Tuesday, February 11, 2014

One of the many reasons I'm glad I finally picked up Zoo Keeper 3D: it comes with an actual manual

After months of threatening to do so, I finally bought a copy of Zoo Keeper 3D--aka one of the most overlooked Japanese 3DS games around.

You may not realize or remember this, but I've long been a big fan of the first Zoo Keeper game, released for the GameBoy Advance as Zooo.

I like the DS version well enough, too, although not nearly as much as I like the GBA "original"--mostly because I consider the dual-screened iteration to be a smidge too easy.

My slight disappointment with the DS-based Zoo Keeper is what kept me from going ahead and picking up the Japan-only 3DS sequel until now, actually. I just couldn't shake the feeling that it would leave me feeling similarly let down.

I'm going to save my first impressions of Zoo Keeper 3D for a separate post that'll be published later this week (or early next), but I can share now that my initial fears were unwarranted.

Also, after playing it for a fair bit over the last few days I have to say I'm both shocked and saddened that Zoo Keeper 3D has yet to see the light of day outside Japan.

Gaining access to it via the eShop would be especially nice, in my opinion, as this is exactly the kind of game I'd like to have on my 3DS at all times.

Rather than obsess about this title's lack of a Western release, let's focus on its packaging and instruction manual and insert, which can be seen in the photos above and below.

Sadly, the manual I gushed over in this post's header isn't as fabulous as it could've been. Where are all of the adorable illustrations of the zoo's mustachioed curator that I expected to see, for instance?

Oh, well, at least the game's plastic wrapping came with a rather cute "10th Anniversary" sticker attached to it.

See also: 'For the ninth game of Christmas, the UPS man brought to me ...'


Justin Difazzio said...

I want to get some iteration of this game. It seems like something that is completely up my alley.

thegaygamer.com said...

Hey there, Justin! Even though it's my least favorite version, the DS one is really easy to find and also tends to be pretty cheap. And, really, it's not like I hate it--I just prefer the GBA and 3DS versions to it. That said, I'd say that if you're still open to playing GBA games and if you can find a cheap copy of the GBA version (Zooo--I think Euro copies tend to be pretty affordable), I'd go with that one. It's tougher than the DS version (a good thing, IMO) and the Score Attack and Time Attack modes are the best in the series.

Bodo said...

I've never played the 3DS version, but the one for DS is my favorite Zoo Keeper so far. Mainly because the level of difficulty is well balanced. Thanks Nintendo the 3DS is not codefree :-(

thegaygamer.com said...

Did you think the GBA version was too tough, Bodo? I've often found the DS version to be too easy, I'm afraid. On normal mode, for instance, I feel like it could go on forever, which isn't how I think it should be. Regardless, I'm glad to hear you like some version of this game :)

I think the 3DS version is nicely balanced, by the way, although my favorite mode ("Encho Battle") is really, really tough. Still, I keep coming back for more, so maybe that's the point?

thegaygamer.com said...

Wow, that "other" Zoo Keeper looks intense, Jess! I think I'm going to have to give it a go sometime soon. I wonder if it's on either of the Taito Legends PS2 discs I own?

Anyway, I think there's room for more than one Zoo Keeper game in the gaming world, don't you? Especially since Taito no longer exists and I doubt anyone else is going to step up and make an update of that company's offering anytime soon...

TheGameroomBlitz said...

Indeed it is! You'll find it on the first Taito Legends. I only have the Xbox version, but I presume it's identical on the PS2. The Xbox version is slightly blurry but otherwise arcade perfect.

And yeah, that's probably not a reasonable reaction, but I'm just full of those! Take the recent brand switch from Namco-Bandai to Bandai-Namco... I took my grievances to a forum full of other Gen X gaming nerds, but nobody else seemed to think it was a big deal. It sure was to me, though. -_-'''

thegaygamer.com said...

Ah, that's good to know -- that Zoo Keeper's likely on one of the Taito Legends PS3 discs I own. I'll have to check for sure this weekend.

As for your negative reaction to Bandai-Namco Gate: I can understand, to an extent. I mean, Bandai hardly has the best reputation or history in the gaming world. I think they're more highly regarded in other markets/industries, though, aren't they?

All that said, I don't really care what the company wants to call itself these days. All I care about is whether or not it releases games that are of interest to me.

Hyper Emerson said...

Zookeeper's good point is usually letting the player set up combos even as blocks are still falling, which feels hella fun. Bejeweled only started using this feature on the third main game, right?

For people with smartphones, I recommend the Battle online-multiplayer version, which is good fun despite some luck factor and silly sidequests that have nothing to do with puzzles.

I look foward to reading your opinion on this 3DS version. I wonder if it features a ending? The DX smartphone version is said to have a surprisingly tearjerking one...

Hyper Emerson said...

The GBA version had the infamous Quest mode from the browser version, didn't it? It had a bunch of objectives that were practlcally impossible to complete properly due to the random nature of the falling blocks. I hope the 3DS version didn't do it again!

thegaygamer.com said...

All of the portable versions have a Quest mode, HE, although I honestly couldn't tell you how they differ, as I don't often play that mode in any version of the game.

thegaygamer.com said...

Yes, the combos in this series are a lot of the fun, HE. I also like some of the modes that have appeared in some of the versions -- such as the Score and Time Attack modes in the GBA version and the new "Encho Battle" mode in this 3DS version.

I have to say, although I far prefer Zoo Keeper 3D to Touch Detective: Funghi's Big Breed (also made by the folks at BeeWorks/Success, I believe), I really hope the next iteration of Zoo Keeper (if there is one) implements one of the best things about Funghi's Big Breed -- that being the "rule" that allows you to match four pieces in a square pattern (which prompts the 12 surrounding pieces to disappear, too) and also rewards you for matching four or more pieces in a row by ridding the game field of the rest of the pieces in that row.

The above changes really make the normal/main mode of Funghi's Big Breed feel more exciting and energetic than the corresponding mode in Zoo Keeper -- or at least that's the case with me.

That said, I don't often find myself playing the normal mode in ZK. Instead, I tend to the Score Attack and Time Attack modes in the GBA game and the Score Attack and Encho Battle modes in the 3DS game. Still, it would be great if I had more of a reason to play the normal/main mode once in a while.

SpeLinnea said...

You are reading my thoughts! :D I was looking for zoo keeper 3d just last week. I was disappointed it did not get a western release at all.

I hope you enjoy the game, and that the cutscenes have that cute look we recognize from the series. Take care! :)

thegaygamer.com said...

Yeah, not only is it disappointing that the game never got released in the west, but it's even more disappointing that you can't import the damn thing and play it unless you have a Japanese 3DS.

The game's definitely just as cute as past iterations, by the way. In fact, I'd actually say it's cuter. Some of the things that happen on the top screen while you play are really precious :)