‘ZOOKEEPER: Blast Quest’ Brings the Beloved Franchise to VR for the First Time

Oculus Blog
December 3, 2021

Fans of voxel art styles and puzzle games, rejoice—the ZOOKEEPER franchise made its way to VR this week with the launch of ZOOKEEPER: Blast Quest on the Quest Platform.

Your objective is to rebuild a large zoo that was abandoned long ago. Score a perfect three stars when clearing puzzles and you’ll begin to unlock secret animals. With puzzles that gradually ramp up in difficulty, it’s ideally suited to both VR newcomers and veterans alike.

We sat down with KITERETSU Inc. CEO and Executive Producer Masanori Kusakabe to learn more.

Tell us a little about ZOOKEEPER: Blast Quest. What can players familiar with the franchise expect? What about people who are new to the franchise?

Masanori Kusakabe: ZOOKEEPER: Blast Quest is the latest entry in the ZOOKEEPER series of action puzzle games, which have been played by more than 30 million players worldwide over the span of 18 years both on smartphones and game consoles. This is the first-ever VR-compatible title in the ZOOKEEPER series, and it will be available only on the Quest Platform.

I think that both children and adults will love the unique voxel art style animals and the view of the world of the zoo, regardless of gender. The wide variety of visitor characters in the games are also cute and charming.

While the puzzles are intuitive, the game is designed as an exhilarating shooting puzzle game. As you clear missions in both puzzle stages and in the zoo, the zoo will be completed bit by bit, so the players’ progress is easy to understand and very casual. Duck Family, Calico Cat, and Patrol Dog will also visit the zoo if players collect stars by doing well in puzzle stages.

Game modes will be added regularly in future updates. But to start, we want players to clear all the puzzle stages and mission events in the zoo and enjoy rebuilding the zoo and maintaining it.

What motivated you to bring ZOOKEEPER to VR?

MK: There are two things that motivated us to bring the ZOOKEEPER series to VR.

First is that we wanted to make a brand new experience, with a new type of puzzle and a unique experience in VR that everyone can enjoy, combined with ZOOKEEPER’s art style and its view of the world.

Second, we wanted to create a playground where players could have a simulated experience: talking and interacting directly with the Zoo Owner, feeding animals, picking up trash, walking around the zoo to find lost children, and taking care of the zoo and its animals, all in VR.

What’s your favorite part of the ZOOKEEPER: Blast Quest and why?

MK: Rather than featuring match-three puzzles like the previous entries in the ZOOKEEPER series so far, ZOOKEEPER: Blast Quest is a shooting puzzle game where you take aim at blocks of the same color, erase them all at once, create and mix rockets and bombs, and make them explode while using other tactics to clear puzzles. The big explosion effect is very exhilarating and my favorite part.

In addition, there are many aspects that are unique to VR. These include the puzzle stage, where players have to look up at the blocks towering high above them. Another is a battle with “Mecha BOSS” where players need to make full use of rockets and bombs, mix them together, and explode them at close range to damage “Mecha BOSS” enough to defeat it.

As players alternate between stages of shooting puzzles and clearing mission events in the zoo, the zoo will get bigger, and players will feel some joy when the various visitors gradually increase in number as the zoo becomes more and more lively.

How did you go about making sure the puzzles were well balanced?

MK: We designed the levels so that the early puzzle stages are easy and can be progressed through smoothly. The difficulty gradually increases as the zoo nears its completion. The level design is balanced in such a way that even if a player fails a stage, they’ll get used to the stage and clear it after playing it several times.

Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

MK: Experience an exciting and exhilarating new sensation of matching puzzles. Respond to requests from visitors and animals, clear puzzles and missions in the zoo, and complete the zoo. The missions in the zoo are full of fun mini-games such as feeding animals, searching for lost children, and even fishing for food. Get as many visitors as you can and enjoy as you bring the zoo back to its former glory!

Put your puzzle-solving skills to the test in ZOOKEEPER: Blast Quest on the Quest Platform today.