Zool Redimensioned – PS4 Review 1

While the 16-bit era’s biggest successes were Nintendo’s SNES and the Sega Megadrive, many gamers spent their formative years with a Commodore Amiga and, let’s admit it, a stack of pirated games on cheap floppy discs that they got from some sketchy guy who ran a computer shop that is definitely not there anymore. And where Nintendo had Mario and Sega had Sonic as their mascots, all the other 16-bit machine manufacturers were trying to get their own versions and while these never quite stuck, for a while Zool was the Amiga’s best hope.

In Zool you played as the titular ant who had come to Earth from another dimension and had to beat seven levels in order to be graded as a ninja. So, okay, the plot’s not really crucial here.  But that’s not what matters.  This version of the game gives you the original game, a toned down (and more playable) version which includes a handy double jump option and a ‘Party Mode’ which gives you access to three local multiplayer mini-games. The new version of the game gets top billing and is definitely the way to play.

Each of Zool‘s seven levels is split into four sub-stages and punctuated by a boss battle at the end. The zones are all themed. Where the opening level is based around sweets (albeit now stripped of the original game’s association with Chupa Chups), later levels are based on tools, music, fairgrounds and so on.  There’s no real narrative link between them all though and, to be honest, each level really just feels like a re-skin of all the rest of them.

That’s because, regardless of the level, the set up is pretty much the same. You’re in a multi-directional scrolling area that you navigate by running, sliding and jumping. While there are plenty of environmental hazards to rob you of your lives, enemies that’ll shoot you, run into you or generally just get in your way.  The levels aren’t too mazey at first but they do start throwing in a few dead ends later on though and combined with enemies that don’t stay dead, the backtracking might annoy you.

That said, while you could just run to the furthest corner at the right hand side of the level, you are encouraged to pick up the numerous collectibles that litter every part of the level as well as the three larger ones that you’ll need to search out.  That’s a throwback to when people just got a game once in a while and had the attention span and patience to search out every secret they could possibly find in a game.  That adds a degree of value even if it is all stretching things out a little.

But that’s not really the point of this release.  What you get here is a super solid port of a keenly-remembered cult classic and it’s complete with some visual filters and that updated mode that makes the game just so much more playable, not just because of the double jump (which is a god-send) but also because of the zoomed-out camera viewpoint which gives you a much better view of the play area.  In this mode we were finally able to complete the game and that’s what you want.  I’m not here to get thwarted by level three, save that shit for Rainbow Islands or something.  I just want to see the whole game and have fun doing it and Zool Redimensioned provides that experience.

The additional party modes also add a degree of temporary fun for couch PvP buddies with games where you have to collect more items than your enemy or shoot balls into a goal area.  It’s not going to hold your friends’ attentions for long but it’s a cool addition.

The only downside of the porting process is to do with the visuals.  Zool comes from an era where having under 5,000 colours available to you seemed like a luxury and the game was keen to use as many of the primary, secondary and tertiary ones as possible with no real consideration as to whether or not the visuals are clear enough to support the rather speedy gameplay.  Now when you combine those issues with THE WORST SCANLINE SIMULATION WE’VE EVER SEEN and that’s a real mess on the screen.  Turning of the scanlines was definitely the best choice but at best Zool can be described as ‘quite messy.’

But this release represents a pure and improved port of a classic and while your kids might not be lured away from whatever F2P rubbish they’re addicted to by its retro charms, this might be a fun way to spend some parent alone time before they start crying for your attention.

Zool Redimensioned
7 Overall
+ a very honest port
+ new mode improves the game
+ party games are a fun bonus
+ Zool pretty much still holds up
- levels can be samey
- visuals are messy
Zool comes with plenty of limitations just because of its 16-bit roots but this is a respectful port that tweaks the original experience in positive ways.

About Richie

Rich is the editor of PlayStation Country. He likes his games lemony and low-budget with a lot of charm. This isn't his photo. That'll be Rik Mayall.

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