Zoo Frenzy (DSiWare)

Game Review

Zoo Frenzy Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

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.


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.

From the web

User Comments (30)



Bankai said:

Ok, so in this review you've gone to great lenghts to explain what you do in this game, but no analysis on how good it is, except in the very last paragraph where you say it looks pretty.

There's no mention of the extensive load times every time you move your character into a new area. There's no mention that managing the park is extremely difficult, as the various bits of information are hidden within menu after menu - and to get a proper overview of the park you have to do a lot of wading through those menus.

You cant' even get a basic idea of how popular your park is, because the "visitors" in the park aren't shown graphically, unless its someone you talk to. Ie the game might say there's 150 people in the park, but you'll only see 10, at most, on the screen. This makes it very difficult to tell, at a glance, whether your park is filling up or emptying.

There's no mention of the RPG side of the game being so simple, it's boring. There's no way to customise your characters - you get a basic attack and a special attack, that's it. There's all of five enemies in the game - one per battle area, and some palette swapping.

There's no mention of how terrible the story or dialogue is - that it could have been written by a 10-year old is no exaggeration.

Please, guys, if you're going to review a game, then review it. Don't just describe it and then give it an arbitary score. I hope the people who read the review also read this to get an idea about what the game is really like.



Bankai said:

Hey, I'm trying to help out here. Second opinions and all that.

@ Tony - actually, this has nothing to do with Gameloft. If the review of a game I liked was similarly descriptive, rather than analytic, I would make a similar response. The responcibility of a game review is to critique, not describe.



theblackdragon said:

@WaltzElf: You've mentioned more than a few times in threads here and there that you're a 'video game journalist' or whatever, and that you also review games. If you don't like what this review had to say, you're in a rather unique position, my friend, because you can write your own and post it on the site you work for to show off your Gameloft hate-boner to bring balance to the internets. :3



Bankai said:

Please do read above. This doesn't have anything to do with Gameloft, it has to do with the review itself. I disagree with it based on the way it was written. That's it. Good bad, bad game, whatever - games are subjective and there's simply no point in arguing whether a game is "good" or not, anyway.

I've also mentioned a number of times in the past that I really enjoy this site, but there are occasions where it comes through more as a fan site than a authority. If you don't like my advice, then fine, but a basic rule of a critique (game, book, film, whatever) is there's analysis within the review.



Gizmo said:

What's so wrong with WaltzElfs opinion? I agree with him that the responcibility of a game review is to critique, not describe.



WAIW said:

Thanks for the opinions, WaltzElf.

I don't really see how calling a game out for serious issues like extensive issues and shallowness makes a person a 'hater'.



Bankai said:

To be fair, I haven't had anything good to say about Gameloft on these forums, and I personally have yet to enjoy one of the Gameloft games.

But I wasn't really criticising the game here, just point out that the review didn't really give people an idea of how good it is.

I'm sorry if I upset anyone. I was just trying to help



KnucklesSonic8 said:

Actually, I'm leaning towards concurring with WaltzElf despite his lack of appreciation for Gameloft. Although I appreciated the informativeness of the review, it didn't go into too much detail as to how good/enjoyable the game was/wasn't. Would've appreciated that. Otherwise, good review.



Bankai said:

Hi Kuckles,

I'm glad someone understood I wasn't complaining about a reviewer liking the game



Chunky_Droid said:

WaltzElf has critiqued my journalism ability in the past aswell. I appreciated the words he/she had personally, as I'm sure he/she has more experience and possibly some sort of after high school degree to back them up.

He/she's entitled to their opinion, as is everyone else. Though I will say as well as Des mentioned that I haven't seen a review from this person either so it's not like I can critique his/her view either.



Wesbert said:

@ WaltzElf: Why do you claim there to be no mention of the "RPG side of the game" being "so simple, it's boring" in the review? I think "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" conveys that message rather nicely.
As for the story, does anyone seriously expect a downloadable minigame-driven zoo-keeping game to have a grand or even interesting story? In such games, the story is hardly ever more than an extended tutorial, introducing you to the features of the game, and the odd cheesy line about your goals and motivations, so a story that sounds like it "could have been written by a 10-year old" is precisely what I'd expect. It would only have been worth mentioning if the story was not what you'd expect (for example, if it was deep or captivating).
Looking at the screens, you can easily see why displaying more than 10 people at any time would hardly make the game easier to manage.
I thought the review was good and contained all the info I really would need as a potential customer.

