Genre: Maze Chase Developer: Sigma Pro-Tech/Cyclone System Publisher: Sega Enterprises Players: 1-2 Released: 1989
Zoom! is a puzzle/platformer hybrid that was released in the first days of the Mega Drive’s life span. Out of the five European translators, the Swedish are the only ones who came up with an alternate name for the game, “Bom!”. The translator also renamed the character Mr. Smart as “Herr Fiffig”, even though the word “Smart” has the same meaning in Swedish. That wasn’t very… clever if you ask me. I include this because there is so little to say about this game, so don’t worry if your scrolling finger is tired, it won’t be long!
The story puts Final Fantasy to shame (sarcasm, to be sure!). It tells of our hero, Mr. Smart (Herr Fiffig), a troll-like creature without a torso, who has decided to battle “the wiggly Space Phantoms,” who have put up magical force fields around the Earth. What the force fields do is something the manual doesn’t tell. Maybe the Space Phantoms want to decrease skin cancer in Australia, something Mr. Smart is against because your mission is to erase the force fields. They are built up by small squares that make grids. Skating around a square makes it blink. When all squares on one level are blinking, the enemies go BOM! and your onto the next one. This goes on and on until the end, with no bosses or bonus levels to give you a happy surprise. You have some time to finish the levels. But if the time runs out, the monsters become even angrier and the usually cheesy music turns into Norwegian Black Metal.
When skating around, you can also jump to reach a square not linked to the one you currently aren’t at or just to avoid enemies. Your weapon is the BFG9000 from Doom, slightly altered into the form of rubber balls fired from your behind, bouncing your enemies away if hit. Aside from that, some power ups can be found on the stages. The sun gives invincibility for a while, the mushroom gives speed and extra points, candy gives extra points, the banana is a censored version of hash, calming the enemies down, and the the clock is a censored version of Rohypnol, which completely knocks the enemies out for a while. The feather clears the whole level. And lastly, the star is any random power up.
The enemies are varied, and all have their individual abilities. The Rowdy Fingers will just chase you all the time and piss you off entirely. It will be the main cause of your many deaths. The spiller erases your lines around the unfinished squares you have skated on, not really a big problem if you ask me. Charm looks like a jellyfish and won’t kill you if you hit it, just slow you down to SNES speed. Spine-spine teleports from place to place to attack you when you aren’t ready. And finally, we have cue, which runs back and forward doing nothing but being in your way. There’s a two-player option where you cooperate called “Competition” (?). I tried it with my friend, and it didn’t enhance the game’s fun factor like two- player co-op usually does. That really disappointed me. The game only increases the number of enemies on screen.
Since all levels are very similar to each other, and you meet the same five monsters and pick up the same seven Goodies all the time, the graphic engineers used different backgrounds every sixth level for variation. The backgrounds are without doubt astounding, especially since they are from the ’80s. The grid is fake 3D and uses vector graphics, like, for example, in Asteroids. Everything but the grid is sprites. The music is standard average platform music that suits the game very well (but not the “No Time” black metal tune).
All in all, Zoom! is indeed a game for young beginners, because it is so easy. After a few levels everything will go smooth and there is no chance that someone who wants to reach and clear level thirty-six (the last) won’t do that, because there are gazillions of extra lives waiting for you. If you skate around three edges of eight pairs of squares and leave the vertical one linking them together for last, you can flash all those squares at the same time. That will give great scores and extra lives many times. You will die often, but the extra lives will always be ahead of your deaths, so no worries. But IF you’d die and get a “game over,” there’s a continue option to begin where the last background came, so not completing this game is entirely impossible. I think all the extra lives make the game too easy, since I don’t have to focus really much and just prowl around.
If you have someone very young in your family you want to play beginner games with together, Zoom! makes an average choice. It lacks violence, can be played by two people, and is easy to learn and play. Don’t buy this if it’s for you only. The game is too monotonous, finished quickly, and the original gameplay with its few ideas can’t make up for that very long.
SCORE: 5 out of 10