Review – Zool Redimensioned –

Zool is a train simulator game, which is an idea I haven’t really heard of before. The idea of a game where you do not play as a train driver but as a train, is intriguing. The idea is that you can choose to play out the original 0-6-0 “Blue Peter” locomotive, or one of many other pre-defined models.

Want to lose weight? Zool Redimensioned is an interesting weight loss game that is sure to get you moving around and burning off calories. The game is made up of 30 simple tasks to complete, each with a unique calorie-burning benefit. While the game itself is simple to play, its tough to beat the benefits once you’ve reached your goal weight.

Due to the early 1990s popularity of Sonic the Hedgehog, every developer and publisher in the known world attempted to build a mascot platformer to compete with the blue blur and that chubby Italian plumber. Some of them were successful, but many others, such as Bubsy and Awesome Possum, became industry laughingstocks. Others had a brief period of success among a certain group of players back in the day, only to vanish completely a few years later. The Zool franchise is one of the most prominent instances in this scenario.

At the very least, it’s not a standard meadow level.

Gremlin Graphics initially created and published Zool: Ninja of the Nth Dimension for the Amiga in 1992. It was a conventional platformer with an alien goblin ninja (or whatever the heck the titular Zool character was meant to be) as the protagonist, clearly influenced by Sonic’s first few games. You’d go through brief stages with generic backdrops (“candy” theme, “music” theme, etc. ), collecting objects and large macguffins, and sometimes defeating a monster. I haven’t played the original Amiga version, but I have played the SNES and Mega Drive versions. They weren’t very excellent.

This hasn’t deterred Sumo Digital Academy and Secret Mode from resurrecting the franchise. Zool Redimensioned is a remaster of the original game that borders on a complete remake, considering how effectively the creators have updated what was previously an average-at-best platformer with control and design problems into a fairly good indie product that plays, looks, and sounds well, even by 2021 standards. A remake of an uninspiring game that, for the first time in almost thirty years, has finally enabled it to shine.

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There are a few boss fights sprinkled throughout the game. They are much more difficult than everything else in the game.

The creators took care to include a flawless emulation of the Mega Drive version of the game so that we could truly evaluate the many enhancements over Ninja of the Nth Dimension from the 1990s. I’m not sure why the Meda Drive version was chosen to be included in this bundle, since this is a terrible game. Its music is awful, the controls are clumsy, the aspect ratio is unimpressive, and the graphics are terrible. I’m not familiar with Amiga emulation, but that version should have been provided as a bonus with Zool Redimensioned. The basic remastered game, however, more than makes up for how bad this “original” version is.

We can now appreciate the excellence of Zool’s level design thanks to improved graphics, higher resolution, and a redesigned control system. They’re a little more open-ended than your typical platformer, obviously inspired by Sonic’s exploration-based level design, although on a much smaller scale. The titular Zool is a quick-witted character, but he isn’t a speedster. He can move quickly, execute a double leap, spin in mid-air to increase his jumping distance, and fire brilliant jewels (or whatever they are meant to be) at opponents. He can also climb up walls and grasp railings, although those are the only times when his ninja abilities are put to use.

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As a bonus, there’s a Mega Drive version from the early 1990s, although it’s not very good.

Because none of the levels are very lengthy or tough, they never outstay their welcome. I’m fairly confident whatever problems people had playing Zool back in the day were due to dated hardware constraints, since being able to see what’s ahead of you with more accuracy, as well as correctly identifying hidden pathways and objects with precision, makes Zool Redimensioned a pleasure to play. Sure, the bosses may be challenging, but I found this game to be very soothing at times. This decision was influenced by the enhanced graphics and much more enjoyable music.

That isn’t to say that Zool Redimensioned is without flaws. The fact that the level backdrops only change every four courses continues to irritate me. The game is still incredibly short, and given how much simpler it is than its predecessor, you should be able to finish it in one or two sittings. Finally, the emulated Mega Drive port is not only difficult to play, but there is no way to exit it without hitting Alt+Tab since it lacks a “quit” feature. Don’t spend your time with this tiny port, I can’t emphasize this enough. Stuff’s nice to have it, but it’s not worth the trouble.

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That huge white disk is a macguffin, not an adversary. And I’m not sure what that’s meant to mean.

More games like Zool Redimensioned are needed. The original wasn’t great, and it was quickly forgotten during the early 1990s mascot platformer craze, but thanks to this pretty robust remaster, what was once a somewhat niche and clunky game has turned into a solid (albeit still flawed) platformer that doesn’t feel out of place, nor inferior to most indie releases out there. Just stay away from the emulated original that comes as a freebie.

 

The restored visuals of Zool Redimensioned are on par with any other high-quality pixel-based indie platformer. Despite the low resolution, the Mega Drive version looks excellent for its day.

Zool has a limited number of movements at his disposal, and some of them seem unnecessary. However, the controls are much superior than those seen in the original game from the 1990s.

Although Zool Redimensioned does not have a large soundtrack, the few songs that are provided are much more catchy than I expected.

Although the original Mega Drive ROM included in this collection is very poor, the newly remastered version is quite enjoyable, even if it is a little too easy and short.

Final Score: 7.5

On PC, Zool Redimensioned is now available.

On PC, Zool Redimensioned is now available.

The publisher sent me a copy of Zool Redimensioned.

As an example:

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Look at them!

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