Review: Zool Redimensioned

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There is no Dana…

Every console during the Binary Wars of the late 80s/early 90s had to have its big mascot platformer. They needed theirs Super Mario Bros. Sega got theirs in 1991 with sonic the hedgehog after Alex Kidd didn’t quite stack up. NEC had Bonk’s Adventure. 3DO and Atari had virtually no answer, but few fondly remember interactive multiplayer or Jaguar. It eventually spread to personal computers, which was unnecessary because we bought you this computer so you could study, Bobby, and not play your damn Nintendo games on it.

people claimed Commander Keen had finally brought console-style platforms to DOS with its smooth scrolling. Then when the Amiga arrived, it took until 1992 before it was Zool: Nth Dimension Ninja. Take that console fans, the Amiga team finally has a platformer to make you jealous and… Oh. No, the following year it landed on DOS, followed by virtually every other platform on the market.

It was short-lived, but it’s often remembered as a classic Amiga. As such, Sumo Digital Academy has been hard at work preparing this version for re-release: Resized zool.

Zool resized 90s

Resized zool (CP)
Developer: Sumo Digital Academy
Publisher: Secret Mode
Released: August 18, 2021
MSRP: $9.99

The titular character, Zool, is a gremlin ninja who has to… I’m not entirely sure. He goes to Earth and may have to defeat bosses to become a better Ninja. Or maybe it’s to save the multiverse from Krool, his rival.

Note that, while Resized zool is based on the Amiga version, it’s not quite that. The graphics have been redone, allowing the game to be played at a higher resolution. They’re a reasonable facsimile of the original, but I think purists are going to be put off. It’s also not based on the Amiga CD32 version, which featured animated cutscenes, but gameplay-wise it has all the advantages. It tries to stay true to the original version, while bringing it up to modern standards. Kind of.

There are two difficulty modes: Resized and Ultimate Ninja. I was interested in the Resized mode, but then was told in the description that it was for beginners. Have you seen my credentials? I am not a beginner. I’m like that evil kid from The wizard: shame. Pretentious too.

Zool Resized Banana

It’s a good thing that I chose this difficulty because I still found Resized zool be pretty easy. When I finished the final boss, I had a stock of 18 lives and hadn’t seen a game on screen. This is partly due to the camera being so zoomed out. Zool is quick on his feet, so with a bigger view it’s easier to avoid bumping into things.

If you don’t have calloused, muscled fingers like me, there are other accessibility options, including turbo-fire, invincibility, and infinite jumps.

You have the same seven worlds with four levels each to traverse. There are also a number of secret mini-games hidden throughout. It only took me about two and a half hours to drop, but there are additional challenges to complete if you think that’s not enough. They also included an emulated version of Genesis/Mega Drive just because. I don’t know why this particular port was chosen. I guess they had to remove the Chupa Chups logo and that seemed like the best option. May be.

Zool Scaled Steel Balls

Despite how easily I got through the game, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s fast, it’s simple, and the level design is entertaining. The goal is to collect enough collectibles in each level and then find the exit. Usually the exit is on the far right of the stage, but you often have to take different paths to get there. There are three large collectibles in each level to find, but they are not required to progress. In fact, if you’re playing on “Rescaled” difficulty, collectibles aren’t necessary at all.

As required by law, each world is crowned by a boss. These range from generic platforming baddies to absolute nightmare fuel. Why does the banana bleed when you pull it? They’re not bad, as far as bosses go, and when I lost a life, it was usually on one of them. Some of them throw curveballs that can catch you off guard, but I don’t think there are any that will cook your noodles.

On that note, the game ends on a terrific anti-climax. Not only is the last world rather mundane and completely in line with previous worlds, but the end boss isn’t very intimidating. Resized zool just runs its course and ends, basically.

Zool Resized Toys

Resized zool isn’t really anything special, but it’s good retro platforming fun. It was not Sonic and it was not mario. That’s probably why it’s not well known on the other platforms it’s been released on. I would say it’s better than jazz jackrabbit, which would read nicely on the back of the box next to all the Sonic– killer quotes from 1992.

The port is pretty cool too, but that’s going to be an affront to purists. Modern upgrades change the feel of the game tremendously, and while I’d say that’s for the better, it’s also at the expense of challenge. It’s a short and airy experience. A cozy slice of ’90s platforming. It’s up to you if that’s what you need right now, but I certainly enjoyed it.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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