Zoom! (Genesis) review
If there ever was a rhyme or reason behind Zoom! it’s long been lost to the mists of time. There’s this odd hybrid of a pig and a walking beachball that’s seemingly obsessed with complete squares, and, to this end, he skates along bolded lines in a set grid, hoping to turn the inky black lines neon green. He’s very excited about tracing the four sides of a complete cube; not only does turning the entire grid into a complete collection of flashing tiles grant access to the next stage, but also gives birth to a joyous cry of “C’MON, BOY!”.
Taking control of the cube-obsessed freak is challenge enough; corners need deft timing to turn correctly less they’re surged past before you can react, leading you to constantly retread lines you’ve already converted. This less-than-ideal trait proves unhealthy to the always ticking time-limit. Let the clock count down too low, and your odd avatar will start fidgeting noticeably, panicking at his expiring timeframe as the music drops into a more dramatic tone. It also sends in extra nasties to try and halt your euphoric progress.
Nasties like the SCALEY GREEN HAND and the JELLIFISH THAT LOOKS KINDA LIKE A BIRTHDAY CAKE do not like cubes. They club together to halt your noble quest. Do not let them win.
The first few stages offer you a wide open area with plenty of space to avoid the loose smattering of foes that charge you down, but more claustrophobic grids await a successful player. Single-lined corridors are infested with sentient cleaning products that you either avoid with a well-timed leap (meaning that part of the line you trample remains untraced) or pelt with a limited number of bouncy balls. It’s like Pac-Man without the walls. With jumping and projectile attacks. And strangely chilling cries of “C’MON, BOY!” whenever you're on a roll.
It’s an old-fashioned points-rush game at heart, and the score is easy to manipulate. Trace your lines with a goal in mind and a single surge can complete multiple squares granting a significant numeric boost. Collectables often give the same incentive; some exist merely to supply higher digits while others make your life easier. You can slow or stop your relentless pursuers, find stars that warp into mystery items or, if you’re lucky, a feather which floats you serenely to the next stage without further fuss.
The growing complexity of later stages and the promise of higher scores will drive you on, but it does little to starve off the game’s creeping repetitiveness. There’s six chapters to the game, each with six stages, but they all share the same three BGMs meaning that, though the tunes are catchy enough, a serious playthrough will grind them into the ground long before you see the game off. But with even that aside, through the learning curve dials up the challenge appropriately, Zoom! is a simple game that offers no variation. There’s squares to be traced, and there are odd enemies that want to stop you. Some of these can teleport, some can erase the lines you draw, but all of them hate you.
The grids change, but the game never does. There’s no save function and no passwords system that allows you to pick up where you left off. There’s a two player mode, but this often clutters up anything but the easy-to-navigate stages with the extra foes that materialise to see off your playing mate. There’s just the line to run. Nothing more.
Well, there is one more thing. There’s the lingering war-cry of your little mutant avatar.
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