a game by Acclaim

Platform: GBA

Genre: Strategy/War

Move over Alexey Pajitnov; there's a new person in town named Nalin Sharma with a great new puzzler called Zoocube. Not since Tetris, Bust-A-Move or Fantavision have I seen a game with so much originality that's also a blast to play. Like any good puzzle game the concept is pretty simple: Shapes move toward and attach to the Zoocube in the middle of the screen. You simply rotate the Zoocube in all directions in an effort to stack similar shapes to keep the stacks small and if any one stack gets more than five pieces it's game over.

The biggest challenge of Zoocube is the control. The Zoocube is a three-dimensional cube that sits in the middle of the screen. Since the Game Boy's screen and controls are only two-dimensional you'll need to learn how to appropriately rotate in the direction you want. This is the bulk of the learning curve but after you play a few times you'll start to get the hang of it. Aside from Zoocube's semi-complex controls there are things to make the game even more challenging. For instance if you have your Zoocube lined up to attach the incoming shape, you can lock on and accelerate the piece which usually yields some type of bonus goodie (similar to dropping the piece in Tetris) and always scores more points. Other shapes that collide with the left-behind goodies add additional points or bombs to your inventory.

There are a couple variation games that are locked when you first start the game. As you progress in the normal game you can unlock them. Zoocube also allows you to hook up with another Game Boy Advance to play two player if you both have your own cartridge.

Despite it's average graphics and sound and somewhat difficult-to-learn controls, Zoocube has one thing over many other games out on the market these days: Great gameplay. Quite simply this is the best new puzzle game I've seen in ages. If you liked puzzle games such as Tetris, Bust-A-Move, or Fantavision then you definitely don't want to miss this one, even if you only rent it for a night.

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