iPhone

  News 
  Reviews
  Previews
  Hardware
  Interviews
  All Features

Areas

  3DS
  Android
  iPad
  iPhone
  Mac
  PC
  PlayStation 3
  Vita
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Media
  Archives
  Search
  Contests

 

Jane's Zoo

Score: 91%
ESRB: 4+
Publisher: G5 Entertainment
Developer: Realore Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle (Time Management)

Graphics & Sound:

Jane's Zoo is a delightful time management simulation where you get to run your own zoo, essentially. The palette of colors is sunny and bright and the characters are adorable. The locales for your three zoos are Europe, Africa and China, although aside from a few decorative touches, they look very similar, for the most part. There's a whole lot of stuff crammed onto the tiny iPhone screen, but it is normally easy to tell which animal you are working with and that's a good thing.

The animals you'll be caring for include an elephant, ostrich, skunk, lion, monkey, zebra, otter, hippo, peacock and a trio of penguins, and they are all nicely designed. While they are very tiny on the main screen, when you click on them to interact with them in a mini-game, it is really easy to see their expressions and they are quite cute. The reason you need to be able to see their expressions is because sometimes they will indicate how well you are doing in the mini-game, but more on that in the Gameplay section. There are delightful little touches all around the main screen such as the penguins frolicking by sliding across their area, the peacock making a squeal and revealing its graceful plumage, or the various animals laying down because they need to go to the Hospital. You'll even see litter strewn about their areas when they need a clean-up job and it accurately represents whatever they've been eating like apple cores or fish bones.

The soundtrack is very upbeat and peppy and I really liked it. I'll catch myself bounching to the music while I play. The sound effects take the cake, however. When you are given a new animal for your zoo, it comes to you as an infant, so you'll have to give it bottles and change the diapers. When you change the diapers, the infant animal makes little cooing, happy baby sounds. It's extremely cute. The adult animals respond to your actions with their own little sounds as well and it's pleasant to hear a tiny little lion roar coming from your iPhone.


Gameplay:

In Jane's Zoo, you play as Jane, working to help zoos become a better place for the animals who reside there. The basis for this game has a strong ecological thrust and a nice message about helping wildlife and working against pollution. You'll begin your quest in a European zoo and you'll have a helper in Uncle Ben. Each of you will have specific tasks to complete and you'll have two overlapping tabs at the bottom of the screen. Jane will be responsible for feeding and watering the animals, whereas Uncle Ben will have to make repairs to the houses and do the clean-up and such, when necessary. There are also a total of seven different facilities that the animals can visit and these are located on the top of the playing field, however you have to unlock them as you progress through the levels. These include the Hospital, the Gym, the Barber (with separate areas for washing and drying), the Manicure area, the Play House and the Music House.

When an animal has a need, a small icon appears over them, indicating what they want. They may need food or water, their grass may need watering or their area may need cleaning. They may need to go to the Hospital, exercise, get their toenails clipped, be soothed by some music, play a game or get washed and dried. When you see the icon, you must click on the animal, which essentially has you lift the animal up with a sort of "God hand" and then you drop them where they are requesting to go. If you do the task quickly, you earn bonus points, however the longer you take, the more the animal's patience depletes, as shown by the icon box changing colors from green to yellowish to red. You'll complete the mini-games that pop up for each area and these earn you money which goes toward your Goal. Once you have met your Goal and the "day" draws to an end as shown on the clock in the top right corner, you can move on to the next level.

As your days go by, you may have inclement weather that affects your zoo. It could be rain, snow or tornados, depending on the area. When you see the bad weather moving in, you need to move each animal into his respective house until it passes and then clean up the resulting mess afterwards. You'll always see icons when you need to either take an animal in or out of his house. There is also an annoying crow that flies about and will sometimes light on the roof near one of your animals, aggravating them. If you don't tap the crow to shoo it away, your animal gets upset, costing you points.


