Zoologic Game Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 4 and up (publisher suggests 5+)
  • For 1 player
  • Variable time to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Memorization & Pattern/Color Matching
  • Visuospatial Skills

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • None

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek rejected!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

Animals, animals everywhere, and you are the lucky one who needs to keep them all in order! All the animals will behave if they get the right food and are placed next to another friendly animal, but chaos will ensue quickly if they don’t get their way! Making it even more complicated are ants who want to eat the animals food and a raging bull who simply will not get along with anyone. It’s a tough job being an animal keeper and even tougher to keep all the animals happy!

Zoologic is comprised of a puzzle book that contains 60 puzzles and 17 plastic squares. Each square represents an animal or food. Specifically, 3 friendly dogs, 3 angry dogs, 3 mice, 2 cats, 2 bones, 2 cheese pieces, and 2 fish. Included in the box of the game is a plastic stand that has rows to place the plastic squares and where you place the puzzle book. The plastic squares are solid and thick making them easy to handle and play with for little hands.

Example of the animals and food depicted on the plastic squares

The puzzles in the book start out simple and gradually grow in difficulty and challenge. This allows you and your little geeks to advance through the puzzles at your own pace and adjust the difficulty accordingly. Included in the game rule book are helpful clues and the solution for each puzzle. The clues are a nice touch as it allows you to get some help for a difficult puzzle without having to spoil it by looking to the solution for guidance.

Puzzle Set Up

Remove all the plastic squares and the tray from the game box. Set the plastic squares aside and center the tray in front. Select a puzzle difficulty level using the colored diamonds found at the bottom right of each puzzle. There are five different difficulty levels in total. The easiest are represented by the furthest left diamond being highlighted; the furthest right diamonds identifies the most difficulty. For your little geeks, I suggest you start off with the easiest puzzles for two reasons. First, the puzzles teach the player by gradually increasing in difficulty using the previous puzzle solution as a base going forward. Second, until the animal and food placement rules are understood, jumping to a more difficult puzzle can cause a great deal of confusion.

Once the puzzle has been selected, retrieve the plastic squares to be used and place them in the front most part of the tray. These are the only squares you will use and needed to solve the puzzle. The required the number of plastic squares and of what animal or food type are clearly identified on the far right column of the puzzle book for the puzzle selected. Place the unused plastic squares aside.

You are now ready to solve the puzzle!

Solving the Puzzle

You will play directly on the puzzle book, placing the plastic squares on the illustrated puzzle blocks (or grid) until all the plastic pieces are all placed correctly. Once you feel you have solved the puzzle, refer to the solution for that puzzle in the back of the rule book. If you ever get stuck, feel free to look at the clue for the puzzle.

Where you can place a plastic square is dependent on the relationship of the other plastic squares around it. Some animals and food pair up nicely and some do not. Additionally, there are unique places on the puzzles that do not allow for any animal or a food square to be placed. The rules of the animal and food placement are fairly easy to remember, especially when you consider that the goal of the game is place the animals and food in a way that the animals behave.

Animal Placement

  • Cats and Mice cannot be placed adjacent to each other
  • Dogs and Cats cannot be placed adjacent to each other
  • Angry Dogs cannot be placed adjacent to any other dog type (be the dog friendly or angry)

Food Placement

  • Mice and Cheese cannot be placed adjacent to each other
  • Cats and Fish cannot be placed adjacent to each other
  • Angry and Friendly Dogs cannot be placed adjacent to Bones

Unique Spaces

  • Ants do not allow for food to be placed on that puzzle space, but animals are allowed
  • Raging Bulls do not allow for any animal to be placed on the puzzle space, but food is allowed

Learn more about the game and review the complete rules that provide several more visual examples by visiting the official game web site.

Prediction

I am delighted that my little geeks have found enjoyment and get excited by puzzle games. My 4-year-old has always been a puzzle player since he was old enough to grab pieces, put them together, and eventually put them in his mouth. As he has gotten older, he has stopped putting things in his mouth (for the most part) but his love of puzzles has never faltered. My wife speculates that his love of puzzles is based on his quiet nature and ability to focus. I have no doubt she is spot on in her reasoning, but that doesn’t explain why my 7-year-old likes puzzles, too.

My 7-year-old is active, excitable, and puts up with very little nonsense. While not a polar opposite of his younger brother, his personality does not easily allow him to sit down and concentrate for long periods of time without some sort of mental or physical reward. Puzzles, for this reason, tend to bore or frustrate him and he leaves them pretty much untouched. And yet, when it comes to board and card games (which, arguably, are just another form of puzzle that has rules and player interaction added to it), he is truly in his most comfortable element. In fact, it can be said that in very little time, my little geeks have gone from game noobs to game geeks, and they haven’t even hit puberty yet.

