Publisher: Gremlin Graphics
Designers: George Allen and Ade Carrs
-- Ben Styles, Amiga Computing 54, Nov. 1992)
Thus was Zool born. Actually a product of Gremlin Graphics, who were contracted to provide the Amiga with a flagship title, Zool is the sum total of the following grab-bag of adjectives: green-skinned, alien, gremlin, ninja, from the Nth Dimension, cat-eyed, remarkably fast, and presumably miniscule, if his oversized surroundings are any indication. Zool is the Poochie of videogames. To make matters worse, Commodore included blatant product placement from Chupa Chups, of all things, at regular intervals throughout the first world (which is, appropriately, candy-themed). The effect was disconcerting, to say the least.
What is surprising about Zool is that, for all the crass commercialism and marketing wonkery surrounding its development, it actually wasn’t that bad a game. Certainly there was not much to recommend it over its spiky blue or mustachio-sporting counterparts - both of whom had begun incorporating novel new narrative and gameplay elements into their franchises - but it had a few things working in its favor. To begin with, the level design was singularly creative, with each world, and its respective enemies and obstacles, conforming to a different theme, from the saccharine-sweet candy world to the music world, filled with audio cables, CDs and stereo parts to the plywood-and-steel-plate motif of the tool world. Each one was a study in absolute thematic conformity, and players were motivated less by a desire to beat a particularly challenging boss than they were to simply see how the next world might make use of its thesis. Additionally, it was built on a very solid engine, and while platformers were by 1992 a dime a dozen, that also meant that designers Allen and Carrs could have just recycled code and probably gotten away with it. The fact that they took the time to deliver to Commodore a quality product makes them the unsung heroes of the tragic tale of Zool.
Despite the fact that Zool was intended to be the Amiga’s exclusive videogame icon, the game has to date been ported to an impressive array of other systems, including the PC, the Atari ST, Nintendo’s Game Boy and Super Nintendo, Sega’s Game Gear, Master System and Genesis, a rare arcade version, and even a port to the RISC-based Acorn Archimedes home computer. The original Amiga edition is still widely considered to be the finest of the lot.
|(In 1995, Zool received a pair of tie-in young adult novels: Cool Zool, by Stan Nicholls, and Zool Rules, by Ian Edginton. Edginton is best known for his work in comics, most notably his run on X-Force and his contributions to legendary British compilation monthly 2000 A.D., while Nicholls, a journalist and fantasy author, has written the Quicksilver trilogy, the Orcs trilogies, and the Nightshade Chronicles trilogy.)|