most mediocre game ever

I rented ZooCube from Blockbuster, and got a few hours of play out of it. I guess it was at least at least my five bucks worth, but that was the problem. I didn’t feel like turning it in late or renting it again. In a game with such a simple concept, the gameplay needs to be addictive, like Pac Man or Tetris. ZooCube has everything except that X factor that makes me want to stay at work and play Snood rather than go home.

Strangely enough, there’s a plot. Doctor Evilscientist has transformed the world’s animal population into strangely shaped blobs. Only by attaching two matching blobs to your “ZooCube” can you rescue the animals. Once you’ve rescued them, their face appears and they make an animal noise. The game isn’t clear on what happens to penguins that you leave in on the Egypt level. The gameplay, in its entirety, consists of rotating the ZooCube to catch incoming blobs on the right face. That’s all you do. Ever.

Games like these need a powerful addictive element. If you can’t zen them, they’re pointless. Playing ZooCube should be fun because you know that once the blobs start coming in faster, things will get really exciting. Things don’t, though; instead, they just get faster. Then the game is over, and maybe you start a new one.

Everything that happens between games is pretty awful, too. The ZooCube in-game graphics are fine, but the menus are pretty bad. The worst, though, is the high-score entry screen. Your name can be about ten characters long, but there’s no cursor, so the only way to see where you are – and it’s easy to fly around all over the place – is to bring up a character and see where it is. What’s worse, the score list is right-justified, so trailing spaces cause your name to show up far to the left of the list. What the hell?

Written on February 17, 2003
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