:"The Ghostbusters character is spelled Zuul."Infobox VG
title = Zool

developer = Gremlin Graphics
publisher = Gremlin Graphics
designer =
engine =
released = October 1992
genre = Platformer
modes = Single player
ratings =
platforms = Amiga, Atari ST, Game Boy, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, SNES, Master System, Amiga CD32, PC, Acorn Archimedes, Jaguar, Arcade
media =
requirements =
input =

"Zool" is a British computer game originally produced for the Amiga by Gremlin Graphics as a rival to Sega's "Sonic the Hedgehog". It was heavily hyped upon its initial release in 1992, including being bundled with the newly launched Amiga 1200, although not the AGA version with enhanced graphics which followed later.

Gremlin said that the name "Zool" did not refer to the supernatural entity Zuul from the film Ghostbusters.

Zool is "a ninja from the nth dimension" who is forced to land on Earth. In order to gain ninja ranking he has to pass six lands. The game is a pure arcade platform game, relying on smooth, fast moving gameplay, colorful graphics and a popular soundtrack by Patrick Phelan which overlaps with the Lotus 3 soundtrack and has inspired several modern electro/techno remixes.

"Zool" contains a number of embedded games, including several arcade games, a scrolling space shooter and a game accessible only by making Zool play a certain tune on an in-game piano.

A Zool coin-op was released in 1993 to cash in on the hype surrounding the Amiga release. It was not well distributed and is now not widely remembered.

Reviews were extremely positive, possibly partly because the need was felt for the Amiga to have a flagship game to rival Sonic. However some criticism was aimed at the blatant and pervasive advertisements in the game for Chupa Chups, the lollipop company, displayed in the first three levels (known as 'Sweet Zone'). Product placement was quite fashionable on some 16-bit games though, for example Penguin biscuits in Robocod and Lucozade in Superfrog. In Cool Spot the title character was based upon the red circle featured on 7-Up cans and the sponsorship of 'McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure' is evident from its title.

Another frequent criticism of the game was that it was excessively difficult. Some contemporary reviewers complained of not being able to get further than the second level (Music Zone).

Zool was also ported to the RISC OS platform.

Zool 2

The sequel, entitled "Zool 2", was very similar gameplay-wise, but with more cartoonish and detailed graphics and an attempt at a plot. It again received generally high review scores, but did not make an impact the way its predecessor had despite arguably being the better game as the difficulty level had been curbed and the controls were more responsive. A possible reason for the game's relative lack of attention was that by this stage the system that Zool was most associated with, the Amiga, was in decline as a gaming format.

The nemesis in the game was named Mental Block, a play on the British English use of the word "mental", a colloquial synonym for crazy. (In the comic book explaining the plot, located in the manual, Mental Block's function was to stifle the world's imagination, causing rampant boredom. This is a play on what many artists and writers refer to as "Writer's Block" or "Artist's Block".)

Zool 2 added the option to play as Zool's female counterpart, Zooz. The two characters played similarly, although there were some subtle differences in their abilities. Most notably, Zool could destroy parts of the scenery that Zooz couldn't, and vice versa, resulting in a slightly different route through the level.

Zool 2, like the original, featured several mini games. The most common was a version of Breakout which used Zool's two-headed pet dog as a paddle.

Zool as a mascot

By the time Zool was released in 1992 both the Sega Mega Drive and Nintendo's SNES had been available for some time and both were selling well, thanks in no small part to the popularity of their respective mascots Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario. Mindful of the fact that Commodore's Amiga was being slowly but surely pushed out of the 16-bit games market it had had a large hand in establishing, magazines dedicated to the Amiga began hyping Zool as a potential mascot for the machine. The sense that Zool might represent a genuine killer app for the Amiga may have accounted for some of the massively impressive review scores it received.

Ultimately, due to Commodore not owning the rights to the character in the same way that Nintendo and Sega did with their mascots, Zool was released on the very machines it had been intended to compete with. Reviews of the Mega Drive and SNES versions, however, were lukewarm - possibly because those systems already boasted a much larger selection of quality platform games than the Amiga. Zool 2 was not converted to these formats but did appear on the Atari Jaguar.

With the mainstream Amiga market collapsing (a situation hastened further by Commodore's demise in the wake of the failure of their Amiga CD32 format) and console owners proving immune to the franchise's charms, no further Zool games were made.

External links

* [http://uk.gamespot.com/arcade/action/zool/index.html A picture of the little-known Zool coin-op]
* [http://eager.back2roots.org/DATA/Z/ZOOL.HTML Zool] Amiga version info page
* [http://www.classicgaming.com/amigareviews/zool1.htm Zool 1 Reviews] from "Amiga Format", "Amiga Joker" and "CU Amiga"
* [http://www.classicgaming.com/amigareviews/zool2.htm Zool 2 Reviews] from "Amiga Format", "Amiga Joker", "Amiga Power" and "CU Amiga"

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