We've seen a lot of retro remakes and remasters in recent times and even brand-new games built with a vintage aesthetic, but the recent arrival of Zool Redimensioned is intriguing - simply because of the way in which it was made and the ethos behind its development. Yes, one of the objectives behind the game is to return the Amiga platforming icon to gamers' attention - and yes, perhaps this is about testing the waters for some kind of return for the ninja from the Nth Dimension. But just as important as that is the fact that Zool Redimensioned was built by students at the Sumo Digital Academy, creating their own C++ engine as the foundation for the remaster. It's an investment from a major studio in nurturing a new wave of game developers.
You can learn all about it in this special DF Retro interview, where John Linneman and Audi Sorlie talk to Jacob Habgood, director of education partnerships at the Sumo Group about how Zool Redimensioned came to be, while Sumo Digital Academy intern Emma Rogers shares her experiences in helping to create the new version of the game. On top of that, we get some fascinating insights and historical perspectives from none other than Ian Stewart - co-founder of Gremlin Graphics, the 80s/90s publishing powerhouse responsible not just for Zool, but a range of almost legendary micro-computer franchises from Potty Pigeon, Bounder, Monty Mole, through to Switchblade and the officially licensed Lotus racing games - and many more.
Zool Redimensioned itself is an interesting project - the Sumo Digital Academy started off by mining the Sega Mega Drive version of the original game for the core artwork (it seems the original Amiga assets and codebase may well be lost to time), and from there, the team remade the game from new. While the original Mega Drive version is part of the £7.99/$9.99 package, Redimensioned is something quite different. The higher resolution of today's displays means that far more of the environment is visible, making for easier, more intuitive traversal. In turn, this meant redesigning aspects of some of the levels, as secret areas were no longer secret anymore! In the process of further modernising the game, a range of quality of life improvements were added to the mix, including checkpoints, level selects and accessibility options, while the original's brutal difficulty level was also adjusted to better suit today's audiences.
There's much more to learn in the interview embedded on this page, but what impresses us here is the commitment to nurturing new development talent. Half of publisher Secret Mode's revenues from Zool Redimensioned will go back to the Sumo Digital Academy to support its efforts - and right now, it's already looking to bring in a new wave of students...
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