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Zoo Keeper (DS) artwork

Zoo Keeper (DS) review


"Tetris, a Russian-developed game for the Gameboy, was what sparked the handheld industry and allowed it to lift off the ground, with the original title selling more than 13 million copies. Despite being behind the console market in capabilities, Tetris proved that some games could only be real good on a handheld, illustrated by several console versions. "



Tetris, a Russian-developed game for the Gameboy, was what sparked the handheld industry and allowed it to lift off the ground, with the original title selling more than 13 million copies. Despite being behind the console market in capabilities, Tetris proved that some games could only be real good on a handheld, illustrated by several console versions.

In Tetris, blocks would fall down, and players would grab the falling blocks and sort them around, so that three identical blocks in a row would disappear. Many sweaty and mentally taxing minutes later, the player would set off a chain that made the nearly full screen of blocks begin to collapse on each other in a fashion similar to the fall of the communist regime. Congratulations. Now new blocks would fall in defiance against your latest victory.

Over a decade and a half later, unknown Buddiez, Inc. and Success would release the fairly discrepant Zoo Keeper, a game that would make a few major changes to the formula that Tetris introduced. The first notable alteration is that you don’t have blocks falling down from the top of the screen; rather, after you fit together the blocks, the screen is filled up with more blocks.

The second modification to the gameplay is one that borrows from later Tetris-esque games and adds on. Some of the original’s later variants would allow you to switch each block with another block, so that you could form big towers and pull off huge combos. In Zoo Keeper, when you switch two blocks, the end result must be minimal one line of three blocks.

Unfortunately, this is also the single flaw of Zoo Keeper. While it presents something new, it also restricts your ability to pull off large combos. Most of the time, your only combos will come from dumb luck – rarely will you actually have the opportunity to pull off even a two-line combo. Nevertheless, Zoo Keeper is still very addictive, with its heavy use of the Nintendo DS’s touch screen surprisingly well-done. Even after you clear Story Mode, you still have skill quests to do, many of which are somewhat difficult. This makes it an arduous task at times to pull away from the game.

Also, after frequent blackmailing to members of Success, they finally told me what they were on when they created the graphical style - with character models, everything, made out of blocks. Fear not, though, because while the developers were on crack, they made the style just right so that it adds a layer of insanity.

In the end, Zoo Keeper is a fairly average game balanced out by the long hours of fun it can offer and the unreasonably high price (30$-40$ USD). However, it does a fairly good job at demonstrating the potential of puzzle games on the DS, and can be thought as a quirky game in itself. Who knows, it might throw you a few surprises – such as a GOOD PLOT TWIST in an otherwise laughable story.

Rating: 6/10

yamishuryou's avatar
Community review by yamishuryou (February 12, 2005)

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