Upping The Ant(e) In Zool Redimensioned

He's back, only 30 years later, is Zool Redimensioned as good as the glory days? Perhaps it's even better...?

What’s the longest you’ve taken to complete a game? Me? Around 30 years. When Zool came out in 1992, me and my Amiga posse (we never called it that) were telling all the Mega Drive owners that that hedgehog had better watch out. It was super fast and rivalled, if not demolished, the competition.

Only it didn’t. Zool was hard. Super hard. This had a lot to do with the visuals – parallax-type backgrounds and more colours than a packet of novelty jelly beans; even as a kid, it was a bit too bright. On top of that, you couldn’t see where you were going as the levels were zoomed in. Sure, it looked good like that, but it wasn’t as playable as, say… New Zealand Story.

That’s changed with Zool Redimensioned – a reboot/reworking that I thought had just come out but launched last year on PC. Finger on the pulse. Nevertheless, I thought I’d give it a go to a) relive the glory days of the Amiga and b) see if all those years paid off, and I can finish the games from my childhood.

Zool Redimensioned Review - Toy Story
Toy Story. Source: Steam

Zool Redimensioned Review

Developed by Sumo Digital Academy, it’s the same Zool game from the 90s, only they’ve added a few trainers (God Mode anyone?), kept the original style of play where it’s zoomed in and with limited jumps, and there’s even a bonus Sega Mega Drive version of the game thrown in for any nostalgic fans craving for the original, or those keen to play the original.

In Zool Redimensioned, you play the titular character – an intergalactic ninja ant from the Nth Dimension. Catchy, ain’t it? Dropped off by your partner Zooz, you must defeat your nemesis (by way of other bosses), Krool. It’s a classic 90s platformer without any cutscenes, repetitive themed worlds that are essentially reskinned levels, and the controls are way off. Only one of those is a lie.

Gamers more accustomed to rogue-likes and extravagant stories may be put out a little by this, but this is precisely what platformers played like back in the day, and aside from some changes in character modelling, you couldn’t tell the difference between a lot of them, and I still love it. Think Blues BrothersJames Pond… all those classics. Here we go again, but the difference is those controls: they’re super tight.

Zool Redimensioned Review - Circus freak
Circus freak. Source: Steam

Zoom Reimagined

I can’t recall if the original game played like this, but Zool Redimensioned is a precision platformer built for speed runs, and in that regard, it couldn’t be more contemporary. Not a fan of the original game (as I found it too hard), I played the developer’s reimagined version. It’s the same game, but the viewpoint means you can see everything on screen and plan your routes and not wing it. I can’t recall a platform game of late where I steamed through with such finesse. No, that’s not my skills, but a testament to the jumping mechanics. Yay – double jump!

Though the seven worlds are essentially themed A-B routes, there’s enough replay value to a) beat your times and b) locate all the secrets (and vast hidden achievements) – though locating all the collectables is straightforward enough if you’re not doing a speed run. I played Zool Redimensoned entirely on the Steam Deck, and it worked perfectly, though do note that if you aim to do the same, making out some of the items (size-wise) can be a trifle challenging.

Whether you loved the original or not, Zool Redimensioned is well worth a look for fans of old-school platform fans – especially those with a penchant for speed runs. The visuals are a nice throwback, if a little garish at times, and the speed at which it all plays out is spot-on. More importantly, on a blatantly personal stance: I’ve finally beaten it, and it was well worth the investment.