If you're a fan of George and Lynne, then you'll love...

Cool World logo

OCEAN * £25.99 * 1 meg * Joystick * Out now

Ocean seem loathe to develop any game that hasn't first appeared in cinematic form - Hudson Hawk, Bart vs Mutants, Terminator 2... The list goes on and on - in fact Cool World is only the first of three film licences to be released by Ocean in the coming weeks.
It isn't such a bad idea actually, this licensing business - it removes the need to come up with a plot, give it a title, and make up a few characters. Such tiresomeness has already been taken care of by the film producers, and leaves the game team with nothing to do except write a completely stoking classic based on the hard work of others.

Should be easy. But it's not - at least, not if many of the past releases of this nature have been anything to go by. Perhaps programmers see it as an easy ride, but for whatever reason, numerous film licences - not just from Ocean I hasten to add - have turned out to be not only disappointing conversions, byt plain old crap games.

Cool World is due to hit the cinemas in the early new year, and although little information has surfaced as yet, Biff tells me with a lecherous leer and through a mouthful of drool that it stars Kim Basinger.

From what we can gather, the action centres around some guy who produces a cult comic , unwittingly creating a parallel universe, thus enabling cartoon characters - Doodle - to enter the real world.
Well, all right I read it on the box, but it's a pretty safe assumption that the game closely follows the plot of the film so that makes it OK, doesn't it? These Doodles are making the quantum leap from comic-strip immortality through to the real world, by means of spooky-looking vortexes that have cropped all over the place.

The Doodles aren't quite as daft as they first appear though. It turns out that they don't have any wish to actually exchange their safe and easy lives in Cool World for the forbidding recession-ridden melancholic monotony that is the real world (having another bad day Paul? - Ed), but simply want to "borrow" certain items from our dimension to make their own lives more comfortable.

Nothing wrong with that. Share and share alike, I was always told. But hold on! All this parallelic universal to-ing and fro-ing is upsetting the cosmic balance. If too many items are taken from our dimension, it's not entirely out of the question that the whole world will simply explode.

Ignoring the obvious solution of asking the Doodles politely not to blag anything else, Deebs enlists the help of Harris the Policeman to counter the imbalance. You are Harris the Policeman, and this is where the game begins.

The idea is to beat the dastardly Doodles at their own game by using the same vortexes to travel through the worlds, returning purloined items to their rightful place. Beginning the streets of Cool World, you must first collect enough coins to bribe your way through the actual level.

You are armed only with a Handy Pen, which is used both to "shoot" the Doodles and to suck them in. For those of you who think this all sounds a bit dubious, let me explain.

The whole point of the exercise is to prevent items from finding their way into the Cool World. Obviously, the more Doodles make the crossover, the more objects they can take.
Shooting the Doodles with your pen turns them into big inky blobs, which can then either be shot once more for extra points, or "sucked in" in a Ghostbuster-type fashion by keeping the Fire-button depressed.
When shot, it's only a matter of time before the little beasts become re-animated, whereas sucking the buggers in disposes them for good.

To complete a level you must prevent too many items making the cross-dimensional leap for a specified period of time, which shortens as you progress.

My instant reaction to Cool World was one of disappointment. After the excellent animated sequence at the beginning, the graphics - while colourful - seemed rather flat. The gameplay was rather repetitive and I quickly gave up. On returning to the game later in the afternoon though, I became quite involved, and dare I say it, addicted to saving the universe form its impending oblivion.

More varied levels are definitely needed if the game is to reach anything close to classic status, and beefed up graphics - especially in the confrontation department - would have made for a more compelling game.

As it is, Cool World follows in the tradition of many previous Ocean games, in that it is a competent and enjoyable arcade platform adventure - but come on Ocean, surprise us!

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It's Christmas, and as always, that means mega-buck film licences for Ocean. Although many people believe the licenced game is a recipe for unoriginal gameplay, it ain't necessarily so - as Batman and Robocop have proven. So what's this year's top prospect?

The film Cool World is about a cartoonist who creates a place called Cool World in a cartoon strip. But, shock horror, the artist's creations seem to possess a life of their own, and try to escape from the page into the real world, causing 90 minutes of mayhem and frolics.

The sub-plot is the love interest, which is mainly concerned with the fact that the artist's prime creation is a rather sexy-looking lass called Holli. She bears an uncanny resemblance to Kim 'Batman' Bassinger, and she also possesses a life of her own. And, predicatively, she and the artist fall in lurv, making the mayhem and frolics altogether more, well, unbelievable, really.

