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Cool World is an arcade platform game loosely based on a movie of the same name. The story behind the game involves a world in another dimension, created entirely of cartoon structures and cartoon characters (called Doodles). This Noid (short for "humanoid")- created world, born of imagination, is just as real as our world. Cool World's diva, Holli Would, has learned of the existence of our Real World and the discovery of a gateway between her own Cool World and ours. Holli has decided she wants to enter the Real World to live in a real body and has developed a plan to achieve this. By sending members of her gang through vortexes into Real World, her henchmen will be able to push objects from Real World back into Cool World. In theory, this should disrupt the cosmic balance enough to allow Holli to enter Real World and become "alive". The only downside to her plan is that it may just destroy both worlds in the process. Oops!
As Detective Frank Harris, a law officer of Cool World, you must stop Holli's gang of Doodles from stealing Real World objects and sending them back to Cool World. Time is running out, and Harris must use every means at his disposal in order to preserve the balance, thereby keeping both worlds intact.
The game is divided into three different areas: the street, Cool World, and its equivalent Real World parallel dimension. The street level is a maze of tunnels and doors occupied by wandering Doodles who carry wooden nickels. Nails, Harris' trusted assistant, will contact him via a telephone Doodle to inform him of the location of the latest threat. The door will then appear on the map, flashing to signal urgency. In order to access the vortexes from Cool World into Real World, you have to pay a set toll so the doors will allow you to enter. Once inside, Harris, armed with his trusty ink pen, must stop the Doodles from sending items back to Cool World and return any items back to Real World that have been pushed through. Each stage must be kept in balance for five minutes or Harris will dissolve into bubbles of ink, only to return to pick up the case once again. This reanimation will cost Harris one life and add thirty seconds to the time remaining on the clock when Harris was last erased.
Bonuses for your weapon (ink pen), extra lives, health renewal, temporary invincibility and two other undefinable bonuses are available to assist Harris in his goal. The Doodles need to be overcome by shooting them with the pen and then dispatching the blob of ink which remains in their place. If this blob is not destroyed or sucked back into the pen (for additional points), it will quickly turn into a very large, angry and vicious-looking wooden nickel that will continue to pursue its initial mission.
When comparing the movie to the game, Cool World has pulled off an exact match between the two media formats. Both make absolutely no sense; both have a lot of pointless graphics which seem flat, repetitive, nonsensical and impersonal; and both game and movie are a complete waste of time. The smooth, cartoonishly-detailed graphics and smooth controls only lead to an overall impression of a very flat, two-dimensional landscape. It feels as though anything moving on-screen, including your character, is an overlaid cutout being dragged over a piece of colorfully decorated paper. I found it difficult to determine which world is supposed to be Real, but it was too easy to readily determine that neither world was "cool" at all. There is no initial installation setup for sound or music; the game can be paused but the music continues to play; the stages are limited to just four which then repeat; there are only two different characters and three different objects per level, so nothing is ever new; and the interminable five minute countdown necessary to escape from each stage is just too much. The math for time consumed equates to sixteen stages at five minutes per stage for a total of ninety minutes of continuous play, based on an absolutely flawless completion for the all of the world levels. Should I include include the street levels where you wander around, following a poorly designed map and collecting wooden nickels? If so, then you are locked into this game for approximately two hours. You score points for almost everything you do, which may seem like a reward when you are entering your name for all eternity into the High Scores screen. That is, until you find out that in Cool World, eternity is brief, and high scores are only recorded in computer memory, vanishing as soon as you exit to DOS. I advise you to exit to DOS well before you ever attain a high score. There is a lot more I consider to be flawed about this game, but I hope the message I am trying to deliver has been received.
Since the rating system used on Abandonia starts with a one and not a zero, I should really list a few of the game's redeeming features. The intro animation is very good and worth watching. Being able to redefine the keys when you start the game is also nice, although this step has to be redone every time you restart the game application. There is a 'nomusic' switch you can append to the executable at start up to avoid the detection of Adlib or Soundblaster cards, although 'nomusic' in Cool World really means 'nosound' for anything. There are also secret switches programmed into the game which will display different messages, instead of names, for the high score screen. This entertained me for a few seconds, and then I realized someone actually spent time getting paid to create this additional, unseen garbage, instead of focusing their energy on making a better game. Gathering all of these weak elements together produces a grand total of one whole point, which is all this game barely deserves.
For more information about default controls, status screen definitions and playing tips, please download the Instructions file from the Extras section.
The most precious tip I can recommend is to download and install Cool World, watch the intro animation, gain entrance to at least one door, and experience the game play for the different dimensional worlds. I would then quickly exit to DOS and run WIPECOOL.EXE. This will automatically erase nearly every trace of Cool World from your storage device. To maintain the balance in your own Real World, you will be responsible for deleting the Cool World compressed archive and installed directory.