Difficulty:

In Jane's Zoo, there are two difficulty settings, Normal and Expert. Normal is recommended if you don't play a lot of time management games and Expert is recommended for those who are accustomed to playing this style of game. While I didn't beat the entire game on Expert (but I did on Normal), I did play a number of levels and didn't notice an obvious difference. The Goals may be a little more difficult to achieve. On the Normal difficulty setting, it is fairly easy to beat Jane's Zoo's 39 levels, even getting the Expert Goal on most of them.

Even given the iPhone's tiny screen, I found most tasks fairly easy to accomplish, however I did notice that on some tasks, I had to use the side of my finger to tap instead of the fingertip. This may have something to do with my fingernails getting in the way, though. The only mini-game that I found frustrating was the Music House because you had a tiny keyboard and you had to tap notes in a specific order and I found I accidentally often tapped the note next to the one I had intended, and I have pretty small hands, mind you. So people with larger fingers may have some trouble.


Game Mechanics:

Jane's Zoo requires tapping the screen for every action. You'll tap an animal's house and then it's play area to bring them out for the day and do the opposite to return them during bad weather or at the end of the day. When they want food or water, you'll tap the specific item for that animal and then tap the animal's need icon to deliver the goods. When their homes need repair or cleaning after a weather event or even just daily clean-up, you'll tap either the hammer, broom or shovel and tap their need icon. Since Jane and Uncle Ben's tabs are on top of each other, to swap between them, simply tap the animal's need icon and the appropriate tab will come to the forefront. If a weather event has occured, sometimes you can tap a number of icons in a row, like if everyone needs their area cleaned, and it makes things move along quicker.

The mini-games are what keep Jane's Zoo interesting and you'll have a different one for each area that you unlock throughout the game. The Hospital shows your animal's face and there's a thermometer on the right side. A red bar goes up and down and there are three areas on the thermometer, each one representing whether you do excellently, fairly or poorly. Tap the button when the red goes into the correct zone and you end up with a happy animal and the maximum number of points. In the Manicure area, you'll see your animal's paw and you'll have to tap each toe to clip the nail. The hippos have the cutest feet in the game. At the Barber's washing area, you'll see your animal's face and they have dirt stains in three different areas. You'll tap to remove all of the stains to get the maximum score. At the drying area, you'll see wet spots on your animal and you'll have to swirl the hair dryer about to dry them off and style their fur. In the Play House, you'll see a picture of the animal with a puzzle piece missing and three possible puzzle pieces at the bottom of the screen. Pick the appropriate one based on shape and what's on it to get the most points. In the Gym, you'll see your animal's face and you'll scroll through a list of possible activities for them to do. When they have the wide smile on their face, you've hit upon the activity they want to do most and you tap the button. In the Music House, as I said earlier, you have a keyboard and one key is lit up in green. Tap it, then the second key lights up green. Do this three times for the most points, without hitting the wrong keys. You are only given three taps, so make them count.

Once you have done what you need to do in a mini-game, the animal will still be in that area for a few seconds while a timer fills, so during that time, you can do other tasks and mini-games to maximize your time. Then you need to return the animal to their play yard.

There are three bonus items you may see pop up around the zoo area and when you tap on them, you'll get a special bonus. The Smiley Face resets all of the animals' patience levels, the Snowflake freezes animals' patience and finally, the Coin gives you bonus points. All of these will help you to get Expert every time.

Getting the Normal Goal on a level earns you Silver Coins and getting the Expert Goal earns you Gold Coins. Both are used to purchase upgrades in between levels like better roads to get around the zoo easier, decorative ponds or lanterns to cheer up the animals, or even better grass that lasts longer in harsh weather. Gold Coins will net you upgrades that you wouldn't normally be able to get, so try to get Expert on every level to obtain all of the upgrades.

Jane's Zoo is a great time management game on the iPhone. It's lots of fun and I highly recommend it for any fan of this genre. While it has a few quirks because of the small screen, it's still lots of fun and the drawbacks are few and far between. Check it out!


-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

Related Links:



Microsoft Xbox 360 Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga Microsoft Xbox 360 Crysis 2: Limited Edition

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated