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Zoop (Genesis) artwork

Zoop (Genesis) review


"It's always reassuring to know that the game developers are excited about their product. Their confidence that the game is good brings confidence to us, as consumers. Sometimes, though, developers get so excited that they stop seeming confident and start to delve into the realms of sheer barminess. Such over-eagerness is seen on the packaging of Zoop for the Sega Mega Drive. The back cover blurb promises ''brain-burning action'' and ''Intensifying gameplay''. Blimey! Furthermore, reading the ins..."



It's always reassuring to know that the game developers are excited about their product. Their confidence that the game is good brings confidence to us, as consumers. Sometimes, though, developers get so excited that they stop seeming confident and start to delve into the realms of sheer barminess. Such over-eagerness is seen on the packaging of Zoop for the Sega Mega Drive. The back cover blurb promises ''brain-burning action'' and ''Intensifying gameplay''. Blimey! Furthermore, reading the instruction manual unveils even more sheer off-the-wall antics - the page about powerups comes with a dotted line so that you can cut it out for reference while playing! While this thoughtfulness is welcome, although irrelevant - the book is thin anyway, so you can just keep it in front of you if you can't remember what each powerup does (and how hard can it be, there are only four), it does make you wonder what the actual game would be like if so much time was spent on the packaging.

A quick play reveals that probably not too much time was spent on the game. Being, as it is, a puzzle game, Zoop is not the most complex of titles (what successful puzzle game is, eh?). Basically, in the centre of the screen is a box holding your character (an arrow, in case you were wondering). From all sides of the screen approach rows of that puzzle game staple, different coloured blobs. If a blob reaches your square it's game over (or, as the game puts it, the 'game has ended'). To stop the onslaught of the colourful crumbs you zap them. When you do this you swap colour with them (for example, if the arrow is orange and you zap a green blob, the blob becomes orange and the arrow green). Zap a blob of the same colour as your arrow and it disappears (if there are several blobs of that colour consecutively they too disappear). Simple? Well, yes actually. The inclusion of powerups does add a little to the mix, but like putting ice and lemon in your coke, while what this does add makes the whole experience taste a little better, it really would be just as good without them. That analogy didn't work very well, did it.... The powerups on offer are standard enough - proximity bombs eliminate all shapes touching the shape you zap, line bombs wipe out a whole row, colour bombs take out all the shapes of one colour on that side of the screen, and collecting five Bonus Springs wipes the screen clean of all the blobs. Like I said, it adds a little more to the tactical side of the game, but it really isn't a vital part of the proceedings.

There are two game modes on offer - level and continual. Level sees the screen cleared each time you earn a high enough score to proceed to the next level (duh), while continual sees all the blobs still in play remain when you finish the level. The inclusion of levels at all, though, is pretty needless, as all it amounts to is a change of background. There are allegedly 99 levels in level mode, although I'm rubbish at the game, so I'll have to take the developers' word for that, but the main attraction is obviously the continual mode. Here you'll see most puzzle game clichès appear bar one. The game starts off being pretty easy, but soon there are more and more blobs to worry about, and they start getting faster and faster, and the game gets much more frantic and tense and then.... it's over. You've notched up a respectable enough score, and you switch the machine off. There lies the problem. The best puzzle games out there (Tetris, Bust-A-Move etc.) have that addictive quality - you'll keep playing for hours trying to beat that score you set the day, week, or even month before. Zoop doesn't have that. While it is great fun, you'll have a single go, and that'll be enough. And while you may want to do this several times a day, you'll never be playing for more than twenty minutes at a time. And sadly, due to the simple nature of the genre, addictiveness is vital to puzzle games. It is absent here, meaning that Zoop will be forgotten in five or ten years time (face it, it was never exactly renowned in the first place), whereas office computers across the world will still have a copy of Tetris on there somewhere.

For what it's worth, the graphics and sound are pretty good. The tunes won't have you humming along, but there are plenty that are worse out there. They're cheerful and jaunty, and start to seem as if they are mocking you when things go wrong, just as any good puzzle game music should. The graphics too are bright, chunky and colourful, as any puzzle game should be. It's all very by-the-book really, and that's Zoop's downfall. It's all so standard and predictable that it'd never be a classic anyway, but the fact that they forgot to make it really compelling is the nail in it's brightly-coloured coffin. A real shame, as it's fun enough, it's just.... ordinary.

Rating: 7/10

tomclark's avatar
Community review by tomclark (March 06, 2004)

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