Review by Retro

"A game that has too many major flaws"

Zool is a 2D side scroller in which you control a sort of creature that has ninja-like instincts and moves. Zool believes that a major enemy of his has done something (I don't know the exact story and don't care to know it), so Zool will do all he can to find his main enemy and destroy him. To do that, he will have to venture through different kinds of levels and survive the attacks of many strange enemies and bosses.

Zool is a strange sort of game. Each world consists of 4 stages each. In the first three stages of each world, you will just have to find the gold ninja token that is somewhere in that level. Once you get to the end of the last level of each world and find the gold token, you will fight a boss such as a bee with two green donuts as wings.

The levels in Zool have great graphics, but they're not exactly the kinds of places you would expect to see a ninja. The first level consists of a sort of world that has eggs and clouds in the background, and it's pretty much a basic level compared to the others. As you progress through the game, you will go through other levels such as mountain levels with tall trees, levels that are full of radios, keyboards, and even cd's, levels full of tools and metal walls, and more.

In each level, there are many enemies that seem to pop up out of nowhere. These creatures aren't that fond of Zool. What kinds of enemies there are, depends on what level you're in. For example, in the levels with radios and cd's all over the place, the enemies will mostly consist of drums, flying parts of drums, radios that pop up out of the ground and more. In the mountain levels, there will be apples that seem to be faster than Zool, bananas that jump, carrots that pop up out of the ground and spit at you, and more.

The levels themselves also pose a threat to the life of Zool. Like in most side scrollers, there are spikes that can kill you. There is also a time limit. Usually, you will start off with a few hundred seconds, so time shouldn't be one of your main hassles. But everything isn't bad. At any time while you're in any of the levels, you can look at the bottom left of the screen and see an arrow. This arrow points in the direction in which the gold token that signifies the end of the level, is located.

As I said earlier, Zool can collect tons, and I mean TONS of items everywhere throughout all the levels. These items I'm talking about are just laying still in places literally all over the levels. Like the enemies, the items vary depending on what world you're currently playing. For instance, in the mountain world, there are many strawberries, huge pieces of pineapple, oranges, etc., and in the music world, there are items such as small cd's to collect. Remember, these items serve no further purpose than to give you 100 points for each one you collect.

There are also some valuable items that you can find and collect throughout the game of Zool. If you find a certain item, you will have a shadow Zool that follows right behind you (the real Zool) and does everything you do for a few seconds before it disappears. There are also other items such as extra time, bombs that kill all the enemies that are currently on the screen, and more.

As you might figure, since there are enemies in this game and since Zool is a ninja, he should have some killer fighting moves right? Well, he has a few cool moves. In Zool's repertoire are basic moves such as being able to shoot a bullet at any item and jumping on top of the enemies' heads in order to kill them. Those are nothing, because Zool has some cool moves such as running into a wall and flipping off of it, spinning in the air while holding what look to be like sais (Raphael the ninja turtle's weapon), and even sliding. As crafty as some of the enemies are and the way they seem to pop up out of nowhere, Zool will need all of these weapons. Oh yeah, Zool also runs real fast, has great jumping ability, and he can climb up and down walls.

To tell the truth, I really wanted to give Zool a good score, but I can't because the game is not that great at all except for its graphics. It's not that hard to go all the way through this game and beat it, but it can get VERY frustrating the way the enemies seem to come out of nowhere. You can even be walking real slow and cautiously and still be hit by an enemy that all of a sudden appears in front of you. That's because you can't ever see any of the enemies in advance unless they're above or below you. Therefore, you might want to use the spin jumps all the time and always shoot right in front of you no matter what.

Even more frustrating than the way the enemies seem to come out of nowhere, are the levels themselves. Most of the levels aren't that bad, but some are terrible. One example is level 1-4. In this level, there is a bunch of running water, or some kind of liquid that is orange. Zool can't jump while he's in this water and he's real vulnerable to bees while in this substance. But that's not the bad part. You can go in almost any direction you want and search all you want, but it seems like you'll never find the token at the end of the level. Eventually, with some luck, you'll find it. Almost all the levels in the music world is frustrating. It's real hard to find the end of those levels too, but in some of them, you will have to shoot some walls in order to bust through them and to have any chance whatsoever to find the end of the level. To make it short, some levels in Zool are frustrating mazes, even though they're not meant to be mazes. Luckily, once you get to world 3, the levels themselves aren't quite as frustrating.

Another bad thing about Zool is its control. Most aspects of the control are well done. As a matter of fact, everything about the control is well done, except for the way Zool runs, which happens to be what you will probably be making Zool do the most since this is a 2D side scroller. Zool doesn't know the meaning of walk. Even if you barely press the button to move in any direction, Zool will take off running real fast.

Unless you like games that are unbelievably frustrating, I wouldn't recommend getting Zool. Very seldomly do I give any games (even the ones I don't like that much) any score below a 6. Therefore, you know that I'm really not crazy about Zool.

GRAPHICS - The graphics are the only thing about Zool that is actually pretty good. Most of the backgrounds consist of colorful eye candy. Zool and the enemies in the game are strange-looking, but they're well done and they have decent animation.

SOUND - The sounds are alright, but nothing great. Some of the music will get on your nerves, but most of it is bearable. The sound effects such as when Zool collects items and when he attacks a boss, aren't bad at all. However, I hope when you play this game, you really like the sound it makes when Zool gets hit by an enemy, because you'll be hearing it a lot.

CONTROL - Everything about the control is well done except for the way Zool runs. It would've been nice to have Zool walk whenever you press left or right on the directional pad, and then have the option to make him run. But no, they had to make it where he only knows how to run. Take this instinct to always run and add an over-bearing number of enemies that you can't see in advance and it adds up to one of the most frustrating games ever made.

REPLAY VALUE - Unless you like terrible games that will make your face flush with anger real quick, you probably won't be wanting to play Zool much at all, if any, after you go all the way through the game. That is, if you even want to go all the way through the game in the first place.

OVERALL - Zool really had the workings to be a strange, but good side scroller. If only the enemies and the levels themselves weren't so frustrating, this would've been a good game. Stay away from this game if you possibly can!

Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 05/15/01, Updated 05/20/02

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