Stuff Sonic

Zool 1 logo

Gremlin * £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

This game is going to go down in history as one of the greatest of all time. It is absolutely fantastic in every respect - graphics, sound, everything. This could be a record - Ben getting through a game review without absolutely hacking the poor thing to bits!

I do not know where to start! Near the beginning would probably be a option, so sit comfortably and I will begin.

It is a sort of platformy thing but not, and it is a sort of collect a lot thingy, but not really. The closest thing it is Sonic the Spikey Haired Git of a Hedgehog, but this knocks the socks off Sonic.

The whole thing is completely manic from beginning to end. When you boot up the game there are various sequences going on in the background and a soundtrack that is similar to, well nothing apart from Mr Bungle or Frank Zappa.

There is everything flying round the screen leaving you completely baffled as what is going on, and it is wonderful.

The bit that really impressed me was the Options menu. You can change the difficulty level which makes it harder for the nasties on-screen to bump you off.

Next there is the music selector. I am one of a dying breed - a person who likes funk music. What did I happen to find on the selector? A funk track. At first I was a bit dubious, but then I actually heard it and it was proper funk music which really made my day.

Along with the funk music are rock and rave settings and something called Green Bizarre. Then you have an Inertia setting so old Zool does not go from standing still to 100mph instantly, and a Continue option.

My god this is serious, I have not even got to the game yet and I am already raving. Let us scuttle along, children, in a crab-like fashion.

As you see from the screenshots, our matey Zool is an odd looking character, a bit like an ant I though, but an agile little chappie anyway.

The various levels all have themes. The first level's theme is sweets, with all the beasties look like dolly mixtures of fruit gums and all the backgrounds being jellies or lollies. The end-of-level baddie steals the show - a mishmash of all manner of sweets that spits liquid at our hero.

The baddies do all sorts of things to try and stop you on your way, but Zool is armed and dangerous and a ninja from the Nth dimension (which is just near Bob's Discount Bean Bag Emporium, if you must know). To get around the levels a lot of time you have to go up cliffs. You can't actually climb them but you can sort of jump off and up and back on again - quite cunning really

Apart from the climbing there is not much to your movement on the screen but for jumping and running. The aim is to reach the end of each level by simply piling through all the nasties.

Unlike Sonic you do not always progress in the same direction. In the bottom left-hand corner there is a pointer which tells you which direction to go in. At the end of each level there is the customary baddie, which does take a little doing.

To bump off all the beasties you have bullets of a sort and a sword. But old Zool can only use his sword while flying through the air, spinning. It sounds like a bit of a handicap, but it is frightfully effective when wasting wine gums.

To help you along the way there are a few power-ups which you can get get, like shields and so on. My favourite is the yin-yang which creates another Zool who follows you around. He fires at the same time you do and basically does the bizz.

I stumbled across a bonus level which is a shoot-'em-up sort of thing where you can pick up extra energy and things. I kept getting chased afterwards by these clouds - it gave me quite a funny turn, y'know. It reminded me of Project X a bit which is another of my fave games.

There are some really nice touches - for instance, on the second level (the music level) there are notes which come out of the saxophone and which you can ride on. There is also a big piano to walk along. It is this sort of detail that makes the game so special.

My one and only niggle about Zool is the difficulty. It is a very tricky game, but this is combated by the Continue function - vital to your progression through the levels.

As I said earlier, Zool will be around for a long time. It is one of the most original games I have seen on the Amiga. If you buy a game this week, buy Zool - you won't regret it.

Zool 1 logo

For an age now the Amiga world has been alight with tales of Gremlin's new Sonic-beater. Now it's here, can it outgun the blue bomber? We put it to the test...

You may have heard about Zool, you may even have read reviews of it in other magazines. But you're not stupid enough to believe everything you read, are you? The truth of the matter is, Zool was finished four days before Amiga Format was due to be printed. Now normally, that late in our schedule it's too late to change anything, but we were so impressed with Zool that we had a quick reshuffle of our pages and shoehorned it into this already packed issue. So remember kiddies, this is the latest, greatest and the most up-to-date review of Zool you'll ever read. In fact, it's the first review of the finished game ever to see print.

Expensive PD Demo?
You know as well as I do that £25.99 is a lot of money to pay for a game. You wouldn't buy a record just on the strength of the sleeve (unless it was a Madonna disc maybe), so why buy a game on the strength of the screenshots? So let's play it shall we?

Well, the intro's good. I like this, a funky fresh soundtrack and some ultrafast scrolly visuals, this is as good as a PD demo, and only costs about 20 times as much. Now I'm getting a message, what does it say? 'Prepare Yourself', OK, if you say so, but what for, what do I need? Some string? A ten pence piece in case I need to make a phone call? Ah! A joystick and a comfy chair will see me right. Let's press fire...

This is the game that makes Sonic and Mario look like the sad creations of teams of deluded child psychologists that they are

Like, totally intense dude!
Whoa! The first thing you realise is that it's psychedelically intense, man, and stupendously bright. Now I understand what the 'Prepare Yourself' stuff was all about. First thing, install a pair of shades. That's better. Oakley's in place and I can bear to look at the screen without squinting. We are talking the most outrageously colourful graphics to ever be seen on the screen, and that includes any screen, SNES and Megadrive included.

So! This Zool dude, who is he anyway? It says here that he's a 'Ninja of the Nth Dimension' and who I to argue? He looks like a ninja to me, he's got one of those red scarfs tied over his eyes and everything. And he can do all those mystical ninja tricks, he considers the Tumo Heat, says a few mantras and ngags and the next thing you know he's leaping all over the place kicking and punching and shouting Hai!

And boy is he fast. Oh! You don't know do you, 'cos you haven't seen him yet. Well, let me tell you, he is fast. There's all this talk about Zool being Gremlin's sonic beater. Well he's not quite that fast, but he is very fast. Makes Mario look like he's on Mogodon, that's for sure. He looks good too, his arms and legs are a bit skinny, but I'm sure that just helps him to move quicker. I mean, you don't see many fat ninjas running around do you? They'd be sumos instead.

