Do you like puzzle games? I know I do, and it was great to receive Zoo Cube, the first dedicated puzzle game for GameCube in the Australian market.
The idea itself is simplistic: match up the animal heads that connect to a 3d cube. The game fully utilises three dimensions and part of the puzzle is making sure that you master the controls enough to catch all your animal parts. As you connect animals, you release them and score points.
Developed by Puzzle Kings and Coyote, Zoo Cube is strictly for the dedicated puzzle nut. Unfortunately outside of the immediate puzzle pieces and cube, there is not much in the way of innovation going on. The pieces move and pulsate however the backgrounds, although nicely rendered, don't really do too much for anyone.
The game does lend itself to some tricky strategies though as each piece contains a power up that will score more points. There are also a number of game modes including a cooperative multiplayer module that stretches out the game's life considerably.
A nice touch to the game is the fact that no two games ever play the same way which means it is not just a case of developing a strategy to beat the machine every time. Each scenario requires you to be on the ball and quite dexterous in moving the cube around to catch the puzzle pieces.
The animal animations are nice as are the sound effects that accompany them as you can see in the screen shots. The developers have tried to make the game interesting with a series of Full Motion Video interspersing the gameplay but it doesn't really work very well, nor is it needed. The title is strong enough by itself.
Other game elements include the sub games that accompany the primary title. One in particular that I found challenging was the Blind challenge. What happens is that the colours and textures of each puzzle piece are removed leaving only the vague outline to be matched up. In this mode and the main mode, you can cycle pieces in each strand in order to make them match up.
There are various icons/powerups hidden inside each piece as I previously mentioned. By carefully planning your strategy you can take advantage of these pieces to create greater scores for yourself in the long run.