Zoo Keeper Import Hands-On

We check out Success' action puzzle game for the Nintendo DS.

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Zoo Keeper is a recently released action puzzle game for the Nintendo DS. The game is a DS port of Robot Communication's puzzle game Zoo Keeper, which has already been released as a game for mobile phones, and also on the GBA and PS2 under the title of ZOOO. We recently tried out the final Japanese version of the game to see how it shaped up on the DS.

You'll find four different game modes to choose from in Zoo Keeper: tokoton 100, quest, time attack, and two-player battle. Each offers a variation on the core gameplay, which revolves around clearing animal symbols from your touch screen. The game mechanics are a variation on the classic Bejeweled, which is itself based on a slew of similar puzzle games. The rules in Zoo Keeper are simple: Your objective is to erase the animal symbols that fill up the screen by aligning them three in a row. The catch is that you'll get only one move to make a line of three or more, which keeps you on your toes.

Control in the game is as basic as it gets. You'll use the DS stylus to tap on the symbol of your choice and then tap the symbol you'd like it to swap places with. If you've done this properly, you'll create a line of three or more symbols that will then disappear. If you haven't gauged things properly, the pieces will simply revert to their original locations. Once you get the hang of the system, you can start to set up chains that will wipe out different lines in waves as new pieces come down to replace those that you clear. In addition, you can tap special symbols that appear occasionally to randomly clear the board of one type of symbol. Clearing symbols, either individually or in combos, will fill the time meter, which is on the left-hand side of the screen and runs down as you play. The simple system works well, and the stylus support is suitably responsive, which makes for a pleasantly addictive experience.

The presentation, although modest, works well. The graphics in the game are simple and cartoony, with some inspired flashes of personality from the assorted animal symbols. The story sequences are basic cartoony segments that are low on animation but still have personality, thanks to their angular art style. The audio in the game features a pleasing mix of catchy tunes that suit the action well.

Overall, Zoo Keeper is solid little puzzler, offering an addictive experience that does a fine job of incorporating the DS's touch screen. If you're looking to import the game, you may want to hold off until its US release later this month, as the other game modes give you key info in Japanese. Zoo Keeper is out in Japan now and is set for release in the US later this month for the Nintendo DS. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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