Zool's got to fight his way across seven worlds of fiendish foes, all of them things that you'd never expect to have an evil side. He begins by fighting sweets, yes sweets, or candy for those of you who've been watching too much American TV. As he runs across a world of chocolate smartie cake and jelly, Zool has to fight off Jelly Lumps and Chocolate Spikes. By ninja spinning at the top of lollipops he can release a shower of edible goodies to be collected, each of which yield 100 points.

There really isn't a lot more to it than that: you run, you jump, you kick your way through six worlds of high-speed mayhem. Sure, there's the occasional tricky bit, but we're not talking true 'put your thinking cap on' puzzles here, just bits of the game that require a less than direct approach to reach your destination.

There are areas of the Tool World that need gates activating, but by and large this is a straight-ahead, seat-of-your-pants blast. And fast is the way to play it. The game design is not so fiendish as to place perils just out of sight so when you take a flying leap into the unknown you land on a sea of spikes or fall down an abyss. The levels are so well put together that you can make the most of the game's extreme speed and smoothness.

The way to get the most from Zool is to put your brain in neutral, turn your reactions up to maximum and go for it. This is a mega-fast, mega-vast mega-blast. From the start of Sweet World to the very end of the game, you can't let your attention slip for a second, the baddies keep coming, the terrain just keeps being a little trickier than you'd hoped, those slopes being a little slippier than you'd imagined and those damned baddies just keep regenerating every time you retrace your steps.

Who needs hedgehogs...
If not for the pause mode it would all be too much for a normal human to take (I mean you need a can of Coke every now and then, and you need to get rid of fluid occasionally too), but this is no territory for normal humans.

Here we are deep in the arcade zone, the land of the player hardened by years of joystick wielding. This is a game that can hold its head up and look the consoles right in the eye. Yes, this is the game that makes Sonic and Mario look like the sad creations of teams of deluded child psychologists that they are. Sonic's got the speed, Mario has the size and the gameplay, Zool's got both. And when you're bored with playing games (and it will take you an age and a half to get bored of Zool) I'd like to see you use a console to digitise some pictures or write a hit record.

Let's face it, if Sonic was being reviewed in Amiga Format it would get ooh, about 91 per cent, sure that's good, but when you compare it to Zool's massive... ah, but that would be telling. You'll have to read on to find out, so don't cheat and go looking at the bottom of the page ahead of time. The only excuse for anyone to buy a console now would be Gremlin developing Zool for the GameGear.

The game is far from faultless though, it would have been nice to see a few more puzzles, it would've been nice to be rewarded for obscure things like only collecting every fifth pick up. In short, it could have more depth. But as soon as you begin to play, any reservations you may have had evaporate in an instant. Let's face it, you just don't have time to play puzzle games when you're fighting caustic cuties at this frenetic piece.

Some people, our ex-Screenplay Editor Trenton Webb for one, criticise this type of game for not being intellectually stimulating enough, but by and large those kind of people who stay at home playing chess rather than going out hang-gliding. (I must apologise right now for implicating Trent in this vicious slur on couch potatoes, because he would be the first to jump off a tall building tied to nothing but an elastic band).

But what I am try to say is, No! This isn't an intellectually stimulating game, it's an exciting game. Possibly, no definitely the most exciting game ever seen on the Amiga, which is itself the most exciting computer ever. Which means, if I've done my sums right, that Zool is the... roll of the drums, most exciting computer game ever. Yes, there I've gone and said it. Any complaints, send them on a postcard to Amiga Power at this address, cause I really don't wanna know. This is the one brothers and sisters, the game that kicks out all the jams, the most unrelenting-computer gaming experience this side of the virtual orgasm.

Zool is nothing new
Hell, I know I should really say more about the game, but what is there to say, you've seen dozens of games like this before. You shoot at things, you punch things, you kick things, and they die. Every so often the things you punch and kick turn into goodies, and you collect the goodies and you get points, and if you finish a level in a fast time then you get points for that too, and after three levels there is a Boss, and he's big and tough and you have to kill him too. And there are power ups, and it isn't always to get from A to B, so you have to take a round-about route, and No! No! It all sounds so mundane doesn't it.

I wish I could tell you that Zool breaks the mould, banishes the tedium, redefines the cutesy platform concept, but it doesn't. It conforms in every way to what you'd expect from a perfect cutesy platform game. And in doing so it has become the perfect platform game. If I were to go on Desert Island Floppies this would have to be right there with the Smashing Pumpkins album and a copy of Breakfast of Champions as one of the things I could not live without. Oh! And a ruddy great solar cell to power my Amiga with, too.

In fact Zool is so conformist that it even goes along with the current trend of having sub games. For those new to this term a sub game is a computer game that simulates piloting an underwater military vessel (No it's not, stop being sill and get on with it - Ed).
A sub game really is another game, subsidiary to the main game, but contained within it. And Zool has two. The first is level seven, or Shoot-em-up World as Gremlin have imaginatively called it. but, rather than being an arcade action game it's a shoot-em-up.

Being level seven you might expect it to become before level eight, but there isn't a level eight. So Gremlin, being bright chaps, thought they should find somewhere else to put it. In the end they hid it, and not just in one place where you might stand a sporting chance of finding it, but all over the place. So you might be tearing along fighting murderous marbles in Toy World when you will suddenly be transported by a chrono-synclastic infundibulum to a horizontally scrolling shoot-em-up. If this happens, do not adjust your set, normal service will resume as soon as you get killed.

Melody Maker and NME
The options screen at the start of Zool lets you select the soundtrack. The musicless sound effects are excellent, and really help you tell what's going on in the game, but the other audio tracks are excellent too, you can choose from rave, rock, green and funk. The rave track is the best for an in-game soundtrack, but the best music of all is the stuff they play over the 'Get Ready' screen. And while this is playing you get a cute little metallic robot voice telling you to... get ready.

