|Zool: Ninja of the Nth Dimension|
Cover art used for the Amiga and DOS versions
(CD32) Neil Biggin
|Release date(s)||October 1992|
|Distribution||Floppy disks, CD-ROM, ROM cartridge|
Zool was intended as a rival to Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog. It was heavily hyped upon its initial release, including being bundled with the newly launched Amiga 1200, although not the AGA version with enhanced graphics which followed later. In 2000 the game was re-released as part of The Best of Gremlin compilation.
The game is a pure platform game, relying on smooth, fast moving gameplay, colorful graphics and a soundtrack by Patrick Phelan which overlaps with the Lotus 3 soundtrack and inspired several modern electro/techno remixes. The game also contains a number of embedded minigames, 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 or finding certain invisible warp points.
George Allen came with the idea of Zool as he was criticized on his previous game Switchblade II for having a lack of enemies. In development, Zool could cast spells to get him out of trouble by collecting potions. For example, Zool could escape from pits with high jump spells and cast a shadow spell to make a clone of him that follows his actions (thus doubling the fire power). In the final version, the spells were replaced with collectible powerups. The very early name for the project was Pootz. Many reviewers assumed that Zool was an ant, although this was refuted in a press release.
The Amiga CD32 version has original red book audio tracks by Neil Biggin and has the option to have both sound effects and music. This and the Acorn Archimedes port are the only two incarnations of the original Amiga version to have this.
Most PC ports are close to the Amiga original but the Mega Drive and Super Nintendo port are very different with different levels which are smaller likely due to shortage of RAM, different graphics and bosses. The SNES port is very buggy with a low horizontal resolution, which makes it easier to run into enemies and being overall a slower game.
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Reviews for the Amiga version of the game were mostly very positive. However, some criticism was aimed at the blatant and pervasive product placement in the game for lollipop company Chupa Chups, in the first three levels (the "Sweet Zone"). Another common criticism of the game was that it was excessively difficult; some contemporary reviewers complained of not being able to get further than the "Music Zone", the second of six worlds. Reviews for other platforms were more mixed.
Zool became the Amiga's 1992 best-selling game, nearly beating the sales of Sonic 2. In 1993, Commodore was interested in the character and wanted the next Zool game to be bundled with their upcoming gaming console Amiga CD32. However, the game was only 40% complete three months before the release of the Amiga CD32 and Gremlin could not make the deadline in time. As a last minute decision by Commodore they decided to bundle the console with Flair Software's Oscar and Millennium's Diggers.