I give full credit to my wife here as it must be the good genes from her family that have played a major part in their emotional and cognitive skills advancement. That, or geekiness is like the Flu and my little geeks have the fever.

Before I introduced Zoologic to my little geeks, I asked them the ponder a mental puzzle about a guy, a boat, and for reasons never really explained, a bag of grain, a sheep, and a wolf of all things. To summarize the puzzle, the guy wants to cross the river using a boat that can only hold 2 things at a time. The problem is, the guy cannot leave certain things alone on the shore. For example, he can’t leave the wolf with the sheep, because the wolf will eat the sheep. Likewise, the sheep will eat the bag of grain if left alone. The object is to get everyone across the river. I drew this on a piece of paper and my little geeks and I solved the puzzle together.

When I asked how they liked the puzzle, they both agreed it was pretty good and asked if I had any more. I told them I didn’t, grinning knowingly, but I did have a game that used the same kind of logic. I then whisked Zoologic onto the table with as much flourish and fanfare as one can muster early in the morning with only two cups of coffee in their system. I broke open the box, explained the game, and told them the same logic they used in the river puzzle was used in the game. Certain animals and food could not be placed together, limiting placement.

I then showed them how the game was played (we cooperatively worked on the first couple of puzzles together) and then asked my little geeks what they thought of the game.

Neat! But why don’t the two dogs team up on the bull?” ~ Liam (age 7)

Cool, Daddy!” ~ Nyhus (age 4)

Outstanding! Once again, I am thrilled that my two oldest little geeks eagerly look forward to games and puzzles! This enthusiasm will serve them well in life, but before we jump ahead of ourselves, let’s see how they like the game.

Final Word

Both of my little geeks enjoyed Zoologic, but my 4-year-old loved them the most. I believe this is because there is a very strong puzzle building element to the game, of which he is most fond. The puzzle book has squares (or grids) that identify where each piece can go which also defines the puzzles boundaries. Also included are the number of pieces to be used. In some respects, this is just like the puzzles that my son puts together on his own. He seems to thrive within these given boundaries that provide limits and direction, but allow the individual to work as they wish within the context of those limitations.

Eventually, my 7-year-old went off to grab another game to play at the table (I believe it was Rattlesnake), but my 4-year-old stuck with Zoologic. He quickly mastered the easy puzzles and only slightly slowed his otherwise fast puzzle solving pace when he hit the next difficulty level. As the difficulty level increased, so did his frustration and his willingness to play the game. Not surprising. Towards the middle of the intermediate level, he was burnt out and walked away from the table. For a 4-year-old, to go that long and to go that far, I was greatly impressed.

As for me, I too enjoyed the puzzles, but I don’t have the same type of personality my 4-year-old does. I tend to lose interest in puzzle games as they start to get repetitive in their play. The puzzle level difficulty increases, but the game is always the same. My love is for games that allow me to play with other people. For my wife and 4-year-old, puzzle games will always be their strength, but not my 7-year-old’s or mine.

We have no idea what our 2-year-old likes other than causing chaos.

My 4-year-old enjoyed the challenge and the animals!

Gamer Geeks, this will be a fun mental challenge for you, but is not a “gamer’s” game. It is solo, linear in its approach, and repetitive. In short, everything you’d expect from a puzzle game. There are no random elements or direct actions you can take to influence the puzzle itself. A very neat logic game but not something you’d put on the gaming table to play with friends.

Parent Geeks, this is a wonderful puzzle game to introduce to your younger geeks. It provides a level of structure that will make the puzzle seem less overwhelming which, in turn, makes it a great way to introduce this level of thinking. Given only a small number of squares and spaces where those squares are placed gives your little geek (and anyone who plays the game) a visual clue where pieces might or might not go. As the puzzles increase in difficulty, so do the number of squares and spaces. This allows for an easy difficulty transition and a gentil learning curve.

Child Geeks, this is a wonderful puzzle game that will challenge you and feel very rewarding. Start off with the basic puzzle difficultly levels and work your way up. Take all the time you need and play at your own pace as there is no time limit. You can even walk away from the puzzle and come back to it later because your puzzle pieces stay put on the puzzle book or in the tray. Keep at it and in no time you’ll be working on the more complex puzzles and getting smarter by the minute!

I am most pleased with this puzzle game as it works the cognitive skills very well, forcing a player to think logically to place each piece. Trial and error will be used as it was by me many times. Just when I think I got the puzzle solved, I have to place an animal next to another that won’t work. You don’t have to start over, however. Simply remove the two pieces, shift them, and see if that works. If not, keep shifting. In the end, you’ll work through the logic and place all the pieces in the right order. Sometimes it will take longer than others and sometimes it will just come to you. If you are looking for a great logic puzzle game that is fast to play and challenging to solve, give Zoologic a try!

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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