Review: Zooloretto (iPhone)

Posted by James (admin) on September 28th, 2010

After many years of having Windows-based smartphones, I decided to change to an iPhone because (a) I didn’t like the look of the new Windows phones, and (b) I saw various board games being released on iPhone.  Zooloretto was the first major conversion and was the first one I bought when I got my iPhone.

Zooloretto is a light board game that won the coveted Spiel des Jahres award.  Players are all zoo keepers with their own zoos and they try to fill their enclosures with different animals.  However, there are some difficult decisions to be made.  On their turn, a player can either draw a tile from the bag and place it on one of the delivery lorries (which have space for 3 tiles each) or they can take a lorry and keep all the tiles on it.  The tiles are either an animal, a coin or a concession stand (i.e. popcorn).

So, do you take a lorry so you get just 2 tiles but ones that you want, or do you want or risk someone else takes it before you get a chance next turn so it will have more tiles on?  Getting lots of tiles is not always good as you only have a few enclosures and only one type of animal can go in each.  Any animals that can not be placed in an enclosure must be placed in your barn and these score negatively at the end of the game.  Of course, players place tiles on the lorries in mixtures that will match their needs, but also so that they won’t match their opponents’ needs.

Concession tiles get placed in slots next to the enclosures for bonus points.  Money is used to swap animals between enclosures (as each is a different size), can buy a new enclosure and even buy animals from other player’s barns.  A few of the animals can mate to give their owner a free baby animal.

At the end of the game, players score points for their enclosures based on how full they are plus bonuses for concession stands nearby.

Zooloretto is a fun game with the right audience.  Some experienced gamers can find it too light but it’s a good entry level game for new gamers or families and I think it can offer some good, tough decision-making for any gamer as well as having push-your-luck and hinder-your-opponent elements too.  The theme is cute and easy to identify with too.

The iPhone version allows you to play solo and I’ve found I’ve played Zooloretto a lot more than I would ever play the board game, especially as it fills gaps well as games last about 15-20 minutes.

The production quality of Zooloretto on iPhone is superb.  The graphics are colourful and playful and the interface works well.  As the image above shows, your whole zoo (the same as the player board in the board game) is shown in cute 3D perspective with a little animation so it’s very easy to see your current position on a single screen.  A small button allows you to display the points value for each enclosure which is really handy.  Another button lets you view and select the actions that cost money (and grey out the ones you can’t afford).  As well as being able to swipe the screen to view each opponent’s zoo, there’s a button which lets you view every player’s current position all on one screen – this also shows the current scores too. So, the interface works really well.  Dragging-and-dropping the tiles onto the lorries and into your zoo is easy too.

When you start the game, only 3 characters (opponents) are playable.  You will play as one of them so you can only play against 2 AI players to start.  You can unlock 2 more characters (so you can play against 4 AI players at once) requires stars and stars are earned by playing the game.  You can also unlock the Polar Bear expansion (which was the first expansion for the original board game) which can be used in any game.  So, there’s some progression built in but not too much.

The AI seems to be good although you can’t set the difficulty level and I’m not sure if there’s any difference between the different characters.

There’s no online play, which I don’t mind too much, but you can play hot seat (one iPhone passed between multiple human players).  Due to the amount and speed of decisions the game requires, it doesn’t lend itself to turn-based online play (i.e. players aren’t simultaneously online but get told when it’s their turn) so not having this feature isn’t an issue like it is with some other games.

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed playing Zooloretto.  I don’t play the board game much these days, but being able to play a quick game on the iPhone has given the game new life for me.  It’s cute, enjoyable and can still deliver some difficult decisions – if only you could get a reaction from the AI when you block them off or annoy them – that would be superbly satisfying (in fact that’s true for almost any iPhone game).


[Played against 1, 2, 3 and 4 AI players]

Want to purchase Zooloretto for iPhone?
Use a link below to go to the App Store and 4% of your purchase will go towards maintaining this site (at no extra cost to you).

Zooloretto™ - Chillingo Ltd For iPhone (reviewed)

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>