Simple gameplay seems to be the best way to foster the most addictive games these days. The more complicated matters get, the less likely you are to obsessively and compulsively play something to the point of nausea. Maybe this is why puzzle games have always been and will continue to be the undying niche of gaming. Aside from saving the world or killing hordes of the undead, every now and then you want something that’s easy to jump into and play for 10 minutes yet addicting enough that you can’t put it down.
ZOOO fits into this category to a tee. It’s a very simple and fun game – match up 3 of the same animal to watch the critters disappear. Keep at this pace to advance to higher difficulties, which in turn up the pressure by reducing the amount of time you have to find matches. Lining up animals in sets of 3 or more or chaining together matches in combos gives you more time, which promptly dives back down to the danger level.
That’s all there really is to it; there’s a few different modes of play to spice up the different angles you can attack ZOOO from, but it’s all about the core matching aspect. What makes it so different from most other GBA puzzle games (and puzzle games in general) is that you can only make matches by moving one piece at a time. Reactive twitch/spaz gamers like myself are used to being able to run around a screen and manipulate everything in order to get match ups. ZOOO is a deliberate puzzler though, where you have to see where matchups can be made in one move, and how those matches will either help or hurt further one-move matches.
When it comes right down to it, there are a lot of equally good and impressive puzzle games out there. What ZOOO does, it does well yet it never really stands out – at least from a superficial standpoint. It sounds and looks decent, yet never really grabs your attention. All that’s really there is the gameplay itself – easy to understand and highly fun, thus pushing you to improve as you play. Yet there a LOT of puzzle games that do the same thing, albeit with more pizzazz. So if you’re looking for a thinker’s puzzler, look no further than ZOOO; if you’re intent on finding the next big thing for the genre, you may want to look elsewhere.