Zip
1985
Arcade: Platform
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

20,21
Chris Bourne

If you have never heard a computer talking 'Scratch' then Zoot could offer you a new experience. As soon as the game has loaded you are greeted with a bit of verbal which, though quite intelligible, defies the confines of the written word.

Zoot is a fairly large, cumbersome sort of a chap. His passion, we are told, is playing marbles but he's lost them down a drain. Well Zoot does what any devotee would do he follows them. So begin the adventures of Zoot and his friend Zip.

Life past the drain cover isn't at all what you might expect. In order for Zoot to recover his marbles he must make his way through eleven caverns, and each one demands the performance of a specific task. On the first screen you are greeted by the Dumb Goopas. You know they're dumb because the instructions say so; you are also told to move Zoot about the cavern bashing each one. Goopas don't like being bashed, so as soon as you hit them they explode and die.

Moving about the cavern is a complicated business. What you see is four platform levels, with each level is divided into a total of eight separate segments or gaps. You guide loot left or right along a platform until he meets an obstruction or comes to a gap in the path. If there is a section missing from the platform Zoot can still move: he squats down, grins, and flies one complete segment across the gap. There's no way Zoot can cross a gap two or more sections wide, however.

Zoot can also pilot platform segments downwards providing there is a section below him to land on which is free from obstructions. If there are no segments below Zoot in the column, he will cycle round the top of the screen. When he travels vertically, Zoot claps one hand to his eyes and looks distinctly worried! No wonder if Zoot moves a segment down when it is the only segment in the column, then he meets a sticky end: if there isn't platform left for him to land on, he loses a life.

Each cavern in the game is, in effect, a giant sliding puzzle and the puzzle element in the game becomes clear by the time you are into the second screen. The task here is not simply to go round billing the creatures but to trap them on single platform segments so they cannot move. This takes careful planning as it's very easy for Zoot himself to become trapped. Other screens involve collecting marbles while dodging the flying Zip (who can be a help as well as a hindrance), collecting or punching bells, removing all of the sections and picking up as many points from as many ledges as you can work your way round. The last five screens require you to perform a combination of the tasks encountered in the first six screens.

The creatures, or Mankins, which Zoot encounters on his journey, vary in their own little ways. The Goopas are dumb while the Bodkins are shy. The one called Cheeky is indestructible when his tongue is out. Others like Spike, Uggy, Bogie and Grimbo have their own nasty habits. For most of the time the Mankins are pretty harmless but they can deprive Zoot of one of his four lives if he comes into contact with them.

When Zoot loses a life he must negotiate the screen again. The same is true if Zoot miscalculates his movement and attempts to move down onto a section where one does not exist. If the Gods are smiling down on Zoot he might get the opportunity to collect extra lives or even an object called an IDC tablet. Picking up the tablet seems to remove random sections and may benefit Zoot by trapping some of the Mankins for him.

CRITICISM

'Zoot is a pretty boring chap. Although the graphics are large, clear and jolly the game was altogether too slow for my liking. The theme of the game is both clever and original but isn't involved enough to fall comfortably into the puzzle game category, while the lack of speed bars it from being classified as an arcade game. A cheerful and jolly game with little substance to it, really.'

'Another game from the new budget software label, Bug-Byte - as with the rest this one is quite well finished with nice graphics and sound. Zoot's even got a bit of speech included. Generally, though, I felt there wasn't much of a game behind it all. The graphics are large and jolly and the sound is satisfying. As for the game itself... I played it for about half an hour before I sussed out what I was supposed to be doing! It grows on you after a while though, and I found myself quite enjoying it after several goes'

'Though I was quite impressed with the style of graphics, I wasn't that overjoyed by the game. If it had been a bit better implemented, perhaps a little faster or a bit less jerky then maybe it would have been received a bit better. Presentation wise I was very impressed-the title screen with accompanying scratch track was amazing - but when it comes down to it, it's not a bad game, but not a remarkable one either, even for a budget label.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: O/P left/right, A for down, 0 to punch
Joystick: Kempston and Interface II
Keyboard play: fair
Use of colour: simple
Graphics: witty and jolly, but very slow
Sound: superb speech synthesis at the beginning and end
Skill levels: one
Screens: eleven
General Rating: Cheap and cheerful, fun for a while.

75%
60%
53%
55%
57%
65%
59%

Screenshot Text

Lost your marbles? ZOOT has, and it's up to you to help the poor fellow get them back. Blobby nasties living on platforms stand in his way in this game-with-a-difference from Bug Byte.