Back in mid-November, I went on a road trip to North Carolina to visit friends. I was going to be in the car for at least 10 hours each way. Fed up with schoolwork and regular work, I dumped $25 in my PSN wallet and purchased a bunch of games for the ride. One of these games was ZooZooGo! At $3.29, it’s a wee bit pricier than some other PSM titles, but Chris’s quick play swayed me to splurge. Lucky for me, ZooZooGo! is packed with varied content that kept me busy in the car and thensome. The name of the game here is casual puzzle play, something that ZooZooGo! definitely nails.
There are three main gameplay modes in ZooZooGo! Treasure Hunt is a match-3 puzzle game, Animahjong is a punny mahjong game, and Puzzle Quest is a slide puzzle game. In the match-3 mode, animals are scattered about a 6×6 grid. Matching 3 or more of the same animal either horizontally or vertically clears them from the board, nets you some coins, and fills up a progress bar at the right of the screen. There are 6 locales in Treasure Hunt, varying from the rainforest to the desert to the moon. Each setting has 5-6 stages of play, different animals and a gameplay twist. In the desert levels, for example, there are rocks populating the grid that have to be dropped off of the bottom of the screen. In the arctic levels, if you move a pickax next to a block of ice, you liberate bones of a woolly mammoth. These minor gameplay twists kept the game interesting. Treasure Hunt and Animahjong each have 4 unique powerups that can be activated by pressing an icon on the right side of the screen. The powerups do different things like repopulate the board or allow you to eliminate single animals for 5 seconds. You can only use each powerup 4 times, after which the game replaced its picture with a “Get More!” microtransaction link. I can’t dock the game for trying to make money, especially on something that isn’t required to fully enjoy the game.
The other microtransaction in ZooZooGo! gets you a ton of coins, which are used to unlock new worlds in Treasure Hunt and the other game modes. This isn’t a problem, either, since you get coins from playing the game anyways. It is worth noting, though, that Animahjong and Puzzle Quest are locked when you start playing the game. In order to unlock them, you have to find a golden elephant then stroke his nose. I’m not sure if there’s any rhyme or reason to how the elephant token shows up, but it doesn’t take too much playing to get it. There are also bronze monkey tokens that are used to unlock things, I think, and the help button for Treasure Hunt claims that bronze monkeys increase your chance of finding golden elephants. My advice is to just play the game; it’ll all happen eventually.
Animahjong is mahjong with animal pictures on the tiles. It works, but the tiles are a bit small and I lost a bunch of times because I didn’t have anymore powerups. Puzzle Quest is filled with slide puzzles that, surprisingly, don’t make me want to get uppercutted off of a bridge into a pit of spikes. What I mean to say is that I am awful at slide puzzles and do not like them at all, yet I was able to tackle those in ZooZooGo! with a decent amount of pleasure. The game shows you a picture of what the puzzle should look like, shuffles up the big-screen board, and asks you to reassemble it. The only powerup in this mode shows you what animals are out of place, which isn’t really too helpful.
The art style of ZooZooGo! is very cute. All of the animals are 2D oblong ovals that look something like matryoshka dolls. Each has a short (2 seconds) animation that keeps the screen alive. For instance, the lamb pulls out knitting needles and pretends to knit, the bear takes a swipe of honey from a jar, the frog sticks out his tongue, etc. In practice, I was sometimes tripped up by the visual similarities of the animals. They’re almost all the exact same size, and I found it difficult to differentiate animals that are similar colors (the mouse and the wolf, for example). Nothing gamebreaking here, but I had to stare at the screen a few times studying where I possibly could make a move. The bottom of the screen is also a bit obscured, making it hard to see what animals are there; I hardly ever matched 3 on the bottom row. The entire soundtrack consists of one tune that loops endlessly. It’s light enough and catchy enough to bore its way into your head for a long while after you turn off your system. I’m reminded of the opening theme in Puzzle Quest which repeated about one thousand times over before switching to a different song. Each animal has its own sound effect that goes off when you clear it from the screen. I can see how some may find this annoying but I didn’t really mind.
ZooZooGo! is chocked-full of content. It’s three casual puzzle games in one, and it’s perfect for pick up and play sessions. After playing for a while, check out your personal zoo. Each animal is showcased on a shelf and has a humorous bio. I recommend ZooZooGo! to anyone looking for a bunch of basic fun. It’s not the most polished PSM game I’ve played, but it has had my attention since I bought it about a month ago, something I can’t say is true about a lot of games. Check out the image gallery above for some Vita screen grabs and a spoiler about the last world in Treasure Hunt.
A copy of this game was purchased for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
What I Like:
- Cute art style
- Simple puzzling with twists to keep attention
- Will Smith reference
What I Dislike:
- Some animals look too similar
- Another music track would have been nice
- Collecting all woolly mammoth bones does nothing