Sorry for nitpicking, but I merely wanted to give you a little taste of your own medicine



Percentful said:

@waltz-elf I'm not saying you're lying, but can you honestly tell me you would get as worked up over this if it wasn't a Gameloft game? You have a track record of hating on Gameloft games, so this wouldn't exactly be any different.



Rerun said:

@waltz-elf constructive criticism is always welcome and the concerns that you raised are valid

I appreciate Nintendolife and all the people who take time to review the games. Personally, if there isn't any praise voiced by the reviewer I take it that there's really nothing that stands out as far as the game is concerned.



Bankai said:

@ 110percentful - Sure. If I read a review of a game I really like, and felt it had similar problems, I would say so. I can't remember which game it is now, but I made a similar comment on an IGN review on a game I liked, but the review itself was written terribly.

From the game side of things, I completely disagree with giving this game a positive review, but I didn't mention that at all in my comments, because the reviewer is fully entitled to recommend a game he/ she thinks is worth playing. I just would have liked the reviewer, in this case, to back up that score with something of substance. I can read the press release for a description of the game.

I should probably put in the disclaimer again because people will forget and see read - Nintendolife is a great site, and I do hope the team (all great people, as far as I can tell) take the advice on-board, because I think the game has the potential to be far more 'professional' than 99% of the gaming sites out there.



Namo said:


I agree. This isn't the first time I've seen a shoddy review here. The reviewers here give low/high scores either unjustified or justified too much. Just check out the Rayman DSiware review. The reviewer goes on and on about how the screen being too small makes the game too difficult, when really Rayman is just a genuinely hard game, and its apparent he never actually finished it.

If some of the reviewers here would take some of our advice at heart rather than face-value, this site could get so much better. But at current it's almost like some reviews have a bias.



Chunky_Droid said:

@Namo: I would say a lot of reviewers seem to have bias, no matter which site you go to. I hear complaints all the time about IGN's WiiWare reviews for instance, and there's a lot of gold on that platform that doesn't get the recognition it deserves. Not to say that the reviewers here are to be gospel or anything, I'm just trying to make the point that a lot of reviewers are going to be bias someway or another.



Namo said:

@Chunkeh Droid

True, but its still annoying. I kind of tend to avoid reviews and learn whether or not a game is good by actually playing it for myself. Yes, I've bought games that have sucked before, but I've also ended up buying games that reviewers gave low scores on and enjoyed greatly. Do a google search for "The Sentinel Returns."

By the way, yes, this game isn't that good. I'd give it a 5 and a half.



Crunc said:

I tend to think that Gameloft's games are a bit like lackluster brand-x versions of other company's games. Not necessarily bad, just not even close to great either. You can be sure you'll get something kind of fun, but not all there. Magic Castle is a good example. That game is OK, and reasonably priced on the DSi, and the camera integration is amusing (indeed probably the best part of the game), but it's not even nearly anything great. They are just going for par, and they succeed.



pink_dsi_26 said:

This game is entertaining and cute, but the story mode doesnt last very long, and you cant really make the zoo of your dreams. This game is definitely one for the kids.



grumblegrumble said:

I think it's a pretty good game (as the review here on NL states perfectly) not great at anything but good overall... I think the cutesy characters, animals and dialogue are part of its charm, however, so i disagree with some of you. I give it a 7/10, good little game!



ShadowDX1 said:

I wouldnt say that its for kids. Its pretty fun for almost all ages. The story mode is short, but i like the game better in free mode. I would give it an 8-10



DemonnPrincess said:

I dunno...WaltzElf can say what he want, but it seems to me like he was picking on the reviewer more than he was trying to help the guy.



KoopaStarRoad said:

I remember playing a lot of this when I was smaller and not understanding what I had to do. It was really frustrating when you had so much animals and then got blank (Game Over) and now have lost EVERYTHING. ;_;
Maybe I'll try it again.

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