Playing with animals—real or virtual—is something almost all kids love to do. There is no shortage of virtual animal games in the iTunes store, and I’ll be talking about a few more in the future. For this column, I’m focusing on Lazoo Zoo, a free app that takes place in a zoo and allows you to feed a variety of animals. Along with the Sago Mini games, Lazoo Zoo is one of the apps that Ana really liked at the beginning of her gaming journey.
As the name suggests, Lazoo Zoo is set in a bright and colorful zoo. When you first start, you see an advertisement (more on that later). Then you see a panoramic picture of the entire zoo. There a few things here that you can interact with. You can click on birds to make them fly around. You can also click on the poster hanging on the brick wall to make the picture change. Clicking on one of the five large animals causes the screen to zoom in to that animal so you can feed it. Once you’ve zoomed in to an animal, a vending machine of different food items appears on the left. You can cycle through the items and then press the handle to dispense the food you selected. Then you simply drag the food to the animal and watch them eat it.
In the water pool section on the bottom right, you can feed a variety of animals. The first animal is a hippo. After you feed him, a new animal pops up. The animals here are not picky about their diet. They eat any food you drag to them. A cute little addition to this section is a small yellow bird. You can feed him some food too. As you feed him, he’ll grow in size until he looks like a big ball. Then he’ll belch and shrink down to his normal size. He also says “excuse me” after he belches, which is a nice little touch.
On the top right are the giraffes. Like the water animals, they’re not picky about what they eat. To keep things interesting, the giraffe’s spots will change to look like the food they’re eating. You can also tickle the giraffe and he’ll giggle.
On the bottom left is the chameleon. He’s not a picky eater either. As you feed him items, he’ll change his body to match the color that you feed him. Once you feed him three items, he’ll dip below his branch and let out a belch.
The two picky eaters are the lion and the ape. The lion will draw pictures in the sand outside of his cave to show which food he wants. If you offer anything else, he’ll shake his head and won’t eat it. Once you feed him three items he wants, he’ll go to sleep. You can wake him up again by tapping on him.
Last is the ape. At the start, he’ll be wearing a bib that says “I heart Lazoo.” As you feed him things he likes, the image on the bib will change to match the food you fed him. While he likes most things, there a few things he’ll refuse. When you give him one of these foods, he’ll toss the item to another animal who appears briefly on the screen.
While Lazoo Zoo is pretty straightforward, there some little interactions thrown in to keep things interesting. Periodically while feeding one of the animals, a small icon will appear. These are often flowers or leaves. Clicking on them will add a new food to the vending machine. Some specific foods also have extra animations that go with them. For example, if you feed an animal a candy cane, the screen will fill with snowflakes and another little animal wearing a santa hat will pop in from the side.
Besides feeding animals the food that’s already in the vending machine, you can create your own food by tapping on the paint brush. This brings up a blank palette where you can draw anything you want. Once you’re done, your picture will appear in the vending machine with all of the other foods.
There’s also a photo booth where you can take pictures of yourself with the animals. Be warned, though. These pictures will go to your camera roll, so if your kid likes taking lots of pictures, they’ll probably fill up the storage space on your device. Different parents have different feelings on this. I personally don’t want tons of app-created photos in with my real photos, but if it’s something you don’t mind, it can be cool feature for kids to play with.
Lazoo Zoo is free and contains no in-app purchases. However, as noted above, you’ll see a full screen ad upon launching the app. These ads are usually for other free apps. I’ve never seen an ad for something that isn’t free. And believe me, I’ve launched this app many, many times. An ad will also appear if you leave the game running but don’t tap anything for awhile. Once you get to the game start screen, there is also another little ad in the bottom right for more Lazoo apps. This one is barely recognizable. Personally, I don’t have problems with either of these ads. The company needs to make money in some way in order to keep the app free. But if you don’t want your child encountering ads, this app probably isn’t for you.
Overall Lazoo Zoo is a great little app that’s fun to play with. There’s not much educational value here, but it continues to be a favorite of my daughter’s.
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