So, enough of the Barry Normanisms, what's the Ocean computer game version like? The two-disk game starts off with a classy sampled intro featuring (presumably) music from the film. This is combined with a cartoon-style animation of the young lady Basinger, gyrating and swirling around in time to the music.
Raunchy? Perhaps so, but let's not get too worked up about cartoon graphics, they are, after all, not real. But worried parents need fear not their children's safety: there are no nipples, hairy bits or otherwise embarrassing body parts that you wouldn't see in a suburban high-street. Probably.

The Holli and the ink
A click on the fire-button sends our lustful cartoon figure into oblivion and replaces her with the game proper. This is the first anti-climax. Gone are the full-screen Dragon's Lair-style graphics, and we're returned to the more normal scrolling platform style. You take control of a private detective (I steadfastly refuse to call him a private 'dick' like they do in standard Hollywood-speak - it's asking for trouble) called Harris.

Armed with a fountain pen (what?), you roam the streets laying waste to the cartoon characters (known as doodles) and collecting coins. You use these coins to enter the various levels by way of talking doors (you still with me? It gets worse).

You see, the doors are themselves cartoon creations, and you need to bribe them into letting you into the cartoons domain, Cool World. There's an overlay map which you can call up, and this shows you which of the doors will accept a bribe and let you in. All you have to do is get there, with enough money.

Christmas licences haven't really changed much

This part of the game is probably the most tedious. You trundle along from location to location, travelling from side to side on an unconvincing street-scene graphic, with occasional exits through alleys above and below. It's all very repetitive, despite the odd bit of scenery in the form of flashing neon signs or manhole covers (which curiously, you can't seem to walk over the top of properly).

The doors all say the same thing when you attempt to pass them, and the two types of doodle do the same things each time they appear. The only difference is when they all do it at once: the screen can slow down to a juddering crawl when there are lots of sprites on screen - something I've not seen since C64 days.

The hole in the wall gang
Once you've made it past a door, you're into Cool World, and you get to play a more conventional platforms-and-ladders game. You nip about the strange scenery, zapping doodles with your pen, and then sucking them back up through the nib. Your aim is to stop them passing through vortexes, big holes, which act as tunnels between Cool World and the real world. If the doodles make it through to the other side, you're in trouble. They run around stealing all kinds of household objects and throwing them back through the vortexes into Cool World. This upsets the cosmic balance and endangers your existence.

So you reach the conclusion: why not jump through the vortex, and nobble all the doodles as they come through. A good plan, and one that works despite that most levels have more than one vortex letting doodles through. You can zip around in the real world and get to the doodles before they get to the household objects. Conversely, if you stay in Cool World, chucking the objects back through the vortexes, the doodles just wait on the other side and throw them back again, which gets you nowhere fast.

I you can prop up the cosmic balance for long enough, the level is completed and you get dumped back in the street again, ready to repeat the whole thing in a different location. And this is the other annoying thing about Cool World: because it's basically a maintenance game (rather than a shoot-em-all-up=and-then-deal-with-a-big-daddy-game) it's all rather tedious.

There's no feeling that you've done something. All you've done is 'managed' and that's nothing special. When you consider you've got to 'manage' your way through 16 levels before you finally get to meet the Evil Holli (our Kim Bassenger penpal) and blow her away, it's not too hot a prospect.

I can think of worse ways to spend your Christmas morning, like helping mum with the turkey (i.e. dad), visiting the neighbours you never see for the rest of the year and being polite, or being given nothing but socks and ties by your granny.

If I found Cool World in my stocking in the middle of Crimble night after the parents had gone to bed (not that's got anything to do with it, kids - dear ole Father C does exist, honest), I'd be bored with it by morning. It's good fun, but in a kind of soul-stretching, how-long-can-i-really-play-this-for-without-going-mad kind of way. Looks like Christmas licences haven't really changed that much at all, doesn't it?

Der Doppel-Flop

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In Deutschland blieb uns die Filmvorlage bislang erspart - selten zeigte sich Kim Basinger von einer derart uncoolen Seite wie in diesem krusen Mix aus Zeichentrick und Realfilm. Mit der Umsetzung haben wir leider nicht so viel Glück...