These screens also feature a subtle but witty backdrop that scrolls behind the test at an amazing rate. It isn't the intro screens that matter though. Excellent as they are, it's the game they sandwich between them that we are here to pay homage to. If you like things cute and colourful, you'll love this, and if you aren't predisposed to platform games you'll still love it. If you don't you need an analyst for your deep-seated alienation complex.

If you only buy one game this year... you aren't spending enough on computer software.

When Zool reaches the Fun Fair World, he has to scale the side of an arcade machine. After he's gone up and over the top he can clamber on to the control panel and jump on the buttons. The screen says press start (the yellow button), now you can use the white and red buttons to jump the spikes and fire at the jelly Blobs. Guess what, he's playing Zool.
Zool playing Zool
It's worth giving the scenery a good investigation, because not everything is as it seems on first impression. Standing at the bottom of this pit, you can't see the big Mint with a Hole, but after a few cyber-punches it becomes obvious that there's a hidden route afoot. The 100,000 points bonus won't go amiss either, especially when you consider that most pick-ups in Zool give a measly 100 points. But don't spend hours looking around, there's a time bonus too.
Zool finds hidden treasures
There are seven worlds that Zool must conquer, let's take a look at them.
Zool 1 world two: Music World WORLD TWO
Music World.
Sinful cymbals and dreadful drums make life a cacophony as you venture through this amplifier-strewn soundscape. Pause for a while on a giant keyboard and play a few tunes and look out for the remote control handsets, because they're your restart points.
Zool 1 world three: Fruit World WORLD THREE
Fruit World.
Crazy carrots and touchy tomatoes look to cream you in this vegetable voyage. Take great care with the grapes, if you don't polish them off they either get you, or plant themselves and send out new wine fruit to you in. Chop the carrot heads for bonus pickups.
Zool 1 world four: Tool World WORLD FOUR
Tool World.
Brutish ballbearings and wagish woodworm are out to nail you in this hardware shop from hell. Glide along the screw head slipways and greased glideways as you journey through this metallic mayhem. Watch out, it's a kind of Texas chainstore massacre.
Zool 1 world five: Toy World WORLD FIVE
Toy World.
Murderous marbles and terrorist toy tanks make this level no playtime Mind the Meccano, the ripped ends are perilously sharp. The tanks are virtually indestructable, so give them a wide birth. Make the most of the numerous restart points, you're going to need them.
Zool 1 world six: Fun Fair World WORLD SIX
Fun Fair World.
Horrific hammers and chaotic candyfloss come gunning for you in this unfairground. Don't just hang around on the bouncy castle, you've got a game to finish. But make sure you visit the amusement arcade, this is your big chance to have a game of Zool.
Zool 1 world seven: Shoot-em-up World WORLD SEVEN
Shoot-em-up World.
You can find yourself playing shoot-em-ups when you least expect it, like right in the middle of one of the other levels of Zool. This level is hidden throughout the games, and it is about as tough as horizontal scrollers come. When you get killed you go back to the main game.

Zool 1 logo

Gremlin hat sich in fernen Dimensionen umgesehen und einen drolligen kleinen Plattform-Ninja entdeckt - flugs wurde das eigenwillige Kerlchen in den Amiga-Orbit gebeamt, wo es jetzt der Konsolen-Konkurrenz das Fürchten lehren soll!

Keiner darf sagen, die Company aus Sheffield würde sich auf ihren Erfolgen ausruhen: Nachdem Gremlin zunächst die Motorsportfans mit Megahits wie "Super Cars" und "Lotus Turbo Challenge" begeisterte und dann mit "Plan 9 from Outer Space" einen intergalaktischen Großangriff auf die Lachmuskeln der Abenteurer startete, soll Zool nun die Amiga-Plattformen im Sturm erobern. Aber kann so ein Dimensions-Ninja auch gegen alteingesessene Jump & Run-Veteranen wie Nintendos Klempner oder Segas schnellen Igel bestehen?

Das erforderliche Knuddel-Potential, um gegen "Mario" und "Sonic" anzutreten, bringt Zool jedenfalls mit, denn das eigenwillige Figürchen mit der grünen Hautfarbe, dem schwarzen Dress und der roten Ninja-Maske sieht schon irgendwie entzückend aus. Zudem kann der Gute hüpfen wie ein Karpfen und klettern wie eine Gemse; er schießt schneller als John Wayne, und wo er hinhaut, hat auch ein Claude Van Damma nix mehr zu melden!

Diese und noch ein paar weitere Kunststückchen führt Zool in sieben thematisch unterschiedlichen Plattform-Welten vor, die nochmals in je drei Abschnitte unterteilt sind - nach Adam, dem Riesen, mach das insgesamt 21 abwechslungsreiche Level. Wo der anständig groß gezeichnete Held auch hinkommt, trifft er auf schön gestaltete Hintergründe (bei vollem PAL-Screen) und originelle Gegner, außerdem wartet natürlich pro Welt ein bösartiges Schlußmonster. Aber zuerst wartet mal ein optionsreiches Hauptmenü...

Hier darf man zwischen drei Schwierigkeitsstufen wählen, sich seine Soundbegleitung aussuchen (Rock, Green, Rave, Funk oder FX pur), die Spielgeschwindigkeit dem persönlichen Geschmack anpassen und entscheiden, ob man mit bis zu fünf Continues ins Rennen gehen will. Sind alle Würfel gefallen, landet Zool per Druck auf den Feuerknopf im Alptraum eines verfressenen Konditors, der sogenannten"Sweet World".

Der Weg führt über Rampen aus Lebkuchen, vorbei an Riesenlollies und einem Meer von Smarties. Bei Horizontalscrolling werden herumwatschelnde Zuckerstangen und fliegende Bonbons auf's Korn genommen, auch die leckern Extras sollte man nicht verschmähen. Da gibt es so das Übliche wie Smartbombs und Supersprünge, aber besonders gut geschmeckt hat uns ein Doppelgänger, der dem Original wirklich alles nachtut! Irgendwann verdunkelt sich dann der Screen ziemlich abrupt, und der Amiga schnaufelt den nächsten Abschnitt in den Speicher. Als Höhepunkt der Leckerschrecker wartet noch ein garstiges Süßigkeiten-Monster, ehe der Spaß in der "Music World" weitergeht.

