How To Screw Up A Game That Could Have Been Entertaining 101 (Zoop Review, Sega Genesis)

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ZoopWelcome, class; take your seat, and lets get started...

Ugh. Games like this scare the hell out of me, which I end up avoiding. The reason? The print ads stating "I can't stop playing this game!" when it came out, along with those ads also stating of Zoop having 99 levels.

Oh lord. WAY too addicting/too much time will be taken with this one. No thanks!

I remember when the first Funcoland stores opened here in Houston, which Dune also came out for the Genesis right around the same time as well. When I went into one of their stores for the first time, one of the employees was playing it, saying the store had gotten two promotional copies of it, which he got one and his partner got the other. A friend of mine would later confirm that he kept it for two WEEKS over the rental time from Blockbuster, paying for the late fees right up front upon returning it (unlike trying to weasel his way out of it) and that he lost weight while playing the game, barely taking time off just to have some snacks here and there until he went right back to playing it. (Ok, so he was a pathological liar, so I don't know how much of this is true, but you should get my drift on this one.)

The closest I ever came to being so incredibly addicted to a game like the above was when I rented 3-D Blockout, playing that for eight hours during each rental day. However, when I went back months later to rent it again (since Funcoland didn't have it in stock when I went to buy it), I discovered that once it starts getting fast and too difficult to keep up with, it's no longer fun. (Whew, dodged that bullet.)

Due to having a full-time job when this came out, I actually decided to get Zoop anyway at one point. The reason? At the time, I was working for a god-awful attorney who screamed at everyone, people who didn't even directly work for him (/were out of screaming range) quit after only working for just one DAY, and all my off time (evenings, weekends, etc.) FLEW by, and the next thing I knew I was back in that horrible place again (which I had never had that happen before with a job, no matter how bad it was!). I lost 10 pounds during the five months at that place as it was (and I'm slim enough as it is!), due to either having my morning appetite being greatly reduced, or just by skipping breakfast entirely once or twice over those months just so I could throw up instead (and, coming from someone who isn't exactly known as to being very sensitive and listening to death metal, that's pretty bad).

So, needless to say, one night I drove out to Toys 'r Us (in the rain!) to get my copy of it for only $10, as the 16-bit scene was dwindling away, due to the PlayStation making those consoles obsolete, as well as the Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64 were either out or were coming out at the time, as Sega was reportedly telling third party game companies to abandon the Genesis and start making games for their Saturn instead. (The 3D0 and Atari Jaguar were also out at the time [that much I DO know], but they weren't very major players in the gaming market.) So I did not care if I played the game late into the night and went to work (/hell) as a zombie the next day.

Well, as it turned out, I didn't really have a reason to worry, and you'll see why...

Actually, the gameplay's kind of difficult to explain, rather than trying it out for yourself, but here goes: first off, there's a square in the middle of the screen, which you're inside the square (looking like the ship from the Atari 2600 version of Asteroids...which reminds me, the graphics aren't that great). You cannot leave the square, so you have to defend it from...well, some kind of colorful shapes that are trying to invade your personal space.

So. Lets say your ship (or whatever it is) is currently colored purple. There's a row of three purple things off to a side, followed by a green shape behind them, approaching your square; if a shape is allowed to move into your square, the game ends. Since your ship is purple as well as those first three shapes, you can shoot them, taking out the purple ones, but then once your shot hits the green shape, the green thing will remain onscreen, turning your ship green in the process. You turn around, shooting other green shapes elsewhere on the screen until you run out of green shapes, then you should go for another color until all the shapes are gone and you've made it through a level.

Sound ok so far? It's not bad, but...of course, the game starts off easy, then more and more shapes appear, and they move faster and faster. After a few levels, power-ups start appearing that can wipe out all things of the same color in a sector, everything of the same shape in a sector, etc.

Now's where the faults of this game emerge.

Lets say the whole screen is full of shapes. You get a power-up. You pause the game to figure out which power-up feature will be best in regards to getting rid of whatever multitudes of shapes or colors are closest and what would work best.

Pausing the game is not cheating, if you ask me.

Well, obviously game maker Viacom disagreed, as the screen goes totally blank, except for the word "PAUSE" in the middle.

What a load of CRAP! This makes the damn game even more difficult than it already is. (Strike one.)

As it is, I'm a good gamer in general, as I've beaten dozens of games over the years (sometimes just on the first DAY of renting!)...yet how come I could never get past level 9 on this damn game (except once), especially when it's got 99 levels?

Strike two.

As I mentioned earlier, the game's fun at first -- but going through the same nine levels over and over isn't going to be fun FOREVER -- but what knocked down it's rating of what could have been a 6 is that Zoop has practically no options at all, as Ram It for the Atari 2600 -- which has an almost similar concept/game play -- came out over ten years before, is a lot better and had several variations! (And for those of us who love music so much that we run our video game systems through our stereos so we can tape some of the music, we don't even get a music test, for God's sake! So I couldn't get much from here, since I didn't want some of the game's sound effects interfering with my recording!)

There's not even a TWO PLAYER option; NONE! Having two players onscreen would be pretty nuts; I doubt this game even took up four megs, it could have very easily implemented this.

Strike three, this game's out!

You know, minus the music, I'll bet you could make a version of this game on the freakin' INTELLIVISION!

Strike four?

The funny thing is, though, Viacom also made the Genesis version of Beavis and Butthead, which, even with the instructions, I could not figure out what the hell to do through the game, couldn't get very far into it, and it wasn't even very fun. Two Viacom games, both of them I did not like. So I found it amusing due to a rumor at one point during the 90s that Viacom was planning on coming out with their own video game console. Pfffft, if it's games were anything like Zoop and B & B, then they would have lost millions on that console; just stick to producing your Montel Williams Show, since the guy donates his money to charity and is a role model for people who have Parkinson's (I think it's Parkinson's Disease that he has, I'm not sure). Shame on you, Viacom.

In closing, my friend Greg George from The Atari Times web site summed it up the best with his take on the Atari Jaguar version, although it pisses me off that he had THE best title for his review of it, which is "Zoop is Poop". So I can't use that title for my review here. Oh well. (You can read his take on the Jaguar version here: http://ataritimes.com/jaguar/reviews/zoop.html)

There are other puzzle games that are better than this...so just stick to Tetris.

Well, Zoop, you earn a B+ for screwing up such a good concept. Class dismissed! 5/10

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