Dafür sorgt wieder mal Oceans ungebremster Lizenz-Drang. Dabei hat die Story schon im Kino keiner kapiert: Da gibt es eine Parallelwelt voller Comicfiguren, die Cool World. Die dort lebenden Doodles mopsen alle möglichen Gegenstände aus unserer Realität, was zu einer Störung des kosmischen Gleichgewichts führt.

Sexy Kim hat zwar im Streifen noch ganz anderes im Sinn, ihr Auftritt am Monitor beschränkt sich jedoch quasi auf die Loadingscreen. Schlau von ihr, mit dem was folgt, nicht viel zu tun haben zu wollen.

Im Spiel selbst soll nämlich der Polizist Harris die kosmische Ordnung wiederherstellen, indem er das Diebesgut mit einem "Handy Pen" (so 'ne Art Staubsauger) aufsaugt und zurück Richtung Erde schickt. Das findet auf horizontal nach links und rechts scrollenden Straßen statt, wobei sich im Vorder- und Hintergrund Zugänge zu weiteren Wegen befinden.

Weil Harris den Handy Pen aber erstmal finden muß, ist er am Anfang der insgesamt 16 Level nur damit beschäftigt, langweilige Gegner umzupusten, die langweilige Münzen hinterlassen, mit denen sich langweilige Levelausgangs-Wächter bestechen lassen. Kommt Euch das vielleicht ein bißchen langweilig vor? Bingo!

Passend dazu gibt es langweilige Grafik im Stil der "Simpsons", die mit Farben knausert, aber immerhin ganz brauchbar animiert ist. Musik und Soundeffekte sind akzeptabel, und die Steuerung ist sogar recht ordentlich - doch beim Gameplay ist das Verfalldatum längst abgelaufen. (C. Borgmeier)

Cool World logo

It is a funny old world, especially when it is populated by cartoon characters from a cult comic.

There is no way to tell what the film Cool World is like because it is not out yet. The only thing I can say is that I quite fancy the cartoon representation of a woman on the poster (her name is Holli - sigh), which has me, and my psychiatrist, more than slightly worried, especially as I was just getting over my crush on Jessica Rabbit.

That aside (ahem), let us look at the game plot. This guy, Jack Deebs, has been writing this groovy underground comic called Cool World and in the process he has unwittingly created an alternative universe. This universe is peopled (or charactered, anyway) by doodles, who are the stars of the comic, and they are intent on transferring objects from the real world to Cool World by jumping through vortices between the two. All this would be fine if it were not for the fact that as a direct result the universe is going to destruct. You play Harris the Policeman, and it is up to you to save the universe from this unusual threat. It all looks fantastic potential for a great game.

A mildly entertaining game, but not a complete stormer

Ah, the game. It was looking good on the fantastic intro sequence, and my heart ached as the current object of my desire danced on the screen in front of me, and somebody else had to push the fire button to get me on to the game itself. And then... oh dear.

You are on this horizontally scrolling level, which could hardly be called platform as there are only two dimensions to it, shooting purple gorillas and Bart Simpson look-alikes armed only with a handy pen. I cannot believe it, it looks like a Spectrum game.

I was cursing and preparing myself for a 29% job, when it got better. It turns out that was just the start, where you are travelling the Cool World streets collecting coins in order to bribe your way into the other levels.

And the other levels are an improvement. This is a platform game after all, but with the added twist that you have got two levels at once - the real world scenario and the Cool World scenario - and you skip between the two using the vortexes.

You have to shoot the doodles, which turns them into ink bubbles, and then suck them back into your pen to completely destroy them. In the Cool World you have to pick up real world objects and send them back where they belong. You get an indication of how many doodles are in the real world and how many objects are in the Cool World, so you are constantly skipping about between the two to keep the balance in check. When the danger reaches critical level you lose a life and you have to keep the balance during the time limit to go to the next level.

And that is it really. It is fairly engrossing for a while, as you battle with time and are forced to jump arund a lot between the two worlds. This makes for a mildly entertaining game, and bumps the rating up by 30% from my initial disappointment, but it is not a complete stormer by any means.

The control of the character is very crude and feels clumsy at times. The backgrounds look good, but not stunning, and it is really an average platform game that is raised slightly above average by the time limit and two-levels-in-one scenario. I was left with the impressions that a lot more could be done with such an interesting plot. But never mind, eh? There is always the title sequence...