I’m pretty sure I like Zooloretto. It looks great, sounds great, and I think I’m having fun while I’m playing. Why all of these maybes? Here’s an excerpt from one part of the instructions, word for word, about the scoring system:
For an enclosure with two or more empty spaces, the player only scores points if he has a vending stall on at least one of the stall spaces associated with the enclosure. In this case, the player scores 1 point for each animal in the enclosure. If a player has an enclosure with two or more empty spaces and no vending stall in the stall spaces that are associated wit the enclosure, he scores no points for the enclosure.
Ok, granted this is being taken completely out of context for you, the now perplexed reader. But I read this along with the rest of the game instructions, and had to go over it about 5 times before I completely understood. Does complicated = bad when it comes to management type games? Not at all! Monopoly has some tricky rules of it’s own, and don’t get me started on Hotels and other games that have similar building and management themes.
So what is Zooloretto? It’s a wonderfully developed and presented Zoo management game that pits you against up to 4 computer or human (pass-and-play) opponents. You must unlock the final 2 of the 3 characters to play with 5. You start off with an empty zoo, and your goal is to fill the cages with animals, thereby bringing people to your zoo, thereby gaining points that are cashed in at the end of the game to determine an winner. Oh and money too.
You take turns with the other player drawing tiles and placing them on trucks at the top right of the screen. These tiles consist of animais (male or female), vending merchants, or money. You can fill up to 3 tiles per truck, and at any given turn a player can choose to take the truck, with all of it’s tiles. So you can be filling up one for yourself, only to find it stolen by one of the other players. This adds some good strategy to the game, among other things.
Once you choose your truck, you must drag it’s contents to your zoo. Animals must go into the same cage as other of the same animals, and vending merchants are placed near cages that contain animals to get a certain amount of visitors. Some of the animals are fertile, so if you place a male and female fertile animal in a cage, they will immediately produce a baby, which helps you to fill up the exhibit.
If you get too many of the same animal or vendors, you have to place them in the barn. Other players can buy animals from your barn, or you can take them out yourself on your turn. The idea is to have as little animals/vendors in your barn at the end of the game, because you lose 2 points for each that remains. I think that’s as far as I’m going to get for gameplay without confusing you. I can tell you that it certainly is fun, but off-putting until you actually learn what everything means.
Zooloretto’s visuals and sound are both top notch. Animations of the animals, along with the sounds provides for a fun experience, and the menus and interface are good for the most part. For some reason, choosing your truck is not always accurate, and it was frustrating to accidentally choose the wrong set of tiles. The same goes for dragging animals and such onto your zoo. It just seems like touching to select isn’t always as responsive as it should be.
I should also mention that Zooloretto certainly goes out of it’s way to try to explain what’s going on. There’s a nice drop down interface during the game that will give you a one-look view at everyone’s zoo, how much money they have, and how many visitors they have. In fact, once you learn how to play the game, the menus and interface are very easy to navigate.
Presentation & Graphics
Colorful modern sprite graphics work well for this kind of game. Animations could leave something to be desired, but work well.
Soothing and happy music that doesn’t get annoying, and a nice variety of animal sounds.
Pretty fun when you actually figure out how to play it. Learning curve may be a bit too steep for some. Fans of management style board games will probably pick up on it more quickly though. Interface makes it fun and easy to get around, except for occasional mis-taps, which seem to happen a lot less after upgrading to 3.0.
I don’t see myself playing Zooloretto much by myself. However, playing with my sister was quite enjoyable. I would really like to see an eventual bluetooth multiplayer option to make it easier that pass-and-play. You can unlock 2 new opponents, but it would have been nice to see new playing boards, animals, etc unlocked as well.
Once you learn how to play, Zooloretto is a solid and entertaining version of the original board game. Technically the game is very good, from the user interface to the graphics and sound. However, without more to do, and more options and unlockables, it simply won’t be a game you come back to very often. Is it worth $4.99? Depends on who you are. It takes the original game and ports it over to the digital world quite well. It just may not be for everyone, as with other games in the genre. It’s one of those games that you enjoy more, the more time you spend playing it. Unfortunately, by that time, you may also be ready to move on to the next game.