilings (Zool) or false floors (Zooz). Along with these moves comes the standard in-game options. Pressing pause will pause the game, and while paused you can use the A button to change music volume, or the B button to change FX volume. The main playing screen is laid out simply and effectively. In the upper left hand corner you have your score. To the right of your score is your current health indicator, shown with red ovals. Whenever you get hit by a bad guy, you lose one of these. When they are gone, you lose a life. To the right of your health indicator is the high score. Moving to the bottom left corner of the screen, you have an indicator showing you how many items you have picked up. This can be misleading at first, as each item you pick up may not count as a "full" item, meaning you will have to pick up more than one item to move the indicator up a full point. In the lower middle section of the screen you have the time remaining on the current level you are playing. The LI in the lower right hand corner represents how many lives you have left, depending on what difficulty level you started the game with. During the game, you can find various power-ups. Some of the various items you can find are:  Restart Points - Small red posts that flash green when you pass them, thereby activating them. If you die after you pass one of these, you will restart the level from the last one of these that you activated.  Bonus Hearts - After you defeat certain enemies, little red hearts with wings will begin floating up to the ceiling. Grabbing one of these before it gets out of reach restores health by one point.  Bomb - This device follows you until you decide to use it. Pressing C ignites it, killing all visible enemies on the screen.  Twozool - Splits up your ninja for double the action.  Shield - makes your character invincible for a short time.  Time Bonus - adds precious seconds back onto your time-clock.  One-Up - Pretty self-explanatory, a free, additional life!  Super Shot - Press C after picking this baby up, and you launch a swirling missile of destruction that will take care of the most ferocious opponents.  Chupa Chups - Restores your ninja to full health!  Zoon - Collect three of these, and when you finish your current level, you'll access a bonus level that Zoon the wonderdog will help you with! =-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Graphics =-=-=-=-=-=-= Though the foregrounds are quite colorful and sharp, the backgrounds should have been done by the folks who did Kasumi Ninja. The backgrounds really remind me of some Atari 2600 games I used to play, mostly only three colors and very dull. Still, you don't play the game IN the background, right? Objects in the foreground are colorful and quite clear, even with a normal TV hook-up. A lot of objects are shaded, giving a subtle 3-D effect, with lots of little areas that seem to reflect light. Zool and Zooz themselves are quite nice, with details like eyes and glints of light on their heads and shoes clearly visible. Movements are standard fare, nothing real spectacular. When either ninja shoots, a small, white dot races off towards the target. The speed of your characters is amazingly fast. I didn't realize how fast this game moved until my wife loaded up her old favorite, Sonic. Sonic seemed to be moving through molasses after playing Zool for awhile! Even with lots of moving objects on-screen, I noticed no appreciable slow-down. (Though I've heard some players have noticed some.) Trust me, there's ALWAYS lots of moving objects on-screen! Control is excellent, very precise and responsive, especially with Inertia turned off. You need it, though, as even on "Easy," there are lots of bad guys to shoot, dodge, and run away from. High reflexes are a must with this game. =-=-=-=-=-= //// Sound =-=-=-=-=-= The initial boot-up music is pretty cool, and definitely a bit on the wacky side. My wife called it "cute," and it's the kind of music that makes you want to laugh. Music during game-play is good, but nothing earth-shattering. A fast-paced tune helps you on your way, which is catchy and feels appropriate for the task at hand. (Travis says he feels Zool's music gives it an edge over Bubsy, but you know the odd things he comes up with.... :) Sound effects are above average. When a bad guy hits you, you hear a sound like a spoon hitting a frying pan. Other sound effects are quite good, too, like when you jump and power-spin, you hear a "whooshing" noise, and when you do the ninja backflip, you hear a high-pitched ninja shout. Pretty much anything you do is accompanied by some sort of sound-effect. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Conclusion =-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Zool 2 is a fun, challenging type of game for people who really like the platform-game genre. Fast-paced action, and lots of bad-guys makes this one of THE most challenging platformers I have ever played. Even on Easy setting, I wondered if they had by chance gotten Easy and Hard mixed up during programming! :) Overall, if you LOVE platform-type games, definitely give this one a try. Zool 2 is a good candidate to hold us over until some stunning platformers arrive in the future (like Rayman!). Also, if you have played and liked Bubsy for the Jaguar, and thought he was too slow or easy, give this one a try. Zool's NOT slow! And Zool's NOT easy! However, if you HATE Sonic, Mario, and games like them, stay away from this one altogether. There are more games that are available which will appeal to you. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Final Ratings =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Title: Zool 2 JagNet: No Design: Gremlin Players: 1 - 2 Published by: Atari Corp. Available: Now Price: $59.95 Age Rating: K-A (Kids to Adult, 6+) Here's the Summary ratings: "*" is a whole "+" is a half 5 stars maximum Control : ****+ A very small learning curve, but once you are past that, it's smooth sailing. Fast. Responsive. Configurable, too! Gameplay : *** Everything you'd want in a platform game, maybe a bit too fast and difficult for younger folk, but since I ain't young, mabye not. :) Graphics : *** They are good, but not ground-breaking. Nice foreground visuals, very plain and generic backgrounds. Sound : *** Sound FX are slightly above average, with the music being catchy and atmospheric for a platform game. Overall : ***+ A decent platformer which compares quite nicely to Sonic, Mario or other games of their ilk. If you only want something that will stun you, though, better to wait for Rayman. Pts Stars AEO Ratings """ """"" """"""""""" 10 ***** GAMING NIRVANA!!! - You have left reality behind... for good. 9 ****+ Unbelieveable GAME!! - Your family notices you're often absent. 8 **** Fantastic Game!! - You can't get enough playtime in on this. 7 ***+ Great Game! - Something to show off to friends or 3DOers. 6 *** Good game - You find yourself playing this from time to time. 5 **+ Ho-hum - If there's nothing else to do, you play this. 4 ** Waste of time - Better to play this than play in traffic. 3 *+ Sucks - Playing in traffic sounds like more fun. 2 * Sucks Badly - You'd rather face an IRS audit than play this. 1 + Forget it - ... but you can't; it's so badly done, it haunts you. 0 - Burn it - Disallow programmer from ever writing games again.
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