Zool 2 logo Gamer Gold

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's the return of the ninja from the nth dimension and this time he's got company.

Once again the nth dimension is under attack from forces of non-imagination, the evil Krool and his accomplice Mental Block. Zool, assisted by his female companion Zooz and Zoon the intergalactic wonderdog, are here to save the universe from boredom.

So what have Gremlin come up with this time around? What new and wondrous features have been added to make this a darn fine sequel? Well, there's the new two-player mode, and of course, this time around Zool can be helped out by his kinky, whip-cracking assistant Zooz.

The game is instantly playable, the controls have been made easier, the sound effects groovier, the backdrops more colourful and detailed. The game is bigger than Jean-Claude van Damme's biceps and each level is jam-packed with impressive graphics and bright and imaginative sprites that you can fire bullets at and, in Zooz's case, whip!

The enemies change from level to level and are related to the world they live in. At the end of each world there is the tough end-of-level guardian, Mental Block, who has morphed himself into some baddy which is again appropriate to the level.

The worlds have been ingeniously named (well, sort of) like Tooting Common, Bulberry Hill and Snaking Pass. There are many bonus rooms to stumble across filled with Chuppa Chups goodies along with other bonuses scattered around the levels (you must collect 99 per cent of them to complete the level) and others which will help you out such as Shields, bonus hearts and thankfully many restart points.

The ninjas are also helped by some new moves. Pressing fire while your character is in the air will result in spinning power jumps and back flips can be achieved to reach heights an ordinary jump would not get to. False floors and ceilings can be broke through to reach other parts of the level.

This is where your choice of character can matter as Zool can only go through ceilings and Zooz can only go through floors and therefore the game can be completed in different ways.

However, the downside of the game is that the range of options are not as varied as Zool 1. There are the bog standard options you would normally expect to find on your average platformer such as level of difficulty, music or sound effects, but the nice touches that were added to Zool 1 are missing.

In Zool 1 you could choose the type of music you wanted from rock to rave, or the speed of the game could be chosen, as could whether you wanted Zool to come to a halt quickly or slowly - all of which all combined to make the game stand out from other platformers. A two-player mode has been added to give a new angle to the game, but it seems a little pointless because you and your companion have to take turns to play.

Well, surely that does not make much difference and can be done on a normal one-player game? Maybe if a split-screen option could have been introduced it would have added some variety from Zool 1.

There is no doubt that Zool 2 is a very able platformer. The graphics are amazing, the sound effects superb and it boasts great playability.

But, as with a lot of sequels, it inevitably loses its originality and novelty value. If you are a platform addict and enjoyed Zool 1 then you will probably go for this but do not expect anything too original.

Zool 2 logo Amiga Format Gold

What the hell would anyone want another Zool for? I mean, when you have got one ultra-fast scrolling, colourful-as-a-very-colourful-thing platform blast, what more could you want? Especially when the first one scored a massive 95 per cent.

Now, back when I gave Zool that huge score, putting it in the stratosphere of the AF scoring range along with a mere handful of other games that got so close to (but still so far away from) the perfect score, some people complained. They questioned my sanity, but the bloke in the white coat who checked me out proved to be even more insane than I was, especially after I showed him Zool).

Eat my words
I am a confirmed platform freak, but I have been playing so much Hired Guns and Cannon Fodder recently that I thought maybe Zool 2 would not thrill me in quite the same way as its illustrious predecessor did.

Hey! I can admit it. I was wrong. I was very, very, very wrong. Zool 2 takes everything that was great about the first game and retains it. It takes everything that was merely very good about the first game and improves it. Then it takes a few things that were not even in the first game, casts them into the melting pot, stirs the mixture well, leaves it for a while, and then whips off the lid to reveal the best platformer yet.

If there is a criticism that can be levelled to the original Zool, it is lack of depth to the gameplay. Zool) simply is not a platform puzzler. It is a straight ahead romp. Start at the beginning of the level and rush to the end, bopping baddies and gathering goodies on the way. Beat the clock, do not lose a life and you are laughing.

So what has changed? Well for those of you who are not intimately acquainted with the first game, it featured a ninja alien from the 'n'-th dimension. Do not believe anyone who tell you he ws an ant, because he was not!

This is really the game to make people forget about that damned hedgehog.

Gurly on board
This time round Zool has a buddy, or should that be buddess? Anyway, the female of his species has joined him to help tromp the nasties.

