posted 9/20/2005 by Sean Colleli
other articles by Sean Colleli
Platforms: GBA

The launch of the DS saw a handful of simple yet addictive titles, one of which was Zoo Keeper.  This colorful little puzzler had you switching cute animal faces in and out with the stylus, ala Bejeweled.  Zoo Keeper amassed a small following and is one of the DS’s more popular puzzle games to date, surpassed only by Meteos.  Recently, Ignition Entertainment ported the bubbly little game to the GBA.  So, how does it fare?

 To be honest, it’s just about as good as its DS big brother, because it’s basically the same game.  The only thing that has been dropped is the stylus support, for obvious reasons, but the core gameplay is just as entertaining as before.  Zooo has the rare ability to eat away time as if it were popcorn, with a “just one more round” feel.  The concept is fairly simple, but as with all simple things, the combinations are almost endless.

You’ll spend all of the game, every mode, swapping rows of zoo animal heads back and forth, trying to line up three identical faces to make them disappear.  These heads appear in an 8 by 8 square that is constantly replenished.  It sounds easy, but you’ll quickly discover that it takes a keen eye to single out the areas where you can make rows match up.  All the while a timer is ticking, so you can’t simply rove over the square lazily looking for matches.  It gets pretty hectic when the time is almost up, and usually the only way to save yourself is by executing combos.  This means lining up one set so that several others will follow.  Flashing heads will eliminate all of one kind of animal on the board, usually setting off a chain of combos.

This idea is broken up into five game modes, which offer a surprising amount of variety.  Normal has you meeting a designated score within the time limit, and then moving on to a harder stage.  By stage four or five I was sweating, a lot, but then again puzzlers aren’t my favorite genre.  Tokoton is a little different; capturing 100 animals always bumps you up a level and difficulty.  Score and Time Attack are self explanatory, but the Quest mode is more interesting.  It gives you 8 different tasks to complete, such as collecting a certain number of combos of one animal type, or completing a number of combos in a set time.

 For casual gamers and hardcore puzzlers alike, Zooo is a great time-waster.  It’s just as addictive as Bejeweled, and its cute graphics style and upbeat music caters to a large audience.  The overall concept is rather shallow, but Zooo is perfect for a quick, eye-twisting break from work or school. 

Page 2 of 1