If nothing else
credit must be given to developer PuzzleKings for creating a wholly
unique puzzle game, which is quite a rarity in this day and age of
countless Tetris clones. They had a great idea for a different kind
of puzzle game, and created it. Unfortunately, the actual finished
product doesn't quite measure up to the promise of the unique
simple: in the center of the screen is a cube (six sides), and it’s
the player’s job to control it. Random animal shapes will fall
towards the cube from all sides with the objective being to match up
two of the same kind of animal on a side. Get two of the same animal
in a row and they’ll disappear, but stack up one side of the cube
higher than five animals and it’s game over. The cube can be
rotated with both analog sticks, which once adjusted to allows the
skilled player to rotate the cube to any side they please almost
instantly. Like Tetris the pieces can be sped up for additional
points, and once they’re "locked in" they’ll move with
that side no matter where it’s turned to. The result is a frantic
gaming experience that requires the player to be mindful of all six
sides at once.
core of it really, but it’s a bit deeper than that. A number of
power-ups can be gained both by balancing all six sides of the cube
(ex: two animals on each side) and accelerating the descent of
different animal shapes. These range from things that simply award
more points to items that help clear animals off the cube. Also, the
different animals stacked up on one side of your cube can be
switched out with others below. So if an alligator is falling
towards a side with another alligator two places down, the player
can rotate the alligator up to make a match.
In the end the
gameplay in ZooCube is a nice change of pace from the
hundreds of Tetris clones out there and a welcome bit of
variety in the genre, but it lacks the addictive quality every
puzzle game so desperately needs. It’s too complex to be a
mindless pick up and play title, but not really deep enough to
challenge and reward advanced players.
The graphics are
a disappointment. While the different animal pieces are animated
nicely and the game features some very rich colors, the backgrounds
are a disappointment. Only the basic of graphic features (a little
light-sourcing here, some reflection there, etc.) are featured in
the backgrounds, and they're extremely static with only some basic
animation. The movie clips that tell the story look good enough, but
they're pretty generic and don’t really give ZooCube a
distinct "personality". Given that there's not a lot going
on here as it is, the overall bland look of this game is a
everything is just average. There's music here and it sounds OK, but
it doesn't stand out. Just good accompaniment to the gameplay and
nothing more. The different animals all sound just as they should,
but it's not going to impress the player or anything.
- Unique take
on the puzzle genre.
- The animal
animations and FMVs are clearly aimed at younger gamers, and do
a good job at appealing to that demographic.
- Just doesn't
have that special "something" that makes it as
addictive as Tetris.
- The graphics
could've been so much better.
Thanks to the
horribleness of Tetris
Worlds, ZooCube is currently the best pure puzzle
game on the GameCube (unless you count Super Monkey Ball). It
doesn't set a new standard in the genre or anything, but hopefully
it'll push more puzzle game developers to try new ideas. Worth
a shot if you're a big fan of the genre.