Review: Zoo Frenzy (DSiWare)

Another odd mix of different genres from Gameloft

Gameloft is rather fond of porting their back catalogue to Nintendo's download services. This time, however, it seems that they've created an entirely new game specifically for DSiWare. An odd mixture of simulation and strategy, with some light RPG elements thrown in for good measure.

The premise is that there's an area of the world with very special animals indeed. They can talk to humans, although only a few select people are worthy enough to be spoken to. Of course, to keep things as interesting as possible, you are one of these people. Recently, the animals have been attacked by monsters and have, for the most part, been driven off, which means you'll have to try and get their numbers back up high.

To do this, you'll have to build a makeshift zoo and garner attention from all over the world to earn money, which you can then put towards training your animals. Once they're sufficiently trained, they can go out to other regions to defeat monsters and rescue other animals.

You start off with a few animals already under your care, and, after doing some tasks for the zoo's manager, you'll also have some money to purchase a few basic buildings with, like a food factory and a training facility. Pretty much anything you do with buildings once they've been constructed culminates in a simple minigame; for example, creating food in the food factory makes you play a simple match-three puzzle game, while the training facility has three different minigames, each for training one specific stat of one specific animal at a time, such as evading hockey pucks on slippery ice as long as possible.

You can simply purchase additional animals, but that isn't exactly a good way to preserve your income. If you want to get new ones for free, you're going to have to train animals you already have. Once you're confident they're pretty strong, you can then take them to another region of the world, which is inhabited with monsters. Taking control of your animal, you can then run around and battle these creatures, which really just consists of running up to them and alternately attacking each other, hoping you continuously deal a lot of damage.

After killing 10 monsters, the location of one animal will be "revealed." You can then simply ignore the remaining monsters and rush towards this spot to get a new animal for your zoo. After this, you generally get to kill another 10 monsters to rescue another animal, and so forth.

As you get more, different types of animals and build up some success, you'll start to unlock additional areas to keep your animals in. Obviously, penguins and other cold climate animals wouldn't be particularly suitable to put in a zoo in a forest! This means that you'll have not just one, but several zoos to keep track of. Just hire some staff and keep a general eye on things and it should be ok. Try as hard as you can to avoid operating at a loss — if your money should ever fall below zero, the game will automatically end.

Aside from keeping enemies healthy and training them to fight monsters, there's plenty of additional things to do. The aforementioned minigames all help with the performance of your animals, and you can also opt to go fishing or cooking, then selling the result for some extra cash.

Graphically, the game is quite pleasing. There is a moderate amount of detail to everything and it all actually looks fairly cute, which is of course exactly what it's trying to achieve. As with most Gameloft games, the sound isn't particularly interesting and won't really stand out.

Conclusion

Overall, Zoo Frenzy is a nice blend of a few different genres. If you're a simulation nut you'll get the most out of this game, but strategy fans and even minigame lovers should not walk away disappointed. It's not particularly great in anything it does, but it still does a pretty good job, and as such is another nice addition to the DSiWare library.

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