Ist auch der Kampf gegen diverse Instrumente, wildgewordene Kopfhörer, Microphone, CDs und Kasseten gewonnen, tritt man gegen allerlei Werkzeug wie Bohrer und Hämmer an, etwas später macht man in der "Fruit World" mit explodierenden Radieschen, Killer-Karotten und anderem Grünzeug Bekanntschaft. Es folgen Abenteuer am Rummelplatz, in der "Shoot 'em up World" und schließlich im Spielzeugland.

Überall gilt es, vertrackten Hindernissen auszuweichen (manche können auch einfach weggeballert werden), Seile oder Leitern zu erklimmen und steile Wände zu überwinden. Das tut Zool, indem er sich in die Luft wirbelt, ander Wand festkralt und dann weiterwirbelt - mit derselben Kreiseltechnik können auch Gegner ausgeschaltet werden. Mit unschönen Problemen hat man dabei kaum zu kämpfen, denn die Steuerung ist fein abgestimmt, die illustre Feindesschar verhält sich sportlich fair, und das durchdachte Leveldesign wird kaum je von lenken Stellen getrübt.

Keine Frage, Zool is ein brillantes Plattformgame! Vom Spielfeeling her erinnert es stark an Segas Kult-Igel "Sonic the Hedgehog", und auch die Präsentation bietet all das, was die Konsolen so populär gemacht hat: Die Grafik ist kunterbunt und vielfältig gezeichnet, Freund und Feind wirken eher auf liebenswerte Art witzig als brutal (genau, wie es auch die Eltern gerne sehen...).

Die Animationen sind durch die Bank sehr ordentlich, die des ulkigen Hauptdarstellers sogar ganz ausgezeichnet; lediglich das Scrolling konnte bei unserem Presse-Testmuster noch nicht voll überzeugen, aber daran will Gremlin bis zur Endversion noch feilen. Was den Sound betrifft, können die Jungs ihre Feile getrost wegpacken, denn die Musik ist ebenso abwechslungsreich wie mitreißend, und die Effekte gehen auch voll in Ordnung.

Wird Zool also über kurz oder lang wirklich und wahrhaftig den gleichen Kultstatus erlangen wie Mario, Sonic und Konsorten? Vermutlich eher nicht, dazu hat Germlin zu wenige wirklich neue Ideen in das Spiel gepackt - es ist vielmehr ein rundum gelungener Mix aus bereits bekannten Features. Deshalb hat es auch für einen Joker-Hit nicht ganz gelangt, aber für einen der besten Plattform-Hüpfer am Amiga langt es bei dem Alien-Ninja allemal dicke! (C. Borgmeier)

Zool 1 logo

Gremlin finally unleash their hedgehog-challenging ninja ant on a platform-hungry public. Can it beat the consoles at their own game?

For the last few months those nauseating little console owners have been raving about how good their machines are compared to the likes of the Amiga. You know the sort. They are all the same. Talk about games and all they can say is 'Sonic is this fast,' or 'I can do this on Mario'. These sad types who are obviously in need of a holiday in Yugoslavia can brag no more. The age of the hedgehog is over, the age of the ninja ant is here.

'A what?' I hear you ask. Yep, a ninja ant. What do you mean, 'That's ridiculous'? If Ninja Turtles can make a killing, the rest of the animal kingdom were bound to try to elbow in on the action. This is one ninja, though, who is taking second place to no-one, especially a smug blue spiky thing and a fat old Italian plumber. Those of you who think that Gremlin can only produce great racing games are in a for a shock, 'cos Zool is a platform blaster that makes others pale into insignificance.

So what does our friendly neighbourhood ant have to do? Well, Zool has been charged with the task of travelling through seven worlds collecting items and killing bad guys (wow that's original), just the same old sort of stuff that's all in a day's work for a super hero. In Zool you have to run, jump, and er, oh yeah, shoot. What do you mean you want to know more? Isn't that enough for you? Alright, alright. Just because I'm a nice guy (and this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I have the rest of these pages to fill), I'll tell you all about it.

This is one ninja who's taking second place to no-one

Zool, the magnificANT, (You're fired - Ed.) is facing a tough challenge. His first trial is the Sweet World where the sweets fight back. Wild liquorice pokers and chocolate spiky Harolds are on the rampage. As if that was not enough there are sweets lying all over the place, and being the sweet toothed ant that you are, you want them all, and you want them now. Indeed, you NEED them now, because if you do not collect a set number of sweets (or other artifacts, depending on which worlds you are in - on the music level you have to pick up records and musical instruments, on the tool level you have to get nails and screws, and so on and so forth), you won't be allowed through the level's exit, no many how many meanies you have murdered.

A pretty impressive set of options

Speed is the name of the game in Zool. The ant is fast-moving even on normal mode and, if you want a real laugh, just try him on fast mode. Yeah right, very funny. In fact, the choice of speeds is just one of a pretty impressive set of options you get at the start of the game. Following Apidya's lead in taking a console-like approach to presentation. Zool lets you choose one of three difficulty levels, one of two speed settings, the number of continues you want (up to a maximum of five), and even whether you want inertia on your character or not.

The seven levels are divided into three stages but luckily at the start they are pretty linear, i.e. in a straight line. On later levels things really get complicated and you have to go all over the place looking for your goals. For an example, check out Music World. It is the prime example how a level should be. None of this straight-line run-to-the-right nonsense. It's up, down and all around before you know what's happening. This is the stuff good games are made of.

All the levels look very cutesy. In fact Zool owes more than a pasing nod to both Robocod and (especially) Harlequin, but don't take that to mean it's a rip off. The superlative graphics, breathtaking speed and awesome playability take this head and shoulders above the rest.

