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Zooloretto for the iPhone/iPod Touch. Developer: Spinbottle Games Publisher: Chillingo


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.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

30 comments

  1. I love a site that has 1,000 word reviews on iPhone games. You guys are full of awesome.

  2. Good review. The only game I have heard of in this review was Carcassone which the girlfriend and I love.

  3. I’m a sucker for cute pandas heading to itunes now.

  4. Wi-fi multi or pass it around?

  5. Looks like a happy game. real zoos are sad places with unhappy animals.

  6. Didn’t this game have a bug that made it unwinnable?

  7. Play more accelerometer games if you don’t like the virtual d-pad.

  8. Wow, graphics looks like a pc game! Nice.

  9. that was in v.1.00, it’s been fixed now.

  10. Sounds boring. Maybe fun for kids.

  11. This game is more my thing than Graviton.

  12. So you can only buy one extra pen for animals?

  13. Seems worthy of a try.

  14. One day German board games will take over the world. You guys thought it would be aliens.

  15. Too damn cute!

  16. How long is each game?

  17. I think you’re missing the point, then.

  18. I was just looking for a game like this. Thanks for the info.

  19. You guys are some iPhone-loving fools.

  20. Looks cool. I might wait for a summer sale, though.

  21. *in girly voice* Awww, so cute!

    Haha, just kidding.

  22. Yep, embarrassingly cute.

  23. I played four games and I just am beginning to understand the game.

  24. Purchased, and Im a bit happier with Iphone gaming. Seriously, this is the first game I really like.

  25. Reminds me of a children’s book.

  26. I am loving Poison! Anyone know of any similar iphone games?

  27. Really cool little board game. At first I thought it was going to be a sim zoo.

  28. it’s pretty. still not buying an iphone but it’s pretty.

  29. Interesting game. I might get purchase it for my iphone.

  30. indeed,carcassone is awesome!. 5.00 though I’ll wait on this one to drop,I got alot of other games to play atm.