Review: Zoom! (Sega Genesis)

In this review, we run the line in the Sega Genesis game Zoom! We find out if this puzzle game is worth a try.

This game was released in 1989.

You play as what I can only describe as a tiny orange gremlin.

There are several two player modes and one one player mode. So, this review will focus on the one player mode. Though, it is worth noting that competition doubles the number of enemies in a given level.

The playing field is basically a grid with varying configurations. Your goal is to slide along the edges of each square. If you fill in all sides of the square, the square will flash indicating that you have captured it. Capture every square and win the round.

Of course, there are a number of enemies impeding your progress. One enemy is the green hand. The green hand will basically chase you down regardless of location – or, at least try to. Another enemy is the brush. The brush will remove lines you have created. If it removes lines from squares that have already been captured, you keep that square regardless.

Another enemy is the molecule. This enemy will wander around the field more aimlessly. Finally, there is the mine that will stay in one position. Eventually, it will disappear and re-appear in another location. touch any enemy and you will be killed.

Aiding you is your method of attack. It isn’t much of an attack as it is a defensive move. You can use one of the buttons to fire a shot out from behind you. If you hit an enemy, the enemy will be knocked backwards. Another move is the ability to jump. This allows you to not only evade enemies, but also access island areas that can pop up. You can’t draw anything while in the air, but it can get you out of trouble.

Also aiding you are various items that randomly pop up part way through. One item is the timer. Collect this item and you’ll temporarily freeze enemies at their location. You can still die if you run into them, but evasion should be substantially easier. Meanwhile, the banana item will slow enemy movements. Not as effective as the clock, but better than nothing.

Another item is the sun icon. Collect this and you’ll be temporarily invulnerable. Useful for getting a few squares that are heavily guarded by enemies.

To my knowledge, the other items simply add to your score. I you reach a certain threshold of points, you’ll get a free life.

Run out of free lives and it is game over. There are no continues in this game.

One problem I have with this game is the use of perspective. While it visually seems like a cool idea to give some good flow to the game, it isn’t exactly practical. This is because it can be hard to tell what you are doing at a distance. Yet, you are expected to work as methodically and detailed as the area in the foreground. It would have been nice to have a top down perspective as an option – or maybe even rotate the field by 90 degrees. That would make life a lot easier if you are on one part of the field. Instead, it’s just annoying and limiting as you squint to see if you got every pixel of a line.

Another problem is that it can be difficult at times to tell which square you got. You wouldn’t think so since the squares blink on some levels, but with other levels, the color contrast is poor. You can find yourself finishing off what you think is the last square only to see that you aren’t advancing to the next level. So, you move to a safe location and sit down and examine each square trying to find the one that isn’t blinking. This is sometimes rather annoying – especially if you need to add a few more pixels to one corner to complete the last square on the other side of the field.

In addition, gameplay can get a little repetitive after a while. At first, there is a certain level of novelty in the game. Unfortunately, this does fade off after a while in spite of the increasing difficulty curve. After a while, the game gets a little boring.

On the plus side, the learning curve is good. Despite the somewhat complex nature of the game, it is very easy to figure out. The bonuses for chaining multiply squares is also a nice touch. The difficulty curve is also about right as well.

Generally speaking, it’s an OK game, but does have its share of small problems dragging the quality of the experience down. Still, the difficulty and learning curves are nicely done even though the game does get a little bit boring after a while. An OK game.

The graphics are decent enough, but nothing huge. The special effects are fairly basic, but the sprites are pretty decently drawn. The wire frame animations between levels are not that impressive and only serve to drag the game out. An OK effort, but has its share of problems including the aforementioned perspective problems.

The audio is OK. The music is OK, but rather limited in the number of tracks. I’m not what to think of the voice sample. It’s great that it’s in the game, but I’m not sure how much it adds to the experience. A passable effort here.

Overall, this game is OK, but has its share of problems. The perspective adds problems to the general gameplay. Gameplay itself can get rather repetitive after a while. The contrast of taken squares does leave a bit to be desired on some levels. I like the difficulty and learning curve, however. The wire frame animations are not that impressive and drags the game out more than it should be. The sprites are decently drawn. The graphics could have used better special effects. The audio is OK, but is somewhat limited in the quantity department. A decent game, but nothing amazing.

Furthest point in game:
Died on level 2×3.
High score: 12,300

General gameplay: 17/25
Replay value: 5/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 64%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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