The graphics are detailed enough to look interesting and hold your attention but not so detailed that the game speed suffers. The anti-ant adversaries range from the 'oh look, what a cute blob' to 'Oh my god, what the *$## is that? Simple but devastatingly effective, Zool looks as good as any arcade platform game (and that's exactly what it is, with none of Harlequin's more adventure-like elements) you can think of.

Graphics guaranteed to raise a smile

Platform games often suffer from being five minute wonders. (How many people have shelled out hard cash for games only to either get bored with them or complete them in the five minutes flat? Too many, that's for sure).

I am more than happy to Zool is an exception to this rule. With a total of 21 stages to complete, you have really got your work cut out, and the stages aren't short either. Some might feel, in fact, that it is too tough. But with up to five continues and restart points to find in all the levels it will prove a challenge, but not an unassailable one.

As if the length of the stages was not bad enough, there is a monster guardian waiting for your undivided attention at the end of each level and these guys have not spent any time in charm school. To top it all there are some pretty cunning secret rooms lying around.

Some you will probably find by pure luck (I know I did) while others need some thought, like playing the right tune on a piano keyboard or jumping on blocks in a certain order (here's one place where you really see the Harlequin influence). Others are a bit more obvious. Why else would a big golden question mark the floating in mid air? An omen perhaps?

As you would expect from a game as frantic as this, the sound effects are not exactly laid-back and relaxed. You get four choice of music, but you can, of curse, elect to play with no music at all to get the full effect of those lovely sound effects.

It won't win many prizes for originality, so what is it about Zool that makes it so damn good? Well with graphics guaranteed to raise a smile and gameplay so addictive you will get withdrawal symptoms when you stop, it cannot fail to be a hit. It is not just one of those run and jump games (although there is a lot of that in there, obviously), you have to clamber up walls, slide down slopes and generally do a little bit more than you would expect from a platform game.

It is fast, tough and kicks the ass of certain games featuring certain characters I could mention. Fans of Harlequin will freak over this, and if you are not a fan of that game then try it anyway, you will be very pleasantly surprised.

Zool 1 explained

1. This is the magnificANT Zool, not only is he a ninja ant but he plays a mean piano as well. Try it out when you find a keyboard. Tougher than the Turtles, speedier than Sonic, mightier than Mario, Zool is the new breed of super hero.

2. Only 09% completed, not time to get complacANT with this much still to do. There's no point just racing through a level because if you don't get 100% you'll just have to find your way back to finish up.

3. I don't want to string you along but these guitars take you closer to your target. So stick your neck out and get ahead. Bridge that gap and get in tune. (One more guitar line and you're out -Ed.) That struck a chord (That's it, you really are fired now - Ed.)

4. Hit the high notes and you'll go far. It's the only way to get those out of reach targets so take note. I always did get carried away by music.

Zool 1 You'll have to be quack on the draw, or something little like that. Anyway, this ninja ant has to call on some friends from the rest of the animal kingdom from time to time.
Zool 1 I never used to get anything like these tanks in my Meccano set. All my 'creations' used to end up looking like the mess on the right.
Zool 1 Only five percent of the level completed and Zool stops to learn his alphabet. If he doesn't get a move on he'll be in the soup.
Zool 1 One false move and we drop the giant panda on your head.
Zool 1 Still going strong, Zool comes face to face with a mutant goldfish. In this case loads of points and, more importantly, a step nearer the end.
Zool 1
It may be a cunning ploy but maybe I should hit the button that says HIT on it. Hah, we're way too smart for these games.
Here's a great puzzle that we figured out for ourselves and didn't have to resort to looking up the solution at all. Not us guv, no. Well actually...
Zool 1
Zool 1
Ah the well known liqourice allsort firing bumble bee. Get behind him and duck. When he goes by let him have it in the allsorts.

Zool 1 logo CU Amiga Screenstar

Tony Dillon checks out Gremlin's self-proclaimed Sonic beater, to see if it lives up to such claims...

We have a lot to thank the likes of Nintendo and Sega for. Although we may never experience Mario or Sonic on the Amiga, they have opened the way for a stream of highly-playable clones, such as Millennium's Robocod or Ocean's The Addams Family. The latest of these console-esque platform extravaganzas is Zool - The Ninja Of The Nth Dimension, and, as far as I'm concerned, it's the best of the bunch.

The plot is so thin it makes Lena Zaveroni look positively porky. Zool is a dimension-jumping Ninja with more tricks up his sleeve than Simon Drake. Only he's got lost while leaping from pillar to post (in a metaphysical sense) and now needs a little help to get back.

This is where you step in. As everyone must already know, the game is billed as a 'Sonic The Hedgehog Beater'. Having played both, all I can see that Zool has in common with Sonic are the huge sprites, its gaudy use of colour, and its incredible speed.

There are seven dimensions to work through, each made up of three enormous levels. Each level is basically a two-dimensional maze, and your task is to locate the exit which, while normally accepted to be the far right of the level, is never quite where you expect it to be.

Each level is built up from three component parts: platforms, bonuses, and the enemy. At least, that's it in a wildly underestimated sense, as there are countless different kinds of each. Platforms vary between solid, moving, collapsible, deadly spike or obstacle-coated ones. Bonuses can also be anything from small pieces of fruit which top up your score, to magical bonuses which arm our ant-like hero with assorted magical capabilities.

Each level features an individual set of monsters and bonuses, as well as world-specific elements which either help or hinder. In Music World, for instance, there's a giant piano keyboard which tinkles away for bonus points when it is run across. In addition, in Fruit World, open baked bean cans serve as handy springboards, whereas in Tool World, drill bits can be used as sturdy platforms, provided they're not spinning at the time, otherwise you're likely to lose a leg.

Zool himself is probably the most amazing character ever to grace an Amiga monitor. He may look sweet, but underneath that innocent exterior lies the heart of a killing machine, and an extremely capable one at that. Zool can pull off so many different moves that you'd think the controls would involve serious amounts of physical dexterity.

