A mobile game with a quirky theme, lots of gameplay, and a heaping of adorableness is the right recipe for addiction, and Disco Zoo has got them all, in spades. You play a zookeeper who scouts all over the world for animals to add to your zoo. The premise is simple, but the funky graphics, whimsical animals (including mythological creatures), and no requirement to make in-app purchases to level up makes Disco Zoo a fun, imaginative game despite an occasional hard crash on my phone.
Disco Zoo is available for Android 2.3.3 and up. It’s a quick install. The maker of the game, NimbleBit, LLC also sells another game of pixilated cuteness called Tiny Tower. Disco Zoo has a colorful interface that will be familiar to lovers of Tiny Tower. In fact, there are people characters who look just like Tiny Tower’s Bitizens. However, Bitizens are not the center of this game. They only exist in Disco Zoo as tiny, wandering zoo visitors who make random bubble-thought comments like “They are so fluffy!” in front of the sheep exhibit, or “Mmmm!” in front of the pigs (sorry, vegetarians!).
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The animals have the starring role in Disco Zoo. The adorableness of the animal characters extends to the sound effects. Puffy sheep and tiny unicorns make noises like “Squee!” and “Coo!” Of course, you can always turn off the sound effects if you get cuteness overload.
While the purpose of the game is to go on trips around the world to collect animals, you need money to do so. You earn money (coins, in this game) a number of ways: Animals in the zoo earn coins by the minute from zoo visitors. The more animals in an exhibit, the more coins per minute you make. Visitors also tip, tossing out coins throughout the zoo’s grounds. Tap a coin and it gets added to your account.
Discobux are another form of currency used to make purchases such as new exhibits for your animals. Discobux and coins let players buy stuff (like hats for the animals to wear) and expand their zoo empire. You use Discobux to buy some items and coins to buy others.
The fastest way to accumulate coins is to throw a disco party. This lively event doubles the amount of coins your zoo earns per minute. The longer your disco party lasts, the more money you make. You throw a disco party using Discobux (the more Discobux you spend, the longer the disco party lasts). During a disco party everyone dances— the Bitizens and the animals. You can even adjust the disco lighting.
There are also odd random things that crop up during play that earn you extra coins or Discobux— the city’s major may declare it Zoo Day, and you’ll receiving 250 Discobux, for example. Another way to earn is a bit counterintuitive: having your bunnies (or, worse, your crocodiles) escape their exhibits. Finding these lost animals often earns you extra Discobux (or more coins).
The most fun part is going on animal rescues, which you launch from the zoo’s airport hangar. When you begin the game, your only method of transportation is an air balloon. And the only area you can rescue animals from is a farm. This means you can search for pigs, cows, sheep and horses. To rescue animals, you have to engage in a mini to find them.
You search for animals by tapping tiles on a 25 square grid. Each animal is revealed by tapping in a unique pattern. For example, tapping a square may reveal a picture of a pig. Of course, you only have a set amount of taps before the search ends so you have to figure out as you play which pattern on the grid reveals the most of whatever animal you’re looking for. The more you play, the better you get at figuring out patterns to tap out on the grid to find animals. (You can also cheat and get the patterns for every animal on Disco Zoo’s wiki page).
Finding more and more animals is how you level up and expand your zoo. Once you have enough money, you can add other aircraft to your hangar to go to different parts of the world. You can buy an OutHopper and search the Outback for Koalas, Kangaroos, and Tiddaliks, for example. There are eight different types of aircraft (as well as one car) you can buy as your zoo grows, including a time machine to rescue animals from the Jurassic era.
The latest version has new features, including a Launch Pad for space rescues and new hats and balls for your animals’ playtime.
As I mentioned, the one downside of this game is that it can take quite some time to level up. Like Tiny Tower, this is one of those games you need to leave running on your phone if you want to level up quickly. It’s not much of a battery drain, but I did experience a few hard crashes, when unlocking my phone from hibernation mode.
Of course you, can purchase coins and Discobux for real money. I never did, because you can level up if you keep the game running in the background a lot. If you do choose the in-app purchase route, you can get packages of coins and Discobux at the fairly reasonable exchange rates (100,000 coins for $9.99, for example). That many coins can get you pretty far along in the game. It’s more reasonable then some other games we’ve reviewed such as The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (for iPhone) which our reviewer said has “horrific” pricing.
Discos and Unicorns: What’s Not to Love?
My gaming of choice is typically the FPS. I am not, however, always in the mood to kill and maim things onscreen. Sometimes, I just want to kick back into a peaceful game world. Add in unicorns, horses, colorful air balloons, as well as happy, cute characters disco-dancing—and my craving for something nicer is satiated by Disco Zoo. The developers need to clean up the occasional crashes from suspension mode, but other than that, you can tell a lot of thought and imagination, went into its making. Disco Zoo is an excellent, fun game; it’s an Editors’ Choice for cute Android games.