The iPhone is an idyllic platform for board and card games. While my digits often lack the finesses to manipulate the on-screen digital pads which are predominantly featured in many arcade ‘twitch’ games, titles based on tabletop diversions typically maintain a permanent position of my primary app page. I’ve spend many hours enjoying the relaxed pace and eased control methods of Reiner Knizia’s Poison and Knights of Charlemagne, two titles that exercise the synapses far more than the trigger finger.
While Zooloretto probably won’t appeal to fans looking for catharsis in the breakneck speeds of a racer, or within the bullet clouds of a frenzied shmup, aficionados of games like Carcassonne or Settlers of Catan could easily become entranced by the game’s virtues. With a delightful presentation, and covert amount of depth, Zooloretto is the prototypical casual iPhone game.
As the title screen implies, the game is loosely based upon Michael Schacht’s board game, Coloretto. Zooloretto transposes the setting to a vibrantly drawn zoo, where the player’s goal is to maximize the park’s limited space. Players must place animals of the same species into the game’s three main pens. Later, players may purchase one additional enclosure for their burgeoning mammal enclosures.
As the start of the game, players can choose between a three to five opponent match, where rivals may be human or CPU controlled. Play is turn-based and participants may make one of three moves on their turn: they may draw a random tile, take a truck, and perform a transaction. As the game cycles through each gamer’s turn, they must strategically add animals to available trucks, which hold a finite set of zoo inhabitants. Create a hand too appealing, and the next player will grab it, but if you populate a truck with a wild assortment of animals, you may get stuck with it later. The game cleverly employs an assortment of risk/reward relationships; an underperforming player may have to adjust their strategy to remain competitive. While the title took two play-throughs to fully comprehend its tactics, the game’s concepts are moderately intuitive. An optional extension of the title’s tutorial would be a welcome supplement for novice players.
Zooloretto’s symphonic strains accompany the animal quartering well, although I wish there was more diversity in the aural output. When players tire on the main overture, they can conveniently lower the title’s volume of music, and enjoy the declarations of the game’s fauna. Graphically, the game offers an attractive game board in addition to an adorable set of hand-drawn animated animals. Monkeys pound the ground comically, and flamingos flutter their wings, adding energy to Zooloretto’s proceedings.
iPhone owners seeking an engaging and unique board-game experience should unquestionably consider a purchase of Zooloretto. Its $4.99 asking price is significantly less expensive than a comparable table-top game, while offering players hours of pleasing entertainment.