For example, from a standing start, he can jump, run, punch, perform a spinning kick, or send enemies flying with a mean sliding tackle. He can also cling onto vertical walls and perform four different magic spells. It may sound like a lot for a platform game, but the numbers and speed of the enemy make every move vital, and they actually prove very instinctive to use.

All the moves are accessed via the joystick, and, complicated though it may initially seem, they can be mastered with a little practice. The two most powerful moves you have at your disposal other than your magic cannon (which should only be used rarely due to its limited resources) are the spinning jump and the sliding kick.

The spinning leap, performed by depressing the firebutton while Zool is airborne, causes a blade to extend from either side of him to kill anything he touches. Equally powerful is the sliding tackle which makes any creatures, it comes across lose their footing and fall into oblivion.

Zool's magic extends way beyond mere smart bombs, although one of the four spells he can perform is a firework to clear the screen of bad guys. On top of this, he can also cast three temporary spells. The first lets him jump higher than normal. Whilst another offers temporary invincibility.

Most impressively, though, you can also call in some extra firepower in the form of Zool - The Ninja Of The Nth Dimension. Hang on, there can't be two of them, can there? Well, yes, but only for a short while. This duplicate of our hero mirrors the moves you make exactly and effectively doubles your firepower. The spells are cycled with the space bar and selected by holding down the firebutton, which causes the dome-topped one to kneel for a moment ad a rocket to fly upwards before exploding into action.

Each spell has a limited amount of uses, which can be extended by collecting the bonuses hidden around the levels, and believe me, they can be anywhere --from hidden rooms to within key enemies.

The basis of Zool is fun, and everything about the game shows that. From the zany - and that isn't a word I use lightly - soundtrack, which is full of light-hearted and unnecessary samples of snoring, cocks crowing and breaking glass, to Zool's rich and humorous personality. It's amazing how much feeling you can get from a small bunch of sticks held together by a large, blinking black rugby ball.

Zool is one of the most playable games ever released - mind you, that's hardly surprising when you consider that the team behind Venus The Flytrap and Switchblade II are the coders of the project. In fact, the game is so playable you wonder why all games aren't this good.

Admittedly, the controls take a little getting used to - although you can survive simply by mastering the basic run and jumping skills - but it's incredible how instinctive they become after a little time, and you find yourself fully in control of one of the most versatile characters this side of a Magnetic Scrolls adventure.

I can't say it really beats Sonic outright and the The Addams Family is slightly more polished in appearance and control. However, it is definitely one of the best platform games released on the Amiga, and you'd be absolutely out of your tree to miss it.

There are seven worlds for Zool to conquer. Sweet World is where Bertie Bassett goes on the rampage with a bazooka; Music World is where Mantovani and Metallica stand side by side; Tool World is populated by carnivorous wingnuts. There's also Fruit And Veg World which gives brussel sprouts their chance to get their own back. Fun Fair World promises to turn your stomach, and Toy World shows what would happen were there ever a revolution in Hamleys. All of these levels have Zool in battle armour, leaping about all over the place, kicking the stuffing out of everyone. You may have noticed that I've only mentioned six worlds. The last, Shoot 'Em Up World, is actually a scrolling blast, in the vein of every shoot 'em up since Scramble, and is big, hard and very fast. How much more variety can you have? A Text adventure as well, perhaps?

Zool 1 logo Zero Mutt's Nuts

ZOOL: THE NINJA OF THE NTH DIMENSION: Out in August from Gremlin on Amiga and ST, £25.99. Nintendo versions to follow next year.

Gremlin's new platformy arcade romp stars Zool, an adorable ninja hailing from the Nth dimension. MARTIN POND has never been to the Nth dimension but did once took a vacation job with a Ninja Death Squad. Even though his duties had less to do with moving as silently as the cat and being as deadly as a dragon, and more to do with making tea, we thought we'd let him review it anyway.

Amiga"Slightly Round With No Trousers Parts." That was the original pitchy description which the marketing bods at Gremlin came up with for Zool, before they settled on "The Ninja Of The Nth Dimension". No doubt they decided that a leading sprite who wasn't anatomically correct was actually no real selling point. Still, he may be as clean and smooth as an Action Man, 'down there', but he's fully functional everywhere else (which is just as well, since his mission takes him through seven different worlds, each crammed with puzzles, hidden rooms and baddies).


Zool also has a selection of spells up his close-fitting black sleeves. He can cast these to help him out of a tight corner. You only get a limited number, but there are spares to be found lying around and you can save them up for a rainy day. They include not only the obligatory high-jump, shields and smart bomb, but also a dead handy 'body double' who appears and follows him around, providing the firepower.

Apparently Gremlin have spared no expense working out all the fine detail to this power-up, hiring a genuine Tibetan monk as philosophical adviser. So when they say this temporary twin is the Ying to Zool's Yang, you know it's not just hot hair. Think of him as the Richard to Zool's Judy, however, and you'd probably be nearer the mark.


Not only can our mysterious masked hero run, climb walls and hang from the ceiling, but he can kick, punch and chuck a mean shuriken. His party piece, however, is when he whips out a naked blade and pirouettes around like a regular Moulinex - chopping, kneading and dicing as he goes. All in all he has enough slick moves to make Bruce Lee look about as agile and deadly as Harold Bishop..

Well I never - Zool's very fast, dead easy to pick up and totally, totally addictive. In fact it has a definite consoley feel to it - one might even say a certain hedgehoggy feel (if you get my drift). Through Gremlin would no doubt purport to not caring if Sonic were to end up as roadside pizza, the two games do have a similar atmosphere and that certain playable style. In fact as well as gracing the Amiga and ST, there's a distinct possibility of Zool eventually appearing on a console near you. You jammy swine, you.Z

the 7 worlds

The worlds pencilled in on Zool's itinerary include the following:

This one looks scrummy, doesn't it? Dolly mixtures, Allsorts and Smarties everywhere - icky sweet tuck as far as the eye can see. But beware - dental decay is not the only danger in this land of confectionery. Imagine if Bertie Bassett set up a satanic death cult and you'd have a fair idea of what to expect by way of a welcome in this diabetic's nightmare.

