The goal of Zoop is to prevent the wacky shapes from reaching the center zone where your player resides. You can zoom out of your box and destroy shapes if there are two or more in a line and your player is the same color. If your player is of a different color, it will be exchanged with the advancing shape.
That all sound easy enough on paper, but the actual practice (as I said) makes for one confusing game. Too many pieces come at the player far to fast. Not only will you have to worry about 4 different directions of pieces, but you also have to contend with 4 columns from each direction for a total of 16 columns! With all this activity to keep track of the player will never feel as if he or she is control of the situation.
Zipping around the screen swapping pieces gets boring fast and the player never feels as if anything is being accomplished. In similar puzzle games, lines are erased or bubbles are disintegrated. Sure, pieces in Zoop disappear, but they are quickly replaced by new ones and other columns are always advancing. Unlike Tetris where you feel moments of exhilaration Zoop's gameplay just feels flat and irritating.
The graphics are nothing to write home about. In fact, the select and in-game screens seem to revel in being dull looking. No wonder this was an easy port from all the other game systems.
About the only thing of merit in Zoop is the music. It is clear and crisp and has a few jaunty tunes that will remind you of a circus atmosphere. The sound effects are appropriate for such a quirky game and the "attack" sound effect your player makes is satisfying enough.
Zoop doesn't have the simple fun of a Tetris or the creative flair of a Ballistic. It tries too hard to be different and ultimately fails in it's job as a video game. It's no fun to play.
Across the PlatformsOne thing I was excited about when Zoop was released was the marketing campaign. Magazine advertisements mentioned that the game was for several platforms such as the Genesis, SNES, Gameboy, PC, and... >Gasp!< Jaguar! I think this was the only game that wasn't afraid to admit there was a Jaguar version!