Zool 2

Atari Jaguar

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


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


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


   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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