It's music heaven in this one - the drum solos go on for ever, and there are no old squares around to tell you to turn it all down. You can gain extra height to reach the tops of those enormous bass speakers by bouncing on a kettle drum or by riding a stream of notes blasting out from a trumpet. Alternatively you can just jam for a while by stomping all over the ivories in the enormous keyboard, or create your own scratch mix by running around on the record deck. You can dangle from some of the overhead wiring, but since our hero isn't properly earthed there's always the added danger of a nasty 'Ieccy shock'. Other dangers in Music World include flying cymbals, a particularly stroppy stringed section and the ever-present risk of Milli Vanilli turning up uninvited and trying to bluff their way in.

Full of Vitamin C, but highly dangerous all the same, the citizens of fruit 'n' veg world are rotten to the core. You're aided by half-open tins of fruit salad (you can use the lids as springboards) and squeezy bottles of Jif lemon (which you can jump on to shoot a jet of acid at a foe). The opposition includes pomegranate volcanoes, exploding radishes and airborne legumes. The role of end of level boss falls to a digitised version of 'fruit and vegetable guru', Eastender Pete Beale. Spook! (Are you sure you managed to play that far? Ed.)

Power tools a-gogo in this world - enough to make even the hardest DIY enthusiasts go all soppy and dewy-eyed. It may look like the Black And Decker catalogue, but once again danger lurks everywhere. There are ball-bearings, conveyor belts and oil slicks lying around everywhere, along with wandering chainsaws and blowtorches. Or can Zool afford to hand around ine one spot for too long. Drill bits and saws keep popping out of the woodwork willy-nilly, ready to inflict one of those nasty accidents in the home. Makes your eyes water just thinking about it, doesn't it?

Bit of a departure here. Zool clambers aboard his pan-dimensional Ford Escort to indulge in a spot of horizontally scrolling arcade action. It's totally not the same as the other worlds, but pretty fab all the same.

The last two worlds you get to plunder for bonuses are Fun Fair World and Toy World. Sadly, Offal World - an eight world in which you had to collect yummy sweetbreads while avoiding itinerant tripe - was apparently dropped after complaints from the Meat Marketing Board. What a downer.

Zool 1 AGA logo AGA

Gremlin * 0742 753423 * £25.99 * Reviewed AF39 95%

Remember Zool? Well, if you don't you must have been buried in a very deep hole for the past few years because the Ninja from the Nth Dimension has captured the imagination of Amiga-owners across the globe. It received a massive 95% per cent in issue 39 of Amiga Format and still keeps many members of the team up until the early hours. Small wonder then that the A1200 version of this platform king was eagerly awaited. But what a cock-up.

When you start there is no indication of the horrors to come. For the first two levels, everything seems to be okay. And hey! There's a brand new piccy during the title sequence and a neat little animation before the game begins showing Zool trying out his new boots, presumably on someone's face.

Some incredible backdrops move fluidly and colourfully in harmony with the Ninja as he prances around in search of various goodies and the way out of each stage. Things look good so far because there hasn't yet been much on the screen at once. When that happens, everything slows down dramatically, and that's not something which was a problem in the original. Zool is playable, primarily because of its speed; if that fails, the game is pulled back down to the level of other platform games that would otherwise be considered as its obvious inferior.

This A1200 enhancement is quite ambitious: there's a lot more to see in the background of each stage which makes use of the computer impressively, although so much colour and detail is sometimes in danger of cluttering the screen, making you forget what game you are playing.

Some of the sound has been revamped and in general it's a slicker, more attractive package. But Zool's own speed is everything in a game like this. To allow any slowing of his update speed is like tripping the guy up in his prime and it shows that designers for the A1200 should also code in moderation as well as with the intention of stretching their machine.

If you've never come across Zool before, don't be put off - you'll definitely enjoy it. If you have, then this version is still recommended, but only for those who aren;'t devout fans of the original and who can tolerate a little sacrilage.

Zool 1 AGA logo AGA A1200 Speziell

Zugegeben, Gremlins Plattform-Star durfte sich bereits im Oktober letzten Jahres auf zwei Joker-Seiten breitmachen - aber diesmal hat es das urige Vieh ganz speziell auf den A1200 abgesehen!

Wir haben es also mit der ersten Spezialversion eines Spiels zu tun, die von der Power des neuen Wunder-Amigas Gebrauch macht. Und das ist doch wohl allemal ein halbes Seitchen wert, selbst wenn sich am Gameplay selbst nicht das geringste geändert hat...

Nach wie vor tut es der springlebendige Knuddel-Ninja seinen Konsolen-Vorbildern "Sonic" bzw. "Mario" gleich: Mit turboschnellen Sprungstiefeln düst Zool über die Plattformen und bezwingt seine Gegner per Kopfsprung, Schwert oder Ballermann. In sieben abwechslungsreichen Welten (darunter eine horizontal scrollende Ballerstage) gilt es, Bonus-Utensilien aufzusammeln und Endmonster zu killen, damit sich die Tür zum jeweils nächsten Level öffnet.

Wie gehabt ermöglicht eine geniale Steuerung das Laufen, Springen, Schießen, Raufen und sich an Felswänden Festkrallen - nun allerdings in konkurrenzlos farbenprächtiger Bonbob-Grafik! Gescrollt wurde schon seit jeher in alle Himmelsrichtungen, neuerdings aber parallax und absolut ruckelfrei. Die Akustik überzeugt durch vermehrten FX-Einsatz, außerdem klingen die vier alternativ anwählbaren Musikstücke etwas klarer.

