Written by Sean Colleli on 9/20/2005 for GBA  
More On: Zooo

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. 

Zooo isn’t the deepest or flashiest puzzle game, but it gets the job done with a pleasing aesthetic style and solid, pick-up-and-play dynamics. Kids and adults will like this one for its simplistic appearance and deceptively challenging gameplay.

Rating: 7.5 Above Average

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

Sean Colleli has been gaming off and on since he was about two, although there have been considerable gaps in the time since. He cut his gaming teeth on the “one stick, one button” pad of the Atari 800, taking it to the pirates in Star Raiders before space shooter games were cool. Sean’s Doom addiction came around the same time as fourth grade, but scared him too much to become a serious player until at least sixth grade. It was then that GoldenEye 007 and the N64 swept him off his feet, and he’s been hardcore ever since.

Currently Sean enjoys a good shooter, but is far more interested in solid adventure titles like The Legend of Zelda or the beautiful Prince of Persia trilogy, and he holds the Metroid series as a personal favorite. Sean prefers deep, profound characters like Deus Ex’s JC Denton, or ones that break clichés like Samus Aran, over one dimensional heroes such as the vacuous Master Chief. Sean will game on any platform but he has a fondness for Nintendo, Sega and their franchises. He has also become a portable buff in recent years. Sean’s other hobbies include classic science fiction such as Asimov and P.K. Dick, and Sean regularly writes down his own fiction and aimless ramblings. He practices Aikido and has a BA in English from the Ohio State University. He is in his mid twenties. View Profile

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