Review: Zoonies – Escape from Makatu (DSi)

Leo the Lion was out enjoying a pleasant flight in his airplane when the nasty tribe of Tubas, who for some reason hate the thought of people flying over their island, fling deadly spears at Leo’s plane, causing his plane to explode and leaving Leo trapped in the dense jungles of the island. With the chief Makatu chasing him down, Leo must run – well, he actually walks casually – as fast as he can to escape the dangerous island, and he needs your help to do so.

Sure, this certainly isn’t Shakespeare level of story telling, but it isn’t exactly needed for a game like that – its only purpose here is to set the scene for the gameplay to commence.The jungle Leo the Lion is trapped in is very colourful and very nicely detailed, while everything that you need to use in the game is very clear thanks to the well-made graphics. The music sets the tone nicely and is used to good effect.

In Zoonies, Leo the Lion constantly walks at a slow and steady pace to the right of the screen. Instead of controlling the main character you direct him indirectly, by interacting with the environment. You will need to smash pots, destroy rocks, move platforms, hit switches, solve puzzles and avoid enemies to lead Leo the Lion to his destination. The touch-screen controls are very precise all deaths are due to the player and not affected by the perfect control scheme.

Throughout the game, chief Makatu and his Tubas tribe is hot on your tail. The top of the screen will show you how close he is to Leo the Lion, and as Makatu gets closer and closer to Leo the Lion tense music will start playing, leading to lots of frantic moments where you need to work out a path or puzzle as quickly as possible to avoid watching a spear fly directly into the top of Leo the Lion’s skull. The tribe isn’t the only threat, though. Levels have a plentiful supply of enemies and to avoid or kill and a large amount of traps for you to work your way out of. You have to be very careful, too – one measly hit and Leo the Lion will be less of a lion and more of a sirloin steak.

Zoonies gives you ten lives per level, bite the dust and you’ll be respawned at one of the convenient and frequent checkpoints littered throughout the level. Lose all ten lives and you’ll be forced to start the level from the very beginning. The checkpoints allow for some surprisingly difficult sections without the frustration of trawling through all the earlier parts of the level while the limited number of lives still allows for some tension.

At a cost of 500 Nintendo Points, Zoonies is a little bit thin on content. The standard single player is the only mode in the game and there are only 20 levels to walk through in a couple of hours. Zoonies does have some additions to add a bit of replayability. On every level there are three hard-to reach items to collect and there is also a medal for completing a level within a set time – leading to lots of fast-paced touch screen shenanigans.

Zoonies gives us a simple premise and makes it a lot of fun, while still maintaining a decent challenge. While it only takes a few hours to blast through the game, it will take a lot of mastering to collect all the items and medals.

Graphics: ⅘
Sound: ⅘
Gameplay: ⅘
Playability: ⅘
Lifespan: ⅖


  • A lot of fun with a simple premise.
  • Good difficulty level.


  • Not a huge amount of content.

A simple gameplay premise pulled off very well. It won’t last long but it’s certainly fun and challenging while it lasts.

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