Zoop

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Zoop
Sega Genesis Zoop cover art.jpg
Genesis cover art
Developer(s)Hookstone Productions
PanelComp
(SNES/Genesis)
Electric Spectacle Productions (Jaguar)
Publisher(s)
Director(s)Jim Hanson
Producer(s)I. Kenneth Miller
Designer(s)Jason McGann
Programmer(s)John Rocke
Artist(s)Ian J. Bowden
Malcolm Cooper
Peter Tattersall
Composer(s)Bob Scumaci
Mark Davis
Brian L. Schmidt[6]
Platform(s)Genesis, Game Boy, Game Gear, Macintosh, DOS, PlayStation, Saturn, Super NES, Jaguar
Release
1995
  • Genesis
    • NA: 1 June 1995
    • EU: 28 October 1995
    Super NES
    DOS
    • NA: 30 September 1995
    • BRA: 1995
    Macintosh
    PlayStation
    • NA: 31 October 1995
    • JP: 22 November 1996[1]
    Game Boy
    • NA: 5 November 1995
    • EU: 1995
    • JP: 31 January 1997[2]
    Game Gear
    Jaguar
    Saturn
Genre(s)Puzzle
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer (only on Game Boy)

Zoop is a puzzle video game originally developed by Hookstone Productions and published by Viacom New Media for many platforms in 1995. It has similarities to Taito's 1989 arcade game Plotting (known as Flipull in other territories and on other systems) but Zoop runs in real-time instead. Players are tasked with eliminating pieces that spawn from one of the sides of the screen before they reach the center of the playfield. By pointing at a piece and shooting it, the player can either swap it with the current player color and thus arrange the same color pieces in a row or column, or match the color.

A month before release, Zoop was one of four games played in the preliminary rounds of the Blockbuster World Video Game Championship II competition, a rare instance of an as-yet-unreleased game being used in a video game competition.[7][8][9] The game was published for the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, DOS, Macintosh, PlayStation, Game Boy, Sega Saturn, and Atari Jaguar. Shortly after its release, to spark interest in the game, the SNES version was offered as part of a limited "rent one, get one free" promotion by Blockbuster.[10]

Gameplay[edit]

Gameplay screenshot of the Sega Genesis version of Zoop showing the fourth stage

Zoop is a real-time puzzle game, like Plotting, where the player controls a triangle in the center of the screen. Every second (or more often in advanced levels), a piece comes in from the side and possibly pushes other pieces forward. Two consecutive pieces will never come in from the same quadrant, and runs of consecutive identical pieces on one row are longer, statistically, than one might expect. If a piece falls into the center square, the game is over.[11]

If the player shoots a piece of the same color as their triangle, it will be "zooped" (cleared) and points are earned. If the piece behind the target piece is also of the same color, it is also "zooped". The same goes for the next piece, and so on. If a piece of a different color from the player's current piece is shot, the player's piece will switch colors with it. This is also what happens when a piece of a different color is encountered after zooping one or more pieces of the same color. When the quota of "zooped" pieces is met, the game speeds up, and (before level 10) the background changes. Various special pieces do different things, such as a proximity bomb (shaped like a lightning bolt) that blows up pieces in a 3×3 area centered at the target piece, or a line bomb (often shaped like a gear) that clears a whole target line of pieces.

To make gameplay more difficult, the game also employed what was referred to as "Opti-Challenge" backgrounds. As the levels progressed, the backgrounds would become increasingly distracting. Early on, this would involve the use of contrasting colors and increasingly intricate color schemes. Background patterns would also become more intricate and would make subtle use of asymmetrical elements. Although the "Opti-Challenge" technique of the game was used as a selling point, very little information exists about the technique itself, and no other game on the market has ever claimed to use "Opti-Challenge" graphics. The sound effects have a cartoonish tone to match the vivid colors used through the stages, while the music is smooth jazz and "evolves" with the game. As the levels get harder, the music becomes more tense, adding to the fast-paced atmosphere of the game.

Development and release[edit]

Along with Dracula Unleashed, Zoop is one of the few original properties that were released by Viacom New Media, who only published games that are based on existing intellectual properties (including Viacom Media Networks' programming) until their closure in 1997. The title was extensively marketed by Viacom, who wanted the game to replicate the level of success of Tetris, which can be evidenced by its release on many platforms, as well as the game's slogan, "America's Largest Killer of Time!". Before it was officially released to the general public, the game was featured and played during the preliminary rounds on the Blockbuster World Video Game Championship II competition.[7][8][9]

The team at Hookstone Productions stated in an interview with Spanish magazine PC Manía that Zoop spent several years in development and that the concept proved to be difficult to explain to their producers and as such, the team presented a nearly-finished build.[12] The PC was chosen as the lead platform, despite the development team never having done anything for the PC before.[12] According to Aaron Fothergill, one of the programmers for the Atari Jaguar version of Zoop, Electric Spectacle Productions wanted the Jaguar version to have more advanced visuals than the PlayStation version, but Viacom requested the developer to disable the extra graphics to make the PlayStation version more appealing than the Jaguar version.[13][14] As of 2018, the rights to Zoop are held by Viacom International.