The action takes place on six more graphically-themed worlds, and you can choose to play either Zool, or his alien gurlfriend, Zooz. The levels are more involved than last time, and each has more than one route to the end. Which way you go about completing the level depends on which of the characters you are playing, because each has different abilities, which open up different routes. Zooz, for instance, can jump and spin, in a similar way to Zool himself. But when she lands she can penetrate some floor areas, giving her access to lower levels that Zool may not be able to reach.

Zool has some nifty new moves too, including a killer backspin he activates by kicking off a vertical surface. One big improvement is that Zool and Zooz can both climb up most (but not all) vertical surfaces, rather than having to jump up as in the first game.

This was by far the most annoying aspect of the original Zool, because getting Zool to ascend the walls by bouncing off, and sticking back on was a tad tricky to control, and when he hit a Chocolate Spiky he was flung off the wall in a way that was most difficult to handle. Now if Zool (or Zooz) crawls past any kind of wall-clinging nasty he (or she) just incurs an energy penalty.

In a spin
This time round you have five energy points to lose, rather than three. You will need them! Throw in a dog called Zoon (although I cannot find him), two baddies called Krool (Cruel, geddit?) and Mental Block, a Sonic 2 like tube section, the world's best selling lollipop, and three different difficulty levels, and you end up with the year's best platformer - for the second year in succession.

There is some slowdown on an A500/600, but on an A1200 this game is fast, smooth-scrolling and completely jerk-free. It is not unplayable on a Pre-AGA machine, but it is one good reason to dump that A500 and nag someone to get you an A1200 for Christmas, your birthday or any other good reason you can come up with. I would recommend playing it on an A4000, but that is going a bit far. And anyway, it does not work on an A4000 without going all that pesky boot options rigmarole first.

Well done Gremlin, this really is the game to make people forget all about that damned hedgehog (whatsisname?). Zool 2 is faster and franticer (TM Made-up-Words-R-Us) than any Amiga game ever seen.

Did I mention that I like this game? Because I do! I am supposed to go on holiday tomorrow, but I do not want to, I want to stay here and play Zool 2. When, oh when, are Commodore going to come up with a portable Amiga? Turn on, boot up, freak out!

Zool 2 logo

Vor gut einem Jahr hüpfte Gremlin's Plattform-Ninja aus der "n-ten" Dimension erstmals auf dem Amiga - vom zweiten Dimensionssprung hat die kämpferische Ameise nun Verstärkung mitgebracht!

Am Grundkonzept des erfolgreichen Hüpf-Cocktails mochte Gremlin nicht rütteln, aber immerhin sorgt nun ein neuer Bösewicht für Streß: Der fiese Krool will alle Phantasie des Universums auslöschen! Grund genug für Zool & Co., in altbewährter Manier durch megabunte Comic-Landschaften zu sprinten, tonnenweise Boni aufzusammeln und Krools herzig gezeichneten Schergen per Wurfstern die Meinung zu geigen.

Und wie könnte es anders sein, natürlich prangt auch diesmal wieder das Logo des Süßigkeiten-Herstellers und Sponsors Chupa Chup am Cover der mit Zool-Postkarten, Poster, Aufkleber und Lutscher gefüllten Pakkung.

Die neueste Neuerung ist also Zools Freundin Zooz, die alternativ über die Plattformen turnt - der Zwei-Spieler-Modus erlaubt es nur, hintereinander anzutreten. Das interdimensionale Hüpf-Girl unterscheidet sich aber nicht allein optisch von seinem männlichen Pendant, es hat auch einen individuellen Wirbelkick im Repertoire, mit dem es mühelos poröse Steinmauern durchbrechen kann.

Zool hingegen ist der bessere Springer und Klettermaxe, manche Orte (zumeist Bonusräume) sind somit nur jeweils einem der beiden Charaktere zugänglich. Zool wie Zooz bezwingen ihre Gegnerschaft auch mal durch gekonnte Jumps auf den Kopf, Sammelextras für Smartbomben, frische Energiereserven oder Schutzschilde bringen zusätzlich Hilfe.

Die Landschaften sind bei alledem deutlich pfiffiger gestaltet als beim Vorgänger: Es gibt komplette Bonuslevels, die Hintergründe sind teilweise animiert, und manche der Endgegner kommen richtig originell daher, während Spiegeleier-Katapulte, Flipper und Bumper, unsichtbare Plattformen oder dicke Laserbündel, auf denen man hin- und herspazieren kann, für Abwechslung sorgen.

