Author Topic: Zoo Keeper: A couple of answers  (Read 324 times)

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Offline bryguy

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Zoo Keeper: A couple of answers
« on: May 15, 2022, 12:46:47 pm »
I want to share some tips/strategy for playing this awesome game. A great source of info can also be found in VON’s writeup here @ DKF (I’ll try not to duplicate his information, just hopefully add to it). However, you must realize you will not get a great score unless the game is in a nice mood. But I also believe the game gives you individual boards that have moods. Obviously, my 78 (MAME), and 73 (Arcade) million games were in nice moods, but they also contained boards that were in normal moods – a lot of them.

So, the topics I want to cover are moods, board start, working a board, Zeke’s movements, mega jump theory, Plan B (when things go awry), and “secrets” (or should I say whacked-out speculation!). I will do videos. The video’s I’ll try to link from YouTube. I will only do the MONEY, RAINBOW, 1st NET and 2nd NET boards. The extra man and coconut boards have already been discussed in great detail. This way we can completely explore the topic of BOARDS. I want lots of feedback, and I don’t care if it’s positive or negative. I know other players may have different approaches to the game, but these are tried and true tactics I have been using. This is a great game and deserves to be re-examined. There are 22 videos in this post.


Any game of Zoo keeper can be in a nice, normal, or nasty mood. This is determined by how far you get into the game, and/or your score. A general rule of thumb is a nasty mood game will let me get from 0 to around 10 million. A normal mood game could be 11 to 30 million, and a nice game is generally anything over 30 million. Depending on your skill set, these numbers can vary greatly. A nasty mood game will have a mix of nasty boards and normal ones, but NOT any nice boards. A normal mood game will have mostly normal mood boards, with more nasty than nice boards included. A nice mood game will have mostly normal mood boards with some nice mood boards, but NOT any nasty mood boards. I’m taking this info from studying my recordings – both MAME and arcade. In the 73 million nice game, I only had 7 nice mood boards (meaning million-point jumps or higher). The rest of the boards were in a normal mood (in my opinion).

Now what to do with this information? You can try to keep playing and hope the game is in a nice mood, continue to play for practice, or you can throw the game. I always play every game out to the end. If you notice on the 73 million arcade game score, the score RIGHT before the 73 million game was a 2.8 million score and it’s listed as #3 for Todays Keepers (watch the very beginning of the video at TG). Starting with the first money board, you should be able to tell what mood the game is in. If you get a nasty board here, the game is NOT in a nice mood. It may take up to round 10 or more to determine the games mood. A nasty board looks like this: different animals at drastically different speeds, animals that tear the board up a lot, and animals that won’t group together – even after chaining the nets. Here is an example of a nasty 1st Net board:
A normal mood board will be generally survivable with little to mid scoring potential. Animals group together somewhat. Here is an example of a normal mood Rainbow board:
A nice mood board will also be generally survivable with high scoring potential and great animal grouping. Here is an example of a nice mood 2nd Net board:
If you determine that you have a nice game and are on a normal board, you can try to get the animals grouped or switch to survival mode, whichever you think is best for that board.   



When starting this board, I think it’s best to do a quick right shuffle, then reverse and go left (pausing if animals try to collide with Zeke) and down to the bottom left. The right shuffle is meant to keep the opposites at a minimum here. Try to stay on the left side until all the animals have spawned – see VON’s write-up concerning the timer and last animal exit of the cage. Then work on filling in the left half top of the board as well as the left side. I wouldn’t play around on the top left side too much until the last animal comes out as this can give you an opposite animal – not good! It seems like sometimes an animal will “wait” in the cage for this opportunity. This video shows a good start on the Money board:

When starting this board, I usually go immediately left and down. I don’t worry about the right shuffle here because you are getting a net very soon on the bottom left. The right shuffle/then going left is very dangerous here – animals will try to collide with Zeke. Once Zeke is in the lower left corner, I think it’s best to grab the net as soon as possible because there are a few animals that have not yet spawned. This tactic is good in that you will have less animals to throw back (less animals to chew the board up when reversing it), bad in that there are less animals to be potentially grouped as you reverse the board. If you wait to grab the first net, you have more animals to capture when reversing the board (good for grouping, bad for chewing, and bad for trying to survive). Grab the net and reverse the board – going to the bottom right corner clockwise. On your way pause for the fast animals so they don’t run through Zeke (opposites on this board suck!). On later rounds I sometimes will run right at first – this is just how I play. This video shows a good start on the Rainbow board:


Technique 1 - When starting this board, I recommend going immediately right and staying there until the net comes out. With this tactic, you have the best chance of grabbing the net (without dying) by skipping around the bottom in a clockwise direction. At this point most of the animals are going clockwise already, so you just go with the flow. What you are sacrificing here though is building the left side of the board. However, because most of the animals are already going clockwise, there are less animals to put back thus you reduce the chewing up of the board (also reducing grouping though). This video shows technique 1:
Technique 2 – You can also try the “traditional” approach by doing a right shuffle, then going immediately left, then down. But now you have a problem. You are below the net and animals are coming counterclockwise (meaning you have to fight traffic to get the net). You can always jump around the board to get it though – ALL the way around which is dangerous. This video shows technique 2:
Technique 3 – A third approach is to stay up top and fill in some of the board, then go down to the bottom left. This isn’t a bad way to start, but you’ll still have to fight some traffic coming counterclockwise. However, the left side and top of the board gets filled in better. With this tactic, you have the best