Both the Genesis and Super NES versions of Zoop are identical in terms of gameplay, aside from graphical and audio differences between the two. The DOS version of the game has support for various sound cards, and it features wavetable-like MIDI music. The PlayStation version was released a month after the system was launched, and it features more advanced visuals compared to the 16-bit versions. The Game Boy port is the only version across all platforms that features a multiplayer mode. It also received a port to the Atari Jaguar that was developed by Electric Spectacle Productions and published by Atari Corporation on 5 January 1996,[4][3] with graphics that are more in line with the previously released versions but sporting a more jazz-style soundtrack. It was one of the last releases for the Jaguar. Zoop was also released for the Sega Saturn in Japan only by Media Quest on 29 November 1996.[5] The Saturn version uses the same enhanced visuals as the PlayStation port.

Reception[edit]

The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly criticized the Game Gear version as having poor audio even by Game Gear standards but otherwise were divided about the game. One of them said "it is more like work than anything else, and it certainly isn't addictive", two of them said it lacks anything special but is still addictive and enjoyable for players of all skill levels, and the fourth called it "a must-try".[18]

Reviewing the SNES version, a critic for Next Generation found the gameplay to be too complicated, concluding that "it's not bad really, but the idea isn't that intuitive, and once you get past the learning curve it lacks the addictive quality this kind of game needs."[25] GamePro's The Axe Grinder similarly said that, while the game is fun and has good graphics and music, it lacks the addictive pull that an action puzzler needs to distinguish itself.[40]

Sega Saturn Magazine (previously Sega Magazine) gave the Genesis/Mega Drive version a 62%, saying the game "has the curious compulsiveness of Tetris to a degree", but that it is overshadowed by more complex and graphically impressive games then on the market.[35] Cover Girl of GamePro was pleased with the music and graphics, particularly the use of eye-tricking background contrasts in the later levels. She found the level select and five difficulty modes broaden the accessibility, but criticized that the game sends the player back to the beginning whenever they lose. She concluded that while falling short of classics like Tetris, Zoop is an enjoyable enough puzzler to merit a buy.[41]

Reviewing the Jaguar version, GamePro noted that it made no changes from previous versions of the game. They said of the game itself: "A classic? No. Addictive? Yes."[42] Next Generation similarly stated that "while Zoop is an enjoyable game, it's not exactly the second puzzling. ... Games like Tetris and Bust-a-Move have undeniable magic, and while Zoop has the mechanics of a great puzzle game, it lacks that magic." They praised the pace of the action, in that the game demands the player's full attention from the beginning.[27]

GamePro's brief review of the PlayStation version called it "an uncomplicated puzzle game that's only slightly hampered by squirrelly controls" and "a great addiction for puzzle fans."[43] A brief review from Next Generation commented, "Action puzzle games should be simple but addicting; Zoop is complicated but kind of compulsive."[26] IGN rated the PlayStation version of the game a 5/10, stating, "Zoop has all the makings of a good puzzle game, it just doesn't deliver the goods."[24]

Entertainment Weekly gave the DOS version an A- and said it wasn't as addictive but was as much fun as Tetris.[30]

The game was awarded "Best Puzzle Game" in the 1995 Nintendo Power Awards.[38]

Legacy[edit]

In September 2003, the trademark renewal for Zoop was cancelled.[44]

Cultural influence[edit]

