Thursday, 12 November 2015

Zoo Keeper - Arcade


You're a keeper, in a zoo. Speaks for itself really.


The further back in history I with regards to video games, the more obscure, random and quite frankly, uniquely interesting I seem to find the games to be. 1982, a fantastic year even if I do say so myself, brought about such games as Q*Bert, Lasso, Dig-Dug and of course, Zoo Keeper.

It has a nice demo to let you know the scoring system.

The story, if one wants to call it that, is you playing the role of the eponymous Zoo Keeper and are tasked with keeping a large assortment of various animals caged up within pens and if any of those were to escape, to capture them and return them to the pen before they escape again. At the same time, you'll be running around the edge building the walls up to try and keep the creatures penned in so when the timer runs out, you get points for each animal within the boundaries of the pen. Whether those boundaries are still there or not don't matter.

Different animals will cause different levels of damage

Extra levels appear that deviate from the norm with platforming sections that require the player to jump from one to another, while avoiding a mischievous monkey that lobs coconuts at you in order to save a damsel-in-distress before a few more cage levels, then another platform section and finally the last level, which pits you against a stampede of animals all hell-bent on killing you and you get to hop over them to get another life.

Building up your layers will help keep the animals secured.

Zoo Keeper manages to find that happy medium of being a platform puzzler. The area in which most of your play takes place, will have you running around the outer walls of a pen, jumping over and around animals while hoping for the net to put into the game space so that you can capture the animals. While running, the walls underneath your keeper are built up, layer by layer, in order to try and stop the animals from escaping. Knowing where and when to run next forms the puzzle while the leaping (and gravity defying wall running) forms the platforming aspects. This is amplified by the bonus levels where in it's all about platforming and timing.

Whoo!! Points!!

The sounds for Zoo Keeper are a little grating at times but hardly the fault of the game and designers given the hardware available and every animal has distinct noises by which to identify. The music plays fairly well and almost recognisably well when the more well-known pieces are played. Walls being laid have a distinctly solid and synthetic sound to them and dying has a suitably foreboding presence added to it with the audio ambience.

A little big of variation between levels to save the "princess"

Graphically, it's rather simple. Black background but nice bright images and sprites for our heroic Zoo Keeper, though the animals take a little bit of artistic licensing to be able to recognise them, but otherwise the game plays smoothly and for the most part, everything looks like it's intended image target.

You can also die trying and meet a game over...

As a game, it's fast, fluid, a little quirky and brought down by slightly awkward controls when it comes to running around the pen and changing from running on the bottom to the sides as the overarching control guidance may change mid-jump, depending upon where and when the player jumps to avoid the animals. As such, a few lives can be expected to be lost to misinterpreting the controls and not being entirely sure as to why it happened.