Viacom New Media sure was proud of Zoop. Not only was it released on seven different consoles (including the monochrome Game Boy and "64-bit" Jaguar), but some versions featured the outlandish catchphrase: "America's Largest Killer of Time." With that amount of hubris, it's a shame that Zoop ended up being a mediocre puzzle game on pretty much every console it was ported to.
This is a cynical attempt to cash in on the sudden success of Tetris, Columns and Dr. Mario. Unfortunately, most of those puzzlers had peaked years earlier, leaving Zoop to compete in a world full of fighting games and first-person shooters. Making matters worse, the core gameplay was shallow when compared to the titans of the puzzle genre. Zoop is all show.
The gameplay is a cross between the color matching of Columns and the Midway's classic Space Zap. You play a wedge stuck in a four by four grid in the center of the screen. Your job is to match colored ink blots together by lining them up and smashing your wedge into them. The colorful ink comes from four sides, which means you'll need to move quickly to mix and match pieces. Line up a full row of matching colors and you'll earn extra points. But don't get too greedy, because it's game over if any of those ink blots find their way into your safe zone.
The gameplay is quick and the first few rounds are a lot of fun, but Zoop's lack of substance quickly rears its ugly head. Once you've mastered the game's fundamentals there's little else to do, which quickly turns the fast-paced fun into a boring slog. There's not enough variety to keep players coming back, especially when there are significantly better puzzle choices on each and every one of those systems.
It's also disappointing that the game opts against any form of multiplayer. A competitive two-player mode would have been fun, with both players occupying the same real estate. I could also see how a co-op mode could work. But alas, those are nothing more than a pipe dream (not to be confused with Pipe Dream, a significantly better puzzler). We're stuck with a boring one-player mode.
Zoop doesn't look like much on the Sega Genesis. The visuals are bland and there's no pizazz to the presentation. Then again, that could be said about the entire game. This is a middling puzzle game that feels like it was thrown hastily thrown together to make a quick buck. With shallow gameplay and no multiplayer modes, Zoop is relic best kept in the past.