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ZOOM should bring a whiff of nostalgia to those gamesters of maturer years. Longer ago than I care to remember there was an arcade game which involved racing round a two-dimensional grid made up of blank squares - Amidar, I think it was called.

Assorted creatures infested the grid, determined to make life difficult for the player. The aim was to avoid the pursuers and try to pass over all four sides of a square, whereupon it would be painted in. The ultimate objective was to join up each and every square on the network.

At heart, Zoom is that game, dressed in new togs. The flat grid has gone three-dimensional, the game can be played alone or with another player - alternately or simultaneously - there are umpteen varieties of bizarre nasties chasing you and varioud other embellishments have been added, including sampled sound effects.

The hero of the game is Zoomer, a PacMan style character. As he dashes around, he paints in any lines that he passes over. He must join up all the squares on the 3D grid before he can attempt the next level. There are 50 screens to be conquered.

Doing their best to stop Zoomer are a wide variety of bizarre beasts, most notable of which are the deadly Jaggernauts (blond-red, flapping lips - no need to spell out the allusion here), the Wormlets (rubbery green creatures who rub out any painted lines belonging to an incomplete square) and the fast moving Angleheads.

Black holes pop up at random, swallowing Zoomer if he happens to blunder into one. The enemy does not have it all its own way - Zoomer can lay a trail of bombs as he goes.

Inanimate objects strewn around the grid can be helpful. Candy gives him a short burst of speed, apples earn four bonus squares, ice cubes freeze the enemy to the spot while a tube of glue slows them down. A mystery object in the shape of a question mark may reward or punish Zoomer. Best of all, a rocket enables him to leap to the next level.

Graphics are very good, with the three-dimensional effect working well. Animation is smooth and competent and quite humorous in places. This is an entertaining game, presented with much sparkle and polish. There is a large variety of grids and many fast and furious aliens to keep the adrenalin flowing.

Zoom's problem is that it is just too tough, even on the lower levels. If you have fast reflexes and a quick eye, this could be just the game for you. Others a touch slower with the joystick may find Zoom more frustrating than entertaining.

Zoom! logo CU Screen Star

Discovery Software
Price: £19.99

Long ago are the days of the Amidar-type game, when life's beauty was its simplicity. When all a wandering gamer had to do was roam around a maze filling in boxes, by collecting dots or some other similar method. But then a voice came out of nowhere, a beam of light half-blinded me, and... in the oldest traditions of the immaculate conception it appeared on my desk, bearing only one word... Zoom.

Sorry about the rather OTT intro, but I just love anything that smacks of nostalgia. The aim of Zoom is to fill in the grid of boxes by going over the lines that make up the grid. When you go over each line it changes colour, and when a box is completed it does the same. As any player who was around during the era of these games will inform you is not to go about the grid doing it box by box, but instead to try and do it by swooping along all the long lines, thus giving you less ground to cover, also increasing your chances of earning a nice fat time bonus.

Of course my precious little chums, no-one is going to bring out a game without the grim subject of death in it. In this game it is available in many forms. Currently the most popular is death by the little nasties that roam around the maze intent on robbing you of one of your three lives.

There is, however, a way for you to stand up for your rights as a yellowish spherical object! And that is best done dropping one of the three bombs you are given per life, in order to stop in its tracks whichever particular evil is after you.

Other forms of death include holes that appear in the grid, and surprise 'bonuses' which are more like forfeits really.

The beauty of this game are all the little kinks it has that all the previous games in this style did not have. It has lots of little bonuses such as extra points, invincibility, and level jumping. But be careful - as I have already mentioned many of these so-called bonuses can backfire in your face!

It is hard to say what type of dude would really enjoy Zoom; personally I think it is absolutely brilliant. Not too complex but still enjoyable, no really stunning graphics or sound but still very good ones that are clear and attractive.

The whole game has a really concentrated feeling of slickness about it. But although I may rave you may wish to think carefully before buying, as this type of very basic gameplay may only appeal to the very basic minded - like myself, for instance.

Zoom! logo

Discovery Software International, £19.95 disk

Here we are again with another game about round people (wot?). Well, Pacman was round, Harvey Headbanger was round and now Zoomer is round (thus ends our entry for Most Tenuous Start To An Intro Of The Year).

Zoomer Thing In this release from Discovery Software, the converters of Arkanoid onto the Amiga, you take the part of a rather athletic round person, running about on a grid trying to change the tile colours. This is done by surrounding the square with your trail, which you automatically leave behind. If you manage to change all the squares, you can move on to the next plane.

As always, however, there are the nasty monsters of Zoomland trying to kill you, each with their own movement characteristics (see MONSTERS box).

Also littered around the maze are objects to help you in your contest, either giving you an advantage or giving the monsters a disadvantage (see PICK UP box). If you lose all three lives before completing 50 levels then the monsters win and you lose (boo-hoo!).

Paul Glancy It's interesting watching the games industry going back to its roots, and turning up games like Blasteroids, PacMania, Better Dead Than Alien and now Zoom!, which is a 3D version of Amidar. Like the other games I've mentioned, Zoom! proves that the old format isn't at all tired out, and the addition of excellent graphics and good sounds help it stand out in today's market full of innovations. Gameplay is simplistic, but the frenetic chaseabout action provides loads of fun. The dual player mode and collectable icons boost the enjoyment as ever, but I can see the action becoming a teensy bit repetitive over 50 levels that just provide differing screen layouts. Even so, twenty quid is a reasonable price to pay for such classy entertainment, and I'd say Zoom! is definitely a game you should look up.
Maff Evans I like games like this, because they're really silly, appealing to my childish sense of humour. I could tell just from the loading screen that the game was going to be a bit loony, but when I saw the stage-show introduction I just burst out laughing! Little round people dancing about all over the place; brilliant! Some of the music is very well done... no, I tell a lie, all of the music is very well done! The intro piece is particularly good (I'm sure I've heard it somewhere before...), suiting the show wonderfully. The game itself is very addictive, not to say nerve-wrecking at times, bringing cries of 'Ooh!', 'Agh!' and 'Yolks!' after turning along a line straight across the path of a monster. If you like a bit of silliness as well as a playable game, then buy Zoom!

Zoom!: Ice Cubes ICE CUBES: Stop the enemy cold (groan)
Zoom!: Sweets SWEETS: Bonus score or more speed
Zoom!: Money Bags MONEY BAGS: Bonus score
Zoom!: Apple APPLE: Fills all squares it touches
Zoom!: Potion POTION: Temporary immunity
Zoom!: Glue GLUE: Slows down the monsters
Zoom!: Rocket ROCKET: Finishes the grid
Zoom!: Mystery MYSTERY: Who knows...?
Zoom!: Jaggernaut JAGGERNAUT: Follows Zoomer around the grid. One touch is fatal
Zoom!: Wormletts WORMLETTS: Wander around rubbing out Zoomer's trail
Zoom!: Angleheads ANGLEHEADS: Randomly wander the grid. Slow Zoomer down when touched.
Zoom!: Spheroids SPHEROIDS: Walk up and down one line. One touch is fatal
Zoom!: Black Holes BLACK HOLES: Swallow Zoomer up