Auch an kleine, feine Details wurde gedacht, beispielsweise weist ein Pfeil den Weg zum Levelausgang. Weniger schön sind dagegen die fehlenden Levelcodes und die oft unfairen Gegnerattacken, zudem kann man an manchen Stellen nur ins Leere springen und das beste hoffen - wie gut, daß man nach dem Exitus bloß bis zur letzten Wegmarkierung zurückmarschieren muß.

Hinzu kommen Probleme beim Diskhandlung: Die häufigen Nachladepausen sind lästig, und die Zweitfloppy wird kurioserweise zwar angesprochen (der Motor beginnt zu laufen), aber nicht wirklich unterstützt, so daß gelegentliche Diskwechsel nicht ausbleiben. Dem gegenüber steht eine detaillierte Grafik mit butterweichem Scrolling in alle Richtungen; bei der geplanten Version für den 1200er sollte dan selbst das leichte Ruckeln der Sprites kein Thema mehr sein.

Außerdem hat man die Wahl zwischen gleichermaßen gelungenen Sound-FX und Musikstückchen. Trotz der kleinen Macken kann man Zool 2 also ein gutes Zeugnis ausstellen, denn der neue Plattform-Held zählt auf alle Fälle zu den originelleren Vertretern seiner derzeit so weitverbreiteten Art! (rl)

Zool 2 logo

After his cancelled world tour fiasco, Zool is back, and he has been proclaiming his thanks to his new soulmate, Zooz.

Zool has finally sold out. No longer can it be claimed that he is to the Amiga what Mario and Sonic are to the Toys'R'Us consoles. That is right, he is appearing at a Sega and Nintendo console near you know. I do not know about you, but quite frankly I do not care what Zool chooses do. He never once said that his relationship with the Amiga was a monogamous one.

Good luck to the lad - you have got to take work where you can get it these days. Right kids? Get your name about a bit. Rub shoulders (mandibles, thoraxes) with influential people capable of furthering your career. And once you have managed that, do not think that it is all plain sailing.

It had been rumoured that Zool wanted to create his own version of Dante's Inferno (That better not have been an 'ant' gag, Steve. - Ed) for one of the levels in the new game. Inevitably though, when the hot air of art meets the cold steel of business, illusions of grandeur are oxidised in a vaporous whiff of condensed ozone (or something like that).

In other words, it is the old story of the star of the show being a powerless puppet whose strings are pulled by dodgy characters in the background (or whose movements are controlled by a joystick-wielding gamer more like).

Also bear in mind that you have got to make numerous mind-numbing public releations appearances at shows and the like; get your photo taken with people who smell, children who are sick over you, sycophants who embarrass you, journos who sneer at you and parents who laugh at you. There is just no end to the rigmarole the stars of today must endure in the name of their art.

He was controlled by unseen hands

If that lot has not dampened your aspirations of becoming a computer game cartoon character, consider this. You are constantly in the public eye. They push you around, waggle their joysticks at you in a provocative manner and expect you to fill a gaping void in their otherwise sad lives.

And if that still is not degrading enough, you are relentlessly compared to other rival game characters in a none-too-flattering manner. People tell you thin gs hat would make your great great aunty turn in her grave to switch off her hearing aid in disgust.

Think for a minute of the pressure that fame and unmitigated success bring (AP's Les Ellis awarded the original Zool a slightly over-enthusiastic 90%). It is a not-too-well-known fact that Zool's hard shelled chitin nearly cracked. He could not take the adulation, the praise. He felt alone, as if his life was being scrutinised from behind a screen. As if he was being controlled and manipulated by unseen hands. He threatened to pack it all in.

Back to the merry old nth dimension ant-hill for him. Gremlin, seeing that they were in grave danger of losing a potential goldmine in revenue, arranged for a mate for Zool. After all, ants, even Ninja Ants from the Nth dimension, are basically sociable creatures who prefer their own kind to solitary confinement. And so Zooz was born (Zool is not an ant, Steve. - Ed).

Get your photo taken with people who smell

Hatched from a genetically tampered-with egg, Gremlin nurtured her in the wiles of ant chemistry and psychology. She is a smooth silky sultry sex siren, an alluring ant angel, a tantalising tease temptress, an electric embryo of enhanced enchantment, a filibuster of fabulous feminity... well, you get the idea. I met Zooz at the Future Entertainment Show. She is lovely. You can see why she has such a calming therapeutic effect on Zool.

I asked her what her secret was, who her influences were and what sort of antics she would be getting up to with Zool in the future. (Steve, they're not ants. - Ed). She gave me a 'knowing' kind of a smile and said the last question "showed too much anti-ipathy toward her kind". (She's NOT AN ANT, Steve. - Ed.

As for influences, she cited Doris Day from Calamity Jane "I loved the way she Whip Crack Awayed, whip crack awayed, whip crack awaayyeedd. I just to have one for myself". Ah yes, that is right. Zooz either shoots or flays her enemies to a submissive death. The whip makes a lovely crackly kind of a sound. It brings you out in goose bumps of anticipation.

So, secrets. Is she or is she not? You know, 'With' Zool - together, the two of them. She laughed at this one. She said anybody who buys the game will find out straight away whether she is or whether she is not.

Well, here at AP, being the top notch investigative journalist types that we are, we probed further, and we can let you in on a little secret. She is not. That is right, Zooz does not actually play with Zool on the same level.

The two player option is one of those 'your turn, my turn' kind of two player options. "Two together is so much more fun, but you know, the papers would get hold of it and tongues would wag. The next thing you know, they would be saying that the game corrupted young children and attacked good old fashioned Victorian values. Zool and myself have no intention of getting married".

I interrupted and asked her what sort of impression Gremlin were trying to give by describing her and Zool as 'easy' on the option screen. She laughed for a long time at this question before answering. "That is the difficulty level of the game you silly thing".

I must confess to being relieved about that, because I thought it very risqué to describe Zool as 'Hard'. When you put it in the context of game difficulty, it takes on a whole new meaning.

A good mix of control, playability and variety

Despite the denials, I still sensed that there must be more than just a professional counselling relationship between the two characters. I probed Zooz and asked if she and Zool made music together. She laughed again, her voice containing the cool intrigue of a true rom-ant-ic. (STEVE! WATCH MY LIPS! NOT... AN... ANT! - Ed.) "Of course we make music together. It is in the options screen again, silly. You can also opt for sound FX only". I am not sure she understood me properly.

Sensing that the interview would be over if I tried to uncover any more non-existent facts about their relationship, I asked her about Zool's latest game; Zool 2. "Well, obviously I star in it as well. We have got to battle through six completely different worlds. Each world has numerous stages where we have got to do the same sort of thing as Zool did by himself in the original Zool.

You know what I mean. Collect bonuses; sweets, snakes, etc until you have scored over 99 per cent. Keep following the direction the little white arrow on the bottom left hand corner of the screen points to. If you manage to do that without getting killed by the various denizens of the surreal environment, you will eventually reach the end of a stage.

Completing enough stages will lead to an End of Level boss. If you manage to kill him, that is the level completed and you go onto the next level"

It all sounds a bit simple from that description, I told Zooz. "Not at all. Each level presents plenty of challenge, secret areas can be detected. These are full of goodies. There are obstacles to be traversed and puzzles to be worked out. There are even some groovy power-ups to be utlised. Each one has a different effect.

My personal favourite is the Yin Yang power up. With this one, I effectively have a shadow of myself. I can collect more bonuses and absorb more damage. Besides that, it highlights my pony tail in a particularly alluring manner".

Well, despite the excellent PR-ing from Zooz, Zool 2 is not significantly different from the original Zool. It still contains a good wholewheat-balanced breakfast mix of control, playability and variety. Original Zool fans will love it, as will those new to the Amiga fold after getting lucky this Christmas.

If you are looking for one stonking platformer, with all the trimmings, then look no further than Zool 2. Oh, and there was one last question I had to ask Zooz: "Will you marry me?"

Zool 2 logo

The ninja that doesn't resemble an ant is back. And this time he's brought a friend. Jon Sloan joins the party.

The problem with introducing sequels is that people tend to expect part 2 to be better than the original. I mean, with all the lessons of the last game learnt, you'd think that some improvements should be made to the gameplay, graphics, sound et al.

But with a game as good as Zool you've got a pretty tough act to follow. SO you'd be lucky to reach the lofty heights scaled by that top platformer. Unfortunately, Gremlin seem to have fallen well short of that peak.

This sequel once more stars Zool, the Ninja from the Nth dimension; only this time he's brought along Zooz, a female Ninja. The idea is just the same as the original with you (playing Zool or Zooz) leaping about six huge levels in an attempt to catch up with Mental Block, an agent of the mysterious Krool who's intent on wrecking the equilibrium of the Nth Dimension. Yes, I know it's a load of pooh but somebody has got to write that kind of thing.

Anyway, each level has its own specific theme ranging from Swan Lake through Bulberry Hill to The Crazy House. So, with each level you get a whole new graphic set and a completely different group of baddies, each one tied in with the background graphics. For instance, Bulberry Hill is populated by flying light bulbs and light beam shooting desk lamps while Swan Lake is full of dive bombing birds and aggressive half-hatched chicks.

It's a great way of keeping your interest peaked as each nastie demands a different means of attack and defence. It's no good blasting your way through the level bouncing on every enemy you meet as Zool will quickly run out of energy (mind you it is good fun!).

Expectations were running high in the office when we received this. In fact we had to fight over who would get the review. Sadly, after loading it up, I wish I'd lost that scrap.

The whole thing screams of being rushed out in time for Christmas. The graphics - something Zool 1 was highly praised for - seem dull and lifeless by comparison. It is as though they were sketched by an art expert only to be coloured in by a ten-year-old with less than a basic grasp of composition.

The gameplay too, whilst competent, lacks even a 10th of the sparkle that made the original so addictive.

Possibly the only redeeming feature that could pull this game from the murky depths of mediocrity is the music. There's an eclectic range of tunes available - listen out for the mellow tones on level two. Overall, Zool 2 is a let down. The best that can be said that it's a stunningly average platformer.

Breakout sub-game starring Zoon, Zool's two-headed dog DOUBLE DOG
As well as Zooz, Zool's brought along his dog Zoon (Query: is everyone called Zoo(something) in the Nth Dimension? It must be a pretty boring place. -Ed.). This two-headed mutt gets to play a role in his own sub-game. To enter it you need to collect three Zoon tokens, which are hidden about each level. Grab enough and, at the end of that section, you'll zoomed off to Zoon's game. No points for innovation I'm afraid as it's simply anotherBreakoutclone. Guide Zoon left and right to keep a ball bouncing up destroying the coloured blocks above him. Every now and then a bonus falls to the floor which Zoon can collect to help Zool/Zooz in the next level.

Zool 2 AGA logo AGA Amiga Format Gold

Gremlin * 0742 753423 * £25.99 * Not previously reviewed

Do ants have girlfriends and pets? Who cares, because Zool is not an ant, apparently. Anyway, he is back - well he was back before, and now the endearing little Ninja from the Nth dimension is back again, this time in glorious AGA.

And as the Lobo song Me and Zooz and a dog named Zoon goes (remixed version, probably), this time Zool has a ready-made family. There are six levels to tackle, all with different graphic themes and you can be Zool or the lass, But not the dog, more's the pity.

The idea is simple enough (as, indeed is the case with most platformers). Travel across platforms at great speed shooting and collecting things and avoiding the various bad things intent on stopping your progress.

When Zool AGA was originally released it was something of a disappointment - the backgrounds were incredibly detailed and they detracted from the gameplay. And it was slower than the original version. No such problems with Zool 2 AGA though, for this is both pretty and pacy.

The game itself is similar to the first version of Zool - in fact, some might say that it is too similar - but hey, the first was great anyway so that cannot be a bad thing.

If you like your action thick and fast, then this is an excellent choice but for those of you who like to pause for thought and solve the odd puzzle along the way, then you might find Zool 2 AGA a bit too quick and repetitive. But we love it.

Das Dimensionsloch

Zool 2 AGA logo AGA A1200 Speziell

Anfang des Jahres stellte uns Gremlins Dimensions-Ninja erstmals seine Partnerin Zooz vor, jetzt hüpft er mit ihr durch eine spezielle A1200-Version - über die es leider wenig Spezielles zu berichten gibt...

Story und Gameplay sind natürlich wie gehabt: Zool und/oder Zooz müssen dem Treiben des bösen Krool Einhalt gebieten, indem sie durch sechs bonbonbunte Plattformlevels voller drolliger Gegner, nützlicher Extras und origineller Überraschungen sprinten bzw. hüpfen.

Vom Spielerischen her gibt es auch nach wie vor nix zu mäkeln, allerdings war der Sprung aus der "n-ten" Dimension auf den 1200er mit allerlei technischen Schludereien verknüpft.

