If you purchased a Nintendo DS at launch then Zookeeper should be a game that’s familiar to you. It launched alongside the handheld in all three territories and, Super Mario 64 DS aside, it was one of the few games launch games worth buying. Ping Pals, The Urbz and Sprung: The Dating Game weren’t quite what we’d consider to be system-sellers, to put it politely.
This is the second rendition of Zookeeper to arrive on the App Store, but unlike Zookeeper DX: Touch Edition there’s no single-player mode to play through here.
Online battles lasting around five minutes against opponents from all over the world are what’s on offer, but don’t ask us why the colourful critters are fighting one another. We haven’t got a bloody clue.
The idea is to play four 30 second matches. At the end of each a short animation occurs during which your chosen animal throws projectiles at the opposition. Matching three or more of the elephant or hippo tiles builds up your defences while matching the rest of the animal tiles adds to your attack power. Get your attack power higher than 100 and your critter will go into hyper drive, causing extra damage.
There are a few different power-ups that can turn matches in your favour. Binoculars highlight all tiles that can be swapped while the random tile will remove all those of one kind. There’s also a power-up which will coat your opponent’s tiles in mud, thus making them very hard to tell apart.
Every now and then there’s the chance to top-up your health bar. It can be a life-saver, but when your opponent receives one even though their health bar is far from low, it seems very unfair. Being a freemium title there are a few extras available to give you an edge over the competition, and vice versa.
Presentation is bold and colourful, and at the time of typing there’s no shortage of players to battle against. At the start and end of each battle you can pick pre-selected greetings to use, just like in Mario Kart and many of Nintendo’s other online games. The rating system is also similar to that seen in Mario Kart Wii – you start off with a base score of 4,000 and then points are added or deducted if you win or lose matches respectively.
The ability to ask for an instant rematch, opponent willing, helps to keep the battles flowing and we’re happy to say that the music has been improved since the DS original. If you never played it, the music during the main game played on a ten second loop which soon became very irritating.
A single-player mode would have made this package feel more complete, but for those wanting to test their tile matching mettle against players from all over the world this is a recommended download.
iTunes App Store: free