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Game review: Zookeeper

01 May 2005

The Nintendo DS does have a pretty impressive launch line up, mostly original titles that haven’t appeared anywhere else before. However Zookeeper, or games very much like it, have been appearing on computers around the world via the web as Flash games for sometime now.

The game is relatively simple. Animals have escaped from the local zoo and it’s up to you as the zoo keeper to “herd” them back again.

This is purely a tacked-on storyline to justify some of the best puzzle game action to be had on the DS. You basically swap animals around on a grid until you get three in a row and they disappear, causing any animals resting on them to drop down the grid. Obviously this also means that should your move affect other rows or columns of animals favourably, combinations can be built up and chains can swiftly result in a huge point count.

Zookeeper sounds really simple but don’t let that fool you. With several nifty game modes including timed challenges, score challenges and “Tokoton” (basically the quickest time you can clear 100 triplets of animals) as well as some cool multiplayer wireless link up action, Zookeeper will keep you playing well into the wee small hours.

The graphics are brash and bright, slightly tidied up from the PC original. The two screens are used well with the bottom screen showing the action that takes place, where you move pieces and watch the results.

The top screen shows scores and bonuses, and the type of animal that you will get extra bonus points for clearing.

Most levels consist of being given a set number of animals to clear before the level ends and you move on to the next challenge, which in theory sounds very easy but you will find yourself frantically searching for your next moves at times, as the ever-present level timer ticks down slowly. If you don’t make a move before the timer ends, you’re done for!