Zool Redimensioned
Gameplay 7
Graphics 7
Sound 8

Zool returns after almost three decades of limbo in a reimagined version of his Megadrive outing. This retro platformer boasts a few improvements compared to the original, including more accessibility options, a zoomed-out view, and level select, but remains true to its roots. Zool Redimensioned also includes an emulated version of the Megadrive game as a bonus and a more challenging “Ultimate Ninja Mode.” Despite these, it is still a short-lived experience that will primarily appeal to fans of the original.

Gameplay: The game is short but offers a nice slice of retro-style platforming entertainment.

Graphics: The new zoomed-out view is great, but the levels still look very cluttered at times, making it hard to spot hazards.

Sound: The audio remains true to the original game with plenty of catchy tunes

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Zool Redimensioned

Developer: Sumo Digital Academy | Publisher: Secret Mode | Release Date: 2021 | Genre: Retro / Platformer | Website: N/A | Purchase: Steam

The nineties were the heyday of the platforming genre, and many characters that have since gone on to become household names were born or refined during this time. Unfortunately, for every Mario and Sonic, there was a slew of anthropomorphic seals, bats, and bobcats that failed to steal their limelight. One of these characters is Zool, a “ninja of the Nth dimension” who tried to go head to head with the 16-bit heavyweights but faded into obscurity after one sequel. Zool Redimensioned brings the ninja out of retirement for a reimagined version of his original adventure. 

According to the comic strip found in the original instruction manual for Zool, which is sadly not included in this version, Zool got caught in a powerful vortex while on a routine recon mission in his spaceship. After crash landing in a world consisting entirely of sweets, Zool is informed that to return home, he must liberate seven worlds from the grasp of the evil Krool and his minions. What follows is a fast-paced platforming adventure where Zool must run, jump, and shoot his way through seven colorful worlds guarded by a weird assortment of enemies.

While Zool didn’t impact consoles much, the Amiga version attained somewhat of a cult status amongst fans. Unfortunately, Redimensioned is based on the Megadrive version, which was not quite as critically acclaimed. Although not quite a remaster of the original, Redimensioned takes the game and spruces it up enough to make it palatable to modern audiences without alienating fans of the original. The goal is still to traverse levels themed around sweets, music, fruit, tools, toys, and more while dispatching enemies like jelly, flying cymbals, toffee apples, and teddy bears. The seven worlds are divided into four levels, each with a boss waiting at the end. One of the things that made the original game quite challenging was the zoomed-in view, which often resulted in getting hit by enemies before even seeing them. Redimensioned addresses this issue with a new zoomed-out view that gives players a better look at their surroundings. For those who find this too easy, selecting a wide-screen version of the 1992 view or a midpoint between the two extremes is possible. 

Unlike typical platformers, which require players to run from left to right, the levels in Zool are more maze-like. Most levels also have vertical elements to traverse, but thanks to the zoomed-out view, it’s now much easier to see where to go. The game’s overall difficulty is also much lower, but players can choose between two different modes. Newcomers can opt for the Redimensioned mode, which adds a double jump to Zool’s arsenal and removes the requirement to gather a certain amount of collectibles before the exit for each level becomes accessible. In contrast, the “Ultimate Ninja Mode” is a little more faithful to the original, removes the double jump, and reinstates the collectible requirements for a more challenging experience. 

Visually, Zool looks decent, but the levels can sometimes be a little too colorful. The themes for each area are quite varied but not very cohesive, and the graphics can sometimes be pretty cluttered. Even with the zoomed-out view, it is sometimes hard to spot hazards like spikes before blundering into them. Enabling the CRT filter makes for a more authentic experience but can also make it harder to spot smaller enemies and traps. However, one of the visual elements that most fans of the original will immediately spot is the lack of Chupa Chups. These sweets used to be plastered all over the game’s first area, but sadly, they are no longer present due to licensing issues. Players interested in seeing just how far Zool has come in the decades since its original release can check out the emulated version of the Megadrive game included in the package. However, purists will likely be disappointed that it is not the superior Amiga version. 

The Zool soundtrack is decent and adds to the game’s old-school charm. Players can independently adjust the music and sound effects volumes and toggle between stereo and mono mode. Since it is a platform game, we prefer a controller, but Zool also plays well with a keyboard. In addition to running and jumping, Zool can shoot at enemies, jump on their heads, and perform a spin attack or slide. The original game was notorious for how fast it was and how slippery the controls felt, and this is still true for the Redimensioned version. The inclusion of a double jump makes things a lot easier, and the game is also quite generous with its checkpoints. Losing a life returns players to the last checkpoint while losing all their lives means restarting from the stage’s beginning. The levels are all very short, though, so it never becomes tedious.

Something sure to annoy some players is the knockback effect if Zool gets hit, which is quite severe. The ensueing invincibility period is also relatively short, so it is possible to get hit repeatedly depending on how many enemies and hazards are nearby. Zool does have more bars of health than in the original game, and there are plenty of power-ups like shields, bombs that can kill all enemies onscreen, and even a “Shadow Zool” to double your firepower. Accessibility options include invincibility, infinite jumps, and auto fire, but enabling any of these will turn off the Steam achievements. This is perfect for players who simply want to complete the game while still giving more experienced players a challenge to work towards. The inclusion of a level select screen also makes it more convenient to go back and find all the secrets and collectibles. This means that while the game is short, it is replayable, and there are even a few multiplayer mini-games like Zools Gold, Rool of Zool, and Ball Brawl. Finally, there’s a Beastipedia with entries for every single enemy in the game. 

Zool Redimensioned is a pure platformer, which means it’ll feel a little barebones to modern players used to roguelike, Metroidvania, or puzzle platformers. Fans of the original will enjoy seeing the return of the ninja gremlin, but they would most certainly have preferred including the Amiga version and not the Megadrive. The game was short enough for us to complete in one sitting but addictive enough that we returned for some of the achievements. Better and longer platformers are available for players who have no nostalgic attachment to Zool, but fans of the little guy should definitely check it out.

System Requirements

  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Processor: i3-4th Generation
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Integrated
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Integrated
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system

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