Zooloretto Game App Review: Transform Your iPhone into a Smart Zoo

Launched in 2007, Zooloretto quickly captured the hearts of board game enthusiasts, clinching the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award. Its roots trace back to the 2003 card game Coloretto, known for its simple yet engaging gameplay. Zooloretto expanded on this foundation with vibrant animal-themed graphics and new strategic elements, supported by numerous expansions and the compatible game Aquaretto.

The digital adaptation, Zooloretto iPhone and iPod touch app, priced at $4.99, introduces players to the series with an included polar bear expansion. This version offers a condensed playtime of about 10-15 minutes, appealing to both seasoned and new players of the ‘retto series, despite some differences from the board game.


The Game

In Zooloretto, players face the challenge of strategically placing animals or other tiles on delivery trucks.

Each turn, you must choose between placing a tile or taking a truck, but not both. This decision-making process is crucial as it determines how well your zoo attracts visitors. The game’s complexity is enhanced by the need to manage space in your zoo, attract visitors, and use coins for upgrades. For a detailed understanding of the rules, you can download this PDF.

The App

The app version, developed by SpinBottle Games and Chillingo, features charming animations and sound effects that make the game more accessible to video gamers.

However, traditional board gamers might prefer a more straightforward visual representation of the game’s strategic elements. The app could benefit from an overview mode that allows players to see all zoos simultaneously, rather than focusing on individual animations.

The app effectively signals the approaching end of the game, which is triggered when tile supplies dwindle. The game adjusts the number of tiles based on player count, and the app initially limits players to a three-player mode, requiring wins to unlock additional opponents and expansions. The transition from board to digital format includes a built-in points system, rewarding players based on performance and enabling the purchase of new game features.

Despite some shortcomings in translating board game mechanics to a mobile interface, Zooloretto remains a compelling adaptation.

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Donald is a dedicated writer for TUAW, bringing readers the latest insights and updates on all things Apple. With a keen eye for detail and a love for technology, Donald covers everything from the newest iPhone releases to the latest macOS updates. His articles are known for their clarity and depth, making complex topics accessible to all. When he’s not writing, Donald enjoys exploring the capabilities of his MacBook Pro and capturing moments with his iPhone camera.