Backlog Quest: Day 20 – Zoo Resort – Run a zoo by taking photos?

Dear Journal,

Today I inherited a zoo and took a bunch of photos.

Zoo Resort screams shovelware.  Developed for the 3DS by Ubisoft, the game’s whole premise basically surrounds taking photos of the animals in your pretend zoo.  Not only does the premise not sound all that impressive, but the fact that the game came out almost immediately after the 3DS launched with little to no marketing behind it threw more fuel on the shovelware fire.

So imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a kind of addictive and fun little game.

The game’s main premise is that you are given control of a zoo with only one animal currently left in it (how it survived is not made clear, but what I do know is that the elephant clearly didn’t want to talk about it).  You take photos of the animals, including the ability to do a limited number of animal feedings for better photos, to post on the zoo’s blog in order to attract more visitors to the zoo.  As you attract more visitors you gain points and the ability to (randomly) unlock more animals, expand the zoo and so on.  Each “round” or in-game day allows you to take a certain number of photos or visit a certain number of animals to take photos.  As the zoo grows you gain access to more and more animals and so it continues.  Eventually you reach a point where your level of visitors is progresses the story to completion, though you can continue to manage your zoo after if you would like.

I actually found myself choosing to not continue on for the simple fact that I knew I would end up dumping far more time into the game; for I picked it up and played it to completion without any real interruption.  It was very easy to just “do one more day” and then “do one more day” again till suddenly an hour had passed.  The fact that the animals you get are largely random (dispensed as if they are from a quarter machine in a Pizza Hut greeting area) plays into the addictive elements as well. Every attempt to get a new animal is a gamble; whether you will get a new animal, a 2nd or 3rd variant of a species you already have or just simply get nothing (in the form of an animal you already have). Adding to that side of things is the fact that all your animals have moods, with happier animals drawing more visitors, and some animals only able to “love you” when every variant of the species is in your zoo.

You also get bonuses for things such as grouping African animals together, or birds, etc. As a result you may find yourself spending more time moving the animals around the zoo to organize them, or even reading the information about the animals to know where exactly it comes from.  Seriously, the game draws you in a lot of different ways without you ever really realizing it is happening; you just suddenly come to and realize you’ve been taking photos of pretend animals for three hours. Freaky.

The game has some drawbacks though, the most notable being that while there is a lot of variance in animal selection there isn’t much of any variance in how different species of the same class of animals acts.  For instance, feeding a lion, tiger or jaguar all results in the same animation to take a photo of.  Unrelated to the animals but on the topic of photos; the scoring system for photos seems based squarely on having as much of the animal in the photo as possible and as centered as possible.  Creativity with the snapshots doesn’t really reward the player, which is unfortunate.

Those issues aside, if you are looking for something to pass the time or just an excuse to brush off the 3DS, Zoo Resort (or Zoo Resort 3D, it isn’t 100% just what this game is called) is a surprisingly fun and addictive way to do so.  It is just simple enough that you pick it up instantly and are hooked, but with enough depth to keep you going at it for some time.  Yes, the game artwork makes it look childish and dorky, but there is a little bit of a gem behind that.

Tomorrow I celebrate Halo’s birthday with Halo CE: Anniversary.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

CBR Break Down:
Console Played On
: 3DS
Time to completion: Main story took 4 hours
Gamer Score Earned: N/A – though there is an in-game achievement system
Price Bought at: $10
Current Price: $26.79 (Amazon)
Recommend Purchase Price: $10 really is a good spot for this one.
Why you should buy it: Your 3DS misses you and wants you to put something inside of it like you used to.
Why you shouldn’t buy it: You’re legally not allowed near a zoo anymore, even a digital one.

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