If you have ever tried Wonder Zoo - Animal Rescue!, Zoo Paradise or Tap Zoo then you'll get the hang of the mechanics in no time. When it comes to Zoo Story's controls, what you see is what you get. All you'll need to do is to tap on animals and make use of the game's simple menu system to purchase new enclosures, grow crops and add attractions to draw in a bigger crowd. As this is a familiar formula to anyone who has tried any management sim game, the mechanics are quite intuitive.
Release Date: 05/03/2012
Available on: iOS, Tablet, Mobile, Android
Familiar can be Good
The only unique addition here is the method of acquiring food for the creatures in your park. To amass enough food for your animals, you will need to channel your inner farmer and cultivate crops yourself. Keeping them happy is the key to earning money for the zoo, which in turn allows you to expand.
We applaud the game for limiting its mandatory wait times. Cashing out animal earnings usually takes only 5 minutes or less. At most, it only takes around 15 minutes for any of your zoo stars to add to your pool of resources. Compared to other titles which force you to wait anywhere from a few hours to the whole day, this is a refreshing change of pace. This is especially useful for anyone who tends to spend longer than a couple of minutes managing their game instead of just logging in quick and moving on to other titles. Of course, you will still need to keep track of the amount of time your crops need to grow before they are ready to be harvested. Forgetting to check back in time will result in spoiled food.
The Waiting Game
Being a freemium game, there are reasonable restrictions in place to encourage players to shell out. Every action you perform in Zoo Story costs energy and this is limited, that is, unless you're patient. As is the standard for casual mobile games, energy points recharge over time. If you simply cannot wait to add that new enclosure, then you can opt to make in-app purchases for a refill. As for the animals, there are 17 species which can only be obtained exclusively using gems --Zoo Story's premium content which may be purchased with hard earned cash. Only 5 are available using the in-game currency but at least these are enough to help you gauge the game. If you're planning to show this title to a younger player, decide beforehand if you're going to allow in-app purchases or not, lest you run the risk of unwanted bills.
Fun Comes for Free
The music is upbeat and catchy. It doesn't get tiring to listen to even if you've been playing for hours on end. The graphics are cute but aren't really the best out there. Unlike Wonder Zoo's lifelike animations, those found in Zoo Story are repetitive and are restricted to mere blinking and nodding. The actual illustrations are adorable though and the color palette is vibrant.
The social aspect of the game is to be expected but it is a welcome feature nonetheless. If you wish to show off your zoo to your friends and family, it is possible to take a photo of your park to save on the device or even publish on Facebook. You can also tour other zoos and leave messages on people's walls.
The downside is that this title lacks any real wow factor. We were hoping for something new, like mini games to play or perhaps cooperative zoo management, but there's none to be found. Perhaps even expanding on the harvesting aspect of the game would have been enough to make a lasting impression. TeamLava has been consistent in meeting expectations though they also don't try much to surpass it.
The Verdict: It Grows on You
We recommend playing Zoo Story if you're a veteran of Facebook management games and would like to have one you can easily access on your mobile device. It does need a continuous connection to play, but at least you can jump to the action once the game loads up. This title is out on Google Play and it was available for the iOS initially but has since been pulled out. If you only have an Apple device, you may want to check out its sequel, Zoo Story 2.
Zoo Story is developed by TeamLava Games.