ZooZoo Club could be summed up in just one word: eeeeeeevil. Or alternatively, for something with more substance, it could be summed up in one sentence: A completely unoriginal, disgusting and above all evil piece of… cellphone software.
At first I thought that the developers didn’t care about this game at all and they just phoned it home (go ahead, cringe at that pun, it deserves it), but then I had a revelation: This was on purpose. Nobody can make a game this bad by mistake, nobody is this misguided. This game was made out of pure evil and I’m sure the developers cackled compulsively during the whole month of development with insane expressions on their faces and a spooky soundtrack playing in the background, accompanied by constant lighting bolts while wind and rain bashed through their derelict windows.
So you can imagine, it makes great critique material =D
First of all, it’s a bejeweled clone, which means it’s a match-3 game where you must match three or more adjacent blocks of the same color in rows or columns to gain points.
Booooring! That isn’t evil, that’s just lazy! Well, hold your horses, I haven’t started yet. Put on your seat-belts because this is gonna be a hell of a ride, kids.
Right. Well, let’s see what we have here… Oh, yes, yes yes yes, let’s start with this little nugget: It gets harder the more you play, with incredible speed. Yes, it gradually adds a few more “colors” of blocks, but those are nothing compared to the timer of doom. Yes, the timer of doom. We’re gonna make this game so hard, so fast that you’ll never be able to pass level 9. We’ll trap the players into a false sense of security with our easy initial difficulty and then snap the game from their tiny little fingers and slap them around with our game over screen.
Additionally, there will be three “colors” of blocks that are literally the same color! Incredible, right? You’d think that three types of orange blocks would be pushing it too far, revealing our nature too soon, announcing to the player that the joke is on him/her. But no, you see, we’ll make each block look different but retain the same color, so it can be really freaking hard to distinguish between them at first sight but disguising this evil deed as a simple “graphic error” or just a “usability issue”. The poor idiots, they won’t know what hit them. They’ll be begging for mercy to the panda god in a matter of minutes! What’s the panda god you say? Nay, we’ll leave that nugget of joy for last, for it is the most blatant expression of our evilness. Just wait, we’ll get to it soon enough.
In order to maintain this façade of “casual game” we’ll add special blocks that clear complete rows, columns, both of them or one type of block at random. The beauty of it is that they will only appear at the most unfortunate places and be completely absent in the later levels, effectively making the first levels easier and the later levels harder. Making the soul-crushing process a lot more faster (and efficient too!). Furthermore, since they are completely random they won’t allow for any kind of strategy to be formed, the player will eventually surrender to just do the first thing he sees, following our every order, easing him into the eventual holo… eeerr… birthday? Yeah, let’s go with birthday. Caust. Birthdaycaust.
We’ll make the point system extremely simple: one point per block cleared. So the special blocks will grant a crazy amount of points but since we control those things there’s hardly any hope for the player. Then, apart from that, the player will tend to do the 3 block matches first because there’s hardly incentive to go one step further and do harder 4 block matches, since there’s only a 1 point difference between the two.
But that’s not enough, we must punish the player in the most bizarre way possible! … But how? Oh! I know! Let’s make it so that when the player clears a level, the whole screen get’s wiped and refilled again. That’ll surely destroy any sense of strategy and/or dignity the player might have had left. Just imagine it: the player will be waiting for that magical red block to pop up and let him do a 5 block match but he’ll be forced to do other matches until the sweet sweet moment happens. Slowly but firmly, the player will start to realize that this strategy thing might not be a good idea and then BAM! level ends, wipes the whole screen and the player will shed a single tear of sorrow and bitterness and maybe a little bit of rage. And then he’ll be graced with the sight of our great panda god.
Oh, but there’s more! It has been said before, but nobody has said it with more sinister meaning in mind: It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. A cold blooded feature. So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, let me present you: the match checking. Of doom! You see, people, like in any match 3 game, there’s the scenario where no possible matches remain on the screen. We have the courtesy of recognizing this issue when it happens and refilling the screen with a new set of blocks for the player. No, we are not nice people, don’t you dare leave your seat in disgust, we never do anything without an underhanded agenda, let me assure you that. Nono, we do this with an evil grin firmly planted on our faces. Oh, what’s this? A special block you say? Nono, I don’t know what’s that, it surely isn’t anything useful I’m sure, let me refill the screen for you since you don’t appear to have any matches left MWAHWAHWAH. That’s right, we don’t consider special blocks when checking to see if the screen has any possible matches left. There’s nothing like seeing a player’s face right when our game cleans up the screen just when he has 5 or more of those suckers on the screen. Fills us with joy and wonder every time.
But where is the coup d’etat? Where’s the breaking point? Where do we finally break the player and make him/her bow before us? Ah, that’s where our god, the laughing panda comes in and steals the show. Everything else I’ve described up until now is child’s play, mere foreplay. Simple appetizers before the main course. Here is where it gets serious: the game over screen. Everything has been building up to this point and let me just say that it won’t disappoint anybody.
But our lord does not have only one face, he possesses twice that amount! First, he shows us the meticulous thinker:
This face shows us that he’s not too pleased with the player’s performance, that he can’t believe how unworthy of his presence the player is. He’s thinking, calmly analyzing the situation to see what would the most evil expression possible be. Then, in a matter of nanoseconds, he acts:
Oh that’s good. That’s probably going to leave a psychological scar right there. I mean, look at that expression! The lord looks so happy that the player lost, so overwhelmed with joy that it just bursts out of his face with incredible ease. It’s the ultimate schadenfreude, the perfect representation of bliss.
There’s nothing that can top that, so with that, I close my perfectly objective critique of ZooZoo Club.