Zoonies - Escape from Makatu (Nintendo DS) Review

By Mike Mason 10.05.2011

Review for Zoonies - Escape from Makatu on Nintendo DS

Experienced iPhone developers Kiloo have taken a walk on the DSiWare wild side for their debut DS title, Zoonies - Escape from Makatu. Developed over a number of years alongside numerous iPhone / iPad releases, is Zoonies a roaring success, or does it arrive with a whimper?

Zoonies - Escape from Makatu’s hook is that players have no direct control over the main character, Leo the Lion, who has crash landed his plane in the middle of the jungle and is now being pursued by native Makatu and his bloodthirsty Tuba tribe. Despite how it appears on a first glance, Zoonies is actually more of a puzzle game in the guise of a 2D platformer, with the aim being to get the ever-stomping Leo to the end of each stage safely.

The stylus is your ally as you act as Leo’s guardian angel, tapping away at blocks, dragging moving platforms and flicking levers to help him progress. This all works excellently for the most part, aside the odd piece of scenery needing pixel-perfect movement for the bumbling big cat to pass. More elements are added as Zoonies goes on, such as catapults that fling Leo across the stages, or enemies that must be bested by taking advantage of the environments, and Kiloo are unafraid to introduce concepts that are only used once or twice alongside the basic hazards.

This approach makes for a varied experience, with the puzzles balanced throughout the game to ensure that boredom never gets the chance to creep in. Each challenge is introduced in a fair, simple to understand manner, and more often than not the player is to blame for any failure - and if a mistake should be made, near-instant defeat is to be expected. Such a set-up would be frustrating were it not for the perfectly placed checkpoints, activating after just about every set of obstacles in each level. When you die you are almost always plopped right back where you would hope, mere footfalls from the troublesome section.

Screenshot for Zoonies - Escape from Makatu on Nintendo DS

Despite this safety net, it is dangerous to get complacent. Leo must be kept constantly moving - at his rather jovial pace - lest he be caught by the off-screen tribe members that chase from the left, the screen continually scrolling and threatening impending doom with hails of arrows should Leo get too close to the screen’s edge. After every four stages Leo must face off against / run away from Makatu in boss encounters that split up the action and use previously introduced puzzle elements smartly.

Each stage lasts up to or around five minutes, which is hugely convenient on the move. A downside, however, is that Zoonies - Escape from Makatu is over too quickly; it’s possible to complete it inside of two hours, and there is a sense that the difficulty could have reached more devious heights, with the game’s truly challenging sections only arriving within the closing stages. To extend proceedings, Kiloo have built multiple paths into many of the stages, and it is only by exploiting these that you are able to collect Leo’s missing belongings, scattered from the plane crash. It’s unlikely that these will be gathered in a single playthrough, and there is always room to improve your speeds to receive a medal for each stage.

Screenshot for Zoonies - Escape from Makatu on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

It is clear that Kiloo have great grasp on what appeals in a portable title. Zoonies - Escape from Makatu is a unique puzzle game filled with short, snappy stages that can be picked up easily on the move, and the level design throughout is superb, with creative obstacles and multiple paths that ensure each can be played again and again.






2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (3 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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