By Vyacheslav Tretyak
Spectrum 128K

Published in Crash Annual 2021


Pre-Zu is a puzzle game involving organising a small menagerie of merry animals and selecting which to control at any time. You have a piglet, a hippo, a giraffe and a big-arsed elephant and they all want to get fitted into their outline/location within the playing field. The first few levels serve as an introduction to the game mechanics and they are quite easy to grasp. Simply navigate the terrain in platforming fashion and reach the chosen animal's static outline.

You are then introduced to multiple animals and you need to figure out how to switch between them in order to assist each in reaching their wire-frame avatars.

Ultimately you're presented with the final level; your task is to get the four beasts to co-operate. This requires symbiotic mutualism [Wow!! - Ed] to get through the level by using each beast's individual attributes, which involve size, jumping height and swimming. Pre-Zu is presented in a cool early-years Spectrum style with a minimalistic look. The main characters resemble enlarged UDG sprites and the rest of the play area is made up of simply coloured blocks representing land and water.



Think of all the animals you ever heard about / Like rhinoceroses and tigers, cats and mink / There are lots of funny animals in all this world / But have you ever seen a panther that is pink?

Okay, Pre-Zu has a menagerie of animals, but no panther. Despite that, I couldn't help but sing those Saturday afternoon cartoon lyrics. I admit, I was expecting it to be rubbish. Oh how I was mistaken! This is one slick platform puzzler, and I smiled all the time I played it.

I look the minimal look, it took me back to a time when I was discovering all those cool early titles. Don't let the uber-retro look put you off because this is a clever game to try and solve.

It's just a shame it's over all too soon, the final level comes to an end and it's game over. I'd kill for a level editor to make my own games and share them with friends. Pre-Zu reminds me of a title on the PC a few years back called Thomas Was Alone. I heartily recommend it.


On the face of it, Pre-Zu is extremely simple to look at, but start to play and that's the last thing to worry about. The landscape loks like it was built with your leftover Lego, but actually it turns out to be quite charming. In this puzzle game it's down to you to work out when you need to use each of the animals.

Using left, right and jump, the mechanics are as simple as can be though it has your stretching your brain.

The downside is that it's way too short - whether designed as a tester to see what could be done for this type of game or as a full game to kill ten minutes it would benefit from being longer.

The levels are short and snappy, and get trickier as you go but just when you get into the game it's all over. If there is ever a sequel, let's hope it's longer because this is one I could spend many hours on working out those puzzles.

Despite its brief size, the game stands out in other aspects and leaves you wanting more.


Control Keys: Cursor Keys, SPACE, X
Joystick: None.
Use Of Colour: Big bold colours throughout - but it works.
Graphics: Simplistic but suit this kind of puzzle game.
Sound: 128K tune throughout.
Lives: Unlimited.


More of this please - it would have had a much higher Addictive score had it lasted longer.

Paul Davies

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