So wird dem Spieler hier zwar standesgemäß eine HD-Installation offeriert, doch macht bereits die umständliche Bootprozedur die Freude darüber wieder zunichte.

Abhilfe schafft nur zusätzlicher Arbeitsspeicher, der jedoch nicht auf einer Turbokarte sitzen darf, denn mit derartiger Exotik verweigert das eigensinnige Ameisen-Duo jede Zusammenarbeit.

Grafisch hat sich ebenfalls kaum etwas getan: Eine einzige schlappe Parallaxebene ist dazugekommen, während man die Hintergrundanimationen nicht vermehrt hat - und daß es bei hohen Spriteaufkommen immer noch ruckelt, ist ebenfalls kein Ruhmesblatt für die Programmierer.

Auch beim Zwei-spielermodus (nur nacheinander) und der Musik/FX-Begleitung (entweder/oder) ließ man alles beim alten, obwohl gerade hier spezielle Veränderungen angebracht gewesen wären.

Trotz Aufkleber und Poster in der Packung bleibt also ein etwas schaler Eindruck zurück, denn sowohl dieses grundsätzlich immer noch tolle Jump & Run als auch der tolle 1200er hätten eine etwas liebevollere Umsetzung verdient. (ms)

Zool 2 AGA logo AGA

First there was Zool, then there was a second one of it, then they made another one of the first one, and now there's another one of the second one. I think.

Before I start, I'd just like to have a quick word about manual-based copy protection. It seems to be making a comeback, with this and Brian The Lion (a particularly annoying example, where you have to pore over the manual AFTER the first level) this month, and Naughty Ones and Award Winners last month (another couple of diabolical efforts, for various reasons), and it irritates the hell out of me.

Kind of like Zool, but less aimless

"Yes, it's terrible," cry the software publishers, "but it's those nasty pirates, they make us do it, we have to protect the game-buying public from these evil men, we're terribly sorry and everything, but that's the way it is." What a load of old dog's nob.

Because even if you've never owned or played a pirated game in your life (and let's hope you haven't, eh?), you know the first thing that happens when a game gets cracked and put on the bulletin boards - they take the protection out. So what does that leave us with? The poor sap who actually does the decent thing and forks out his cash is the only one who has to knacker his eyesight sitting under an arc-lamp trying to decipher the difference between half-a-dozen near-identical Zools in slightly different poses, or working out whether 'Line 6 Word 1' includes the titles, paragraph headings and whatnot, or not.

"No, you don't understand," the softies protest, we do it so that the pirates have to spend a couple of days cracking the protection, so they don't get the game out to the public the same day it gets released and destroy the sales." Toss. Do they seriously think that anybody who's going to pirate the game is going to be put off by the fact that they might be able to get it two days earlier by coughing up 26 quid?

Always assuming they have got the remotest idea when the proper release date is anyway, given the notorious uselessness of Amiga game publishers at (a) setting a specific date for a game release and telling people what it is and (b) keeping to that date when they do.

Most of the time WE have not got a clue exactly when most games are supposed to go on sale (Zool 2's press release itself says 'Mid March'), and we're the world's leading Amiga games magazine, so what chance have the general public got?

It's a futile complaint, but I am going to keep making it until we all live in a glorious perfect world where honest game buyers do not have to put up with this kind of crap any more.

Anyway, Zool 2 (sorry, spent a bit more time on all that than I meant to). It's kind of like Zool, but less aimless and a bit more action-packed, and it's got a few nice ideas tucked away in it later on.

It rewards persistence, because the first level is awful but things start to improve quite dramatically after World 1.2, with a few clever-ish ideas (like the level with lots of transparent pipes where you can't quite see where you're standing) and of course, it's got top international computer game lass Zooz in it.

Zool seems to gradually improve with every new version, so I'll be expecting truly great things from Zool 4 when they bring it out on the CD32, but this isn't bad for now. Okay?

Game: Zool 2
Runs on: A1200
Publisher: Gremlin
Authors: The Warp Factory
Price: £25.99
Release: Out now

Zool 2 CD32 logo CD32

More frenzied platform frolics as Zool 2 (Gremlin, 0742 753423, £29.99, 87 per cent) hops in with extra levels, 10 music tracks and some natty 3D animated sequences. It is not wildly disimilar to the original, but that was soo good it cannot be a bad thing. A treat.

Zool ist cool!

Zool 2 CD32 logo CD32 Amiga Joker Hit

Kaum haben wir uns im letzten Heft bitterlich über die lieblos hingeschluderte 1200er-Version dieses liebenswerten Plattformgames beklagt, schon haben die Götter der Silberscheibe unser Flehen erhört!

An Story und Spielprinzip wurde natürlich auch hier nichts verändert: Zool und seine putzige Gefährtin Zooz hüpfen weiterhin solo oder nacheinander durch bonbonbunte Landschaften mit so verräterischen Namen wie Schlangenpaß, Schwanensee, Bulberry Hill, Eisberg und Hupenanger. Am ende wartet dann das Eigenheim von Oberfiesling "Mental Block", dessen Chef Krool am liebsten die ganze Phantasie von der Erdoberfläche verschwinden lassen würde, auf Heldenbesuch.

Die erste Verbesserung kommt sogar schon vor dem eigentlichen Spielstart ans Tageslicht, weil die Programmierer der CD-Version zusätzlich ein witziges Intro verpaßt haben. Und der nächste Streich folgt sogleich, denn der Paper Plains genannte Anfangsabschnitt ist ebenfalls nigelnagelneu. Hier erleben unsere Dimensions-Ninjas die Abenteuer des Büro-alltags und hüpfen z.B. über Papierschiffchen, schrauben sich via Tacker-Trampolin in luftige Höhen und sammeln dort auf den Plattformen eines Papierfliegers fleißig alle Boni ein.

Dieser Startlevel mit seinem moderaten Schwierigkeitsgrad ermöglicht dem Spieler nicht nur einen sanften Einstieg in das sprungstarke Vergnügen, er verleiht auch dem ganzen Game ein völlig anderes Gesicht: Gerade bei einem verhälltnismäßig anspruchsvollen Jump & Run (ohne Paßwortsystem!) verliert man ja leicht die Lust an der Sache, wenn bereits der Anfang frustrierend schwer ist...

Davon abgesehen wurden sämtliche Abschnitte nun besser aufeinander abgestimmt, so daß insgesamt ein sehr homogenes Spiel herausgekommen ist - das natürlich immer noch strotzt vor Gegnern und Boni. Am meisten beeindruckt daran jedoch die phänomenale Spielbarkeit, die keine noch so schillernde Konkurrenz zu fürchten braucht. Jeder Sprung von Zool und jede Pirouette von Zooz läßt sich exakt timen, und selbst hoch-akrobatische Ninja-Artistik stellt kein unüberwindbares Problem dar.

Ganz nebenbei sollte auch nicht unerwähnt bleiben, daß es hier die (Zwischen-) Ladezeiten nicht mehr gibt, welche sich bei der Diskfassung doch recht störend bemerkbar machten. Der Grafik hat man ein paar zusätzliche 3D-Animationssequenzen zwischen den Levels gegönnt, die zum Teil hinreißend gelungen sind.

Neu ist auch die astreine Musikbegleitung, wobei man sich die einzelnen Stücke über das Optionsmenü auch einfach so anhören kann. Die rundherum gelungene Padsteuerung setzt dem Ganzen schließlich die Krone auf, und als besonderes Bonbon sind auf der Scheibe vier spielbare Demos bekannter Gremlin-Produkte ("Lotus Trilogy", "Zool", "Nigel Mansell's W.C." und "Disposable Hero") enthalten.

Wir könnten also gar nicht anders, als tief in die Notenkiste zu greifen, und für diese wahrhaft goldige Silberversion einen wohlverdienten Joker Hit hervorzukramen! (ms)

Zool 2 CD32 logo CD32

Gremlin £29.99
A1200 version: 87% AP37

As we said last month, every version of Zool seems to improve slightly on the previous one. I thought the original was a bit rubbish, frankly, but the simple addition of some zippy sound and pretty backgrounds in the 32-bit versions pepped it up considerably.

The A500 Zool 2 was better again, but pretty dull-looking, then the A1200 version put some better sound and backgrounds in again and things were groovy. Now the CD32 port is here, with all the A1200 improvements plus some bits of raytraced animation and, most importantly, a whole new three-level world called Paper Plains. It is not a very good world, to be honest, and coming right at the beginning it does not help Zool 2 previously-mentioned slow start much (the original first world is a bit crap, but things get much better later), but it does make the game a bit bigger and more interesting and it is very easy to get through, so it is not exactly a hold-up. It is not good enough to garner this version any extra marks, though.