Wenn sich an der Gesamtnote trotz aller Verbesserungen nichts geändert hat, dann weil sie halt wirklich rein kosmetischer Natur sind. So wurden etwa die (wenigen) unfairen Stellen nicht ausgemerzt. Und besonders hat es uns gewurmt, daß am ständigen Wechseln der beiden Disks auch hier kein Weg vorbeiführt - das wäre doch gerade am 1200er locker zu vermeiden gewesen! (rl)

Zool 1 AGA logo AGA

Can Zool possibly get any better?

Zool - Ninja of the Nth dimension, hedgehog-beater and self-proclaimed mascot for the Amiga - caused a sensation last year, hitting the charts big time and staying at number one for a Bryan-Adams-ly long time. At last a character to give Amigans someone to champion, and supposedly one who could beat up both Sonic and Mario in a fight (if any of them actually existed).

For those of you who have been living in a bubble for the last year, Zool is a platform game covering six different world, with three stages to each world. Zool himself is your man, and you control him on his quest to get off a planet that he's crash-landed on.

The standard version of Zool impressed many with its speed and scrolling, so presumably this version is even more impressive. What does it have to offer over its predecessor then? Well, on loading you're treated to a very impressive intro screenshot which obviously makes use of the extended palette of the A1200, but this has nothing to do with the game and is really of only passing interest.

Once into the game itself, you're aware of the two main additions to this enhanced version. The first is a much more colourful background with parallaxing effects to boot. All the levels are given this enhancement, with graphics that suit the theme of each world. Now, it's questionable as to whether this is really an enhancement.

Personally I don't give a damn whether something has excellent parallaxing effects unless it enhances the game itself, and I'm sorry to say that it doesn't in this case. Quite the reverse in fact. They may look pretty in these screenshots but, on the early levels especially, they're incredibly cluttered when they're scrolling and it makes it harder to see what's actually going on in the game.

This is a matter of taste perhaps, but when the screen gets full of sprites it seems that even the A1200 can't cope with it all, and the animation drags a little. I was expecting the game to run a lot smoother and faster than its unenhanced predecessor, but it didn't. In fact, it even seemed a bit slower in places, presumably because of the extra colours and backgrounds it has to deal with.

You'll remember that I said there were two enhancements. The other is the sound, which benefits from a few extra sound samples - the bees hum now, the drums thump, things pop all over the place. Well, you know, it's fine but it didn't particularly enhance my enjoyment of the game.

Zool itself is a great game, but I actually enjoyed this 1200 version less than the original. The enhancements are purely cosmetic, and in some parts of the game actually detract from the gameplay. The original runs on the 1200, with a few glitches, but you might be better off going for it instead of this.

Zool 1 CD32 logo CD32 Amiga Format Gold

Programmers: Gremlin in-house * Publisher: Gremlin 0742 753423 * Price £25.99 * Release: out now * AF Rating: FG93%

From the breathtaking intro the end of World Seven, you know you are playing one heck of a game. Zool is very fast, very furious and filled with all kinds of psychedelic obstacles and baddies for you to overcome.
Widely touted as a console-beater when first released, the triumphant arrival of Zool on the CD32 should help establish the machine as a viable game-playing format and consign pretenders like the lacklustre Oscar to the bargain bins of history.

The aim of the game is to get the "Protector of Creative Thought and Defender of Positive Action" through seven themed worlds - Sweet, Music, Fruit, Tool, Toy, Funfair and Shoot-em-up - collecting bonuses and zapping a motley collection of baddies as you go.

Zool CD32 plays like an absolute dream. You are hooked within the first couple of minutes of play as the scorchingly fast Ninja leaps from platform to platform. There are lots of great touches - like the ability to cling to the side of objects - and his spinning bamboo attack puts even the toughest baddies in their place.

As well as (obviously) including the enhanced graphics and sound effects on the AGA version, Gremlin have also added some marvellous 3D animated sequences and a selection of - hey! - real music for you to blast through your stereo.

All in all, Zool is an incredibly slick, day-glo platformer with a real sense of character. You are hooked into his Technicolor world right from the word go and it is almost impossible to put the controller down. The pace is frenetic and you can make Zool move even faster by toggling the Inertia and Speed settings on the Options screen. There are three difficulty levels too.

Controlling Zool is simplicity itself. Press the Red button on the joypad to make him jump, the Green button to fire and both together for a baddie-beating leap. The D-pad is used for Zool's eight other gravity-defying moves.

No game is perfect, though, and Zool has more than its fair share of faults. For one thing, the backgrounds are so overwhelmingly colourful at times that it is hard to tell what is in the foreground. This means you end up being clobbered by baddies you thought were part of the scenery and the sight of Zool pirouetting madly from platform to platform against such a distracting backdrop can actually make you feel quite ill.

I also hate the way baddies keep coming back to haunt you no matter how many times you kill them.
However, these are minor niggles in an otherwise cracking platform game. Rush out and get yourself a copy today.

Zool 1 CD32 logo CD32

Gremlins Ninja-Ameise hat bei ihrem Hüpfer auf das CD32 neben einigen bunten Bildern und wirklich gelungener CD-Musik auch ein paar zusätzliche Levels mitgebracht. So durchdachte Plattformen, so witzige Animatione und ein derart flottes Gameplay hat auf dieser Maschine sonst nur "James Pond 2" zu bieten, weshalb wir der 69-Mark-Scheibe mit Freuden 83 Prozent spendieren. (rl)


Zool 1 CD32 logo CD32

Zool is quickly becoming an even more ubiquitous character than Dizzy, cropping up on ever console and computer format from the PC to the Game Boy. This is his third incarnation on the Amiga (not counting Zool 2, reviewed earlier in this very issue), and it is a further (small) step from the A1200 version, in that there is a whole new extra world to play with.

The graphics are still the pretty-but-slightly cluttered efforts of the A1200 game, but the soundtrack is (predictably) lots better, with some neat rave-y tunes and lots of shouting which gives things a really busy, happening kind of atmosphere. Oh, and you get a really nifty animated 3D intro and between-level sequences now.