Its no secret that the invention of the smart phone has increased the popularity of casual games in the form of match making. For the longest time Candy Crush Saga was the king of this realm and people loved it. There have been many others that jumped onboard with this genre with names like Pokémon Café mix, and Marvel puzzle quest creating fun and time killing games. One particular game that caught my attention is Zookeeper World. This franchise has been around since the early 2000’s and I was eager to see how it holds up as a mobile game.
Zookeeper World is a match-3 puzzle game that landed on Apple Arcade in August of 2021. The franchise has its roots planted way back in 2003 when it was released as an arcade title called Zoo keeper. The game was then ported to the Nintendo Game Boy Advanced which moved it into the mobile game arena. Proving to have success with consumers the game released on PS2 for the EU and a new version was released on the Nintendo DS worldwide
The stages in Zookeeper world have you match three matching animal tiles in order to remove those from the board. Matching four tiles will produce a combo dropping fruit that explodes and clears small portion of the board. A tutorial is used to introduce and explain the mechanics of the game, I found the tutorial was quick and to the point and not a nuisance like some other game tutorials. The puzzles are fun and challenging with elements like destroying boxes to increase the playing field, uncovering park tickets that are hidden by grass on the board, and ice that causes tiles to slide so they can never occupy that space. Helpful items are included like a crane and boxing glove. These items help the player remove a single tile and add it to their inventory or clear a large portion of the board. Aside from matching the tiles players will also match and collect coins that is used as one of the in-game currency, the other being gems.
Players have a set amount of moves that can used to complete the stage’s challenge. Throughout the stages players will fill a star icon during game play when the player completes the stage, they will receive bonus points that continue to fill this star gauge. When the player collects 10 stars, they can spend those stars on a prize wheel that lands some great rewards.
Helpful items are introduced in the form of a crane and boxing glove and boosts in the form of a Pineapple, Rainbow star and a Boss head. All of these items help the player collect more tiles when they are in a pinch but when they are used up the player must replenish them with in game currency like gems.
To add more content to the game, A “Giant Robo Boss” which is basically a giant robot that looks exactly like your boss in the game will attack your zoo. You are then tasked with battling this boss in three stages. With these stages you must complete a given task within a time limit. One such tasks is removing all animals from the game board with only 1 move and you only have 30 seconds to complete the stage. Eventually this will lead to a final showdown with the Robo boss, and you need to match animals to attack him and bring his health down to zero.
Aside form the matching stages the player is tasked with maintaining their zoo. This involves purchasing and adding different animals and decorations that improve on the zoo’s charm. Zoo visitors and the boss will ask the player to include different animals and decorations, this helps increase the charm of the zoo even further. This element of the games adds sort of an RPG vibe to the game, which I really like.
The game is also visually impressive. With a great color array and cute animals you are likely to spend hours just looking at different elements of the game. The game also includes a picture mode that can be used to take pictures of your zoo and share them to different social media platforms. This adds a bit of social element to the game that I really liked.
Zookeeper World is a free-to-play game at its core, these types of games usually have some kind of mechanic that prevents you from playing the game until a time limit us reached, this could be an energy meter that is depleted after a set amount of plays, or a count down timer that needs to expire before the next level starts. This is not the case with Zookeeper world. The game is included with Apple Arcade which removes the free-to-play elements allowing the player to enjoy hours of game play with out hitting a pay wall. This to me adds another level to the game that kept me engaged if not for that I would have put the game down early on.
Finally, players will not be disappointed with content in this game. The game currently has 300 levels to play through. Special events are added such as a Christmas event that allows players to purchase Christmas related items like snowmen and Christmas trees. Daily challenges are included that give the player extra tasks to complete and provide rewards in the form of coins and decorations.
Zookeeper World turned out to be a great game that has interesting elements and fun game play. The levels can get tough and sometimes I found myself play levels a few times over before I won. The auto generated board sometimes felt like it was setup to prevent me from winning that level, but with the game being an Apple Arcade title I could replay the levels as much as I wanted with out the fear of being blocked by an energy timer. If you are looking for a casual game to play through this would definitely be one to pick up.