Tetris has remained the king of puzzle games, like an electronic Rubik's Cube among me-too Missing Link and Rubik's Revenge wanna-bes. But Tetris may have maintained its position unfairly, since many of its numerous knock-offs are not only more fun, but more ingenious as well.
Zoop falls into this category: a game obviously inspired by Alexey Pajitnov's falling blocks that involves much more pizzazz and strategy. Set in what might be the bottom of Tetris's vertical well, colorful shapes assault your triangular piece from all sides. As you zap them, you assume their color and they assume yours; if they're already your color, they disappear, but if they aren't, they keep coming and Well, it all sounds very complicated on paper but it's actually quite elegant when it's in motion.
The unique artwork in Zoop adds to the fun. The pastels and rounded shapes of the sprites reminded me of an Eisenhower-era cocktail party or some nouveau-riche box of Lucky Charms, with purple martini glasses, green olives, and orange berets. Backgrounds add to the confusion, with space-age bachelor-pad wallpaper patterns forcing your eyes to move away from the action and causing your blood pressure to skyrocket.
Unfortunately, one big obstacle prevents Zoop from becoming the ultimate Tetris-killer: the game is just too darn hard. It starts off at breakneck speed and never lets up, never giving the player an adequate chance to develop any strategy or interest. It's always over just as you're getting the hang of it.
Once you do break through the initial frustration, though, Zoop will gradually become an addiction. So throw on those Martin Denny records, pour yourself a sloe gin fizz, and get yourself hooked on this hip little game, daddy-o.