Familiar platforming action
Gremlin were one of the biggest publishers of the 1980s and 1990s, with classics like Thing on a Spring, Monty Mole and the Premier Manager series to their name. Zool marked a foray into the world of high speed platformers and followed the release and massive success of Sonic the Hedgehog and if you can ignore the blatant commercialisation of a certain lollipop, it remains an enjoyable, if less than classic, game. Zool is a pure platformer which relies on fast, slick action and colourful graphics but also throws in a set of mini-games to add appeal. Zool himself is a fairly charmless sort of character, a bit over designed and self-consciously cool, and is a ninja from the Nth dimension, in a fun intro sequence, falls to Earth and who must make his way through a series of seven lands in order to become a true ninja of the highest ranking. Fortunately these lands are less than realistic and are instead quite impressive cartoon-style fantasy lands full of robots, candy and suspiciously familiar giant mushrooms (is that Mario I can hear calling?). What follows is a fast-paced but fairly straightforward slice of platform action that doesn't really do anything new for the genre but is undeniably fun anyway. The graphics are suitably vibrant with plenty of variation in the environments and which lick along at a fair old pace, while the music and sound effects are also pacy and exciting. The hidden minigames add in some appeal for secret hunters but really Zool is one for diehard platform fans only, offering as it does some very familiar gameplay. Rayman, Crash Bandicoot or even something like Alfred Chicken are more worthwhile investments of your time.