The game was featured in 1995 in series 5 episode 4 of the British TV series GamesMaster.[45]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "PlayStation Soft > 1996". GAME Data Room. Archived from the original on 17 August 2018. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  2. ^ "GAMEBOY Soft > 1997". GAME Data Room. Archived from the original on 13 January 2018. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b Castle, Justin (21 July 2018). "Historical Atari Jaguar UK Magazine Advert/Reviews Collection". Issuu. p. 340. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 January 2019. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b Smith, Jason. "Atari Jaguar Timeline". jaguarsector.com. Archived from the original on 29 June 2013. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b "SEGA SATURN Soft > 1996" (in Japanese). GAME Data Room. Archived from the original on 23 September 2018. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  6. ^ "Zoop ( USA)".
  7. ^ a b "Blockbuster World Video Game Championship II 1995 Strategy Guide". GamePro. No. 81. IDG. June 1995. pp. 121–135.
  8. ^ a b The Creature Feature (December 1995). "Special Feature - Blockbuster Champs Invade GamePro!". GamePro. No. 87. IDG. pp. 50–52.
  9. ^ a b G., Evan (20 June 2009). "Donkey Kong Country Competition Cart". snescentral.com. Archived from the original on 23 September 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  10. ^ Jeanne (10 June 2004). "Zoop - Ad Blurbs". MobyGames. Archived from the original on 8 February 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  11. ^ "Full Coverage - Zoop". Nintendo Power. No. 78. Nintendo of America. November 1995. pp. 76–77.
  12. ^ a b "Primera Línea - Entre Bytes: Zoop - Algo diferente". PC Manía (in Spanish). Vol. 4, no. 38. HobbyPress. December 1995. p. 14.
  13. ^ Wallett, Adrian (12 October 2018). "Aaron Fothergill (Amiga/Atari) – Interview". arcadeattack.co.uk. Archived from the original on 12 November 2018. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  14. ^ Contreras, Chris (13 July 2019). "A moment with Aaron Fothergill -Zoop, Magic Carpet". 3do.cdinteractive.co.uk. Archived from the original on 28 October 2021. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  15. ^ Alan Weiss, Brett. "Zoop (Genesis) - Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  16. ^ Alan Weiss, Brett. "Zoop (SNES) - Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  17. ^ Couper, Chris. "Zoop (PlayStation) - Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Review Crew: Zoop". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 76. Sendai Publishing. November 1995. p. 52. Archived from the original on 16 November 2018. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  19. ^ "ズープ (セガサターン) - ファミ通.com". Famitsu (in Japanese). No. 416. ASCII. 6 December 1996. p. 33. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  20. ^ "Viewpoint - Zoop - Playstation". GameFan. Vol. 4, no. 1. Shinno Media. January 1996. p. 18.
  21. ^ "Retro Review: Zoop (SNES)". Game Informer. No. 187. Sunrise Publications. November 2008.
  22. ^ Baggatta, Patrick (November 1995). "Super NES - Review - Zoop". Game Players. No. 77. Signal Research. p. 78.
  23. ^ Dulin, Ron (2 May 2000). "Zoop Review - Once you do break through the initial frustration, Zoop will gradually become an addiction". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  24. ^ a b "Zoop Review". IGN. 26 November 1996. Archived from the original on 25 July 2018. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  25. ^ a b "Finals - Super NES - Zoop". Next Generation. No. 11. Imagine Media. November 1995. p. 191.
  26. ^ a b "Every PlayStation Game Played, Reviewed, and Rated - Zoop". Next Generation. No. 25. Imagine Media. January 1997. p. 60.
  27. ^ a b "Finals - Jaguar - Zoop". Next Generation. No. 17. Imagine Media. May 1996. p. 94.
  28. ^ "Now Playing - Zoop". Nintendo Power. No. 78. Nintendo of America. November 1995. p. 107.
  29. ^ Snyder, Frank; Chapman, Ted; Honeywell, Steve (1996). "Zoop Is Good Food". Computer Game Review. Ziff-Davis. Archived from the original on 21 December 1996. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  30. ^ a b Strauss, Bob (10 November 1995). "Article - Zoop". Entertainment Weekly. No. 300. Meredith Corporation. Archived from the original on 3 September 2018. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  31. ^ Marcus; Gus (December 1995). "Megadrive Review - Zoop". Mean Machines Sega. No. 38. EMAP. p. 85.
  32. ^ "Punto De Mira...y además: Bueno En Cualquier Forma - Zoop (Mega Drive)". Micromanía (in Spanish). Vol. 3, no. 11. HobbyPress. December 1995. p. 87.
  33. ^ F.D.L. (December 1995). "Zoop - La Sencillez Al Poder". Micromanía (in Spanish). Vol. 3, no. 11. HobbyPress. pp. 108–109.
  34. ^ "Mega Drive – ProReview: Zoop". Sega Pro. No. 52. Paragon Publishing. December 1995. p. 55.
  35. ^ a b "Sega 16-Bit Magazine - Review - Zoop". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 2. EMAP. December 1995. p. 92.
  36. ^ "Zoop Back to basics?". Ultimate Future Games. No. 13. Future Publishing. December 1995. p. 75.
  37. ^ "Reviews - SNES - Zoop". VideoGames - The Ultimate Gaming Magazine. No. 82. L.F.P., Inc. November 1995. p. 94.
  38. ^ a b "The Nintendo Power Awards - 95 Winners - Best Puzzle Game". Nintendo Power. No. 84. Nintendo of America. May 1996. p. 42.
  39. ^ "Special - Jahres Überflieger '95 - Hype Des Jahres". Power Play (in German). No. 95. Future-Verlag. February 1996. p. 170.
  40. ^ The Axe Grinder (December 1995). "ProReview: Super NES - Zoop". GamePro. No. 87. IDG. p. 104.
  41. ^ Cover Girl (December 1995). "ProReview: Genesis - Zoop". GamePro. No. 87. IDG. p. 86.
  42. ^ "Quick Hits: Zoop". GamePro. No. 81. IDG. April 1996. p. 89. Archived from the original on 4 January 2019. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  43. ^ "Quick Hits: Zoop". GamePro. No. 80. IDG. March 1996. p. 73. Archived from the original on 4 January 2019. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  44. ^ Hallie, Michelena (20 September 2003). "ZOOP - Trademark Details". justia.com. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  45. ^ "GamesMaster Series 5 Episode 4". YouTube. 27 June 2018. Archived from the original on 5 January 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2018.

External links[edit]