Don't trust those negative reviews, Zoo Keeper is a puzzle lover classic!
The basic aim of the game is to "capture" as many animals as possible, an allignment of 3 or more animals of the same specieis doing the job. Unlike Nintendo's Tetris Attack and the rest of its series, a move may only be made if there are alligned pieces. The gameplay is relatively easy but a player who's never experienced the bejewled-type play would take 3-5 minutes getting the hang of how it works but there's a How to Play option at the intro screen menu so the gameplay can be learned from there.. If a player is stuck and can't see any possible moves, the game offers the player a possible 3 hints, 2 initially and boldens the possible matches. When there are no matches on the screen, the board is cleared, replaced and the player is given a score bonus. It is basically a battle with the timer, capturing animals raises the timer and as the levels progress, the speed of the timer does also.The innovative Stylus interaction allows the player to shift the puzzle pieces with a single swipe rather than the tedious movements with the mouse/analong controller. As any puzzle would, Zoo Keeper offers a variety of entertaining game modes and difficulty options (easy, normal, hard) which would keep the player occupied for several hours.
The normal mode is your basic level-by-level game style with requirable quotas to reach before progressing to the next round (this means capturing a certain number of animals). The lucky animal which is featured on the upper DS screen is the equivalent to a bonus multiplayer in which that animal is multiplied by 2 for every capture. There is an ending after completing all the levels of normal mode and your player's performance can be indentified by the head zoo keeper's comments after losing.
Tokoton 100 is Zoo Keeper's equivalent to the commonly known Endless Mode. This mode plays out endlessly, the player advancing a level every time 100 captures of a certain animal have been made. The timer does get ridiculously fast after many levels but adds that feeling of pressure and intensity. I personally like this mode best when on the go.
The quest mode plays out to be a mission-based game mode which requires you to capture a certain number of animals without capturing any other kind which is a more challenging mode from the rest if trying to attain a high score is up your alley.
Time Attack mode speaks alot for itself. The player is offered 6 minutes to score as high as possible. Same rules and scoring as would a normal mode except with a time limit. The timer still applies.
The final mode is Multiplayer mode which allows you and a friend to duke it out, best on the best, one on one. This mode adds the use of items which are used to benefit yourself or cause problems for your opponent. The heart restores your timer, The bucket alters your opponents animal colours, Binoculars do as they did in the single player modes, and the most powerful piece, the Head Zoo Keeper piece changes one of your opponents animals into a penalising Head Zookeeper piece which affects their timer.\
Overall Zoo Kepper I've found is a game that grows on you. It's excellent for a game to play in between study times, on the train ride to work, or a boring long car trip. The game will have you hooked for hours on end. A non-puzzle player's fondness for the game may not be as much, but it is a game that any player can fall in love with and probably better than the real bejewled! An excellent game at great value.