The general public seems accustomed to "good". Frequently, a television series, film, book or computer/console game comes along and we accept comments or reviews containing phrases like "excellent", "enjoyable" or (a half-hearted) "classic". but rarely nowadays, does something come along that literally stands head and shoulders above all the other apparent "high-quality" stuff. This Atari 8-bit game that I've been playing recently is one of those releases. Yoomp! blows all other releases out of the water.
The overall feel and presentation of this game is like a breath of fresh air. Everything and I mean everything has been polished to perfection. The title screen contains a gorgeously shaded logo, a fantastic swirling star field, an animated bouncing ball, options to control levels and sounds and a simple attract mode that describes aspects of the game. Oh, and don't forget the mean-sounding music either! All this and the game hasn't even started yet! The game? Well, what a sugary treat! The concept is quite simple and actually reminded me a little of a cracking freeware game I used to play on my Amiga called Zero Gravity where you guided a space craft down a tube avoiding walls and obstacles. In Yoomp!, you instead guide a bouncing ball, complete with animated shadow, down the inside of a hollow tube towards a goal, whilst avoiding obstacles and nasties. At the same time, you must negotiate the various tiles on which you bounce. Special tiles have various effects on your ball, such as causing it to jump, change direction, stop or start, teleport and so on. The level itself can also be changed by landing on assorted tiles; bouncing on such tiles induces "earthquakes", changes the brightness of the level, and causes a lightning strike, amongst other things.
BLAZING A TRAIL
All of these balls, shadows, tiles and effects are displayed on a colourful, well thought out screen. Suffice to say, the graphics are gorgeous and smooth! The in game soundtrack adds to the action brilliantly; in fact, your ball bounces to the tempo of the music which actually adds to the gameplay by allowing you to judge distance and get into a rhythm while playing. What a thoughtful touch! Yoomp! has obviously been play tested extensively. The difficulty level increases gradually and new features are introduced steadily, allowing you to learn and consolidate. The only barrier to play initially, is the control method. Because you are bouncing on the inside of a hollow tube and controlling the ball with left and right movements (that moves the ball clockwise or anti-clockwise), when you move towards the top of the tube, your controls become in effect reversed; pushing right moves the ball left and vice versa. Although feeling a little strange on the first few plays, this control method becomes intuitive quickly enough.
This game won first place in the ABBUC 2007 Software Contest and it's easy to understand why; with such attention to detail and with nothing being compromised for the sake of something else, it really is a special Atari 8-bit release. Unfortunately for me, it's one of those games where I could wax lyrical for pages and pages and never truly convey the brilliance lurking within. All I can do is insist you download and play this game forthwith. Miss it and you are missing a superlative piece of Atari software. And now I can put this review to bed, smugly knowing that I wrote it without once saying that Yoomp! "is a bit like C64's Cosmic Causeway or Trailblazer, but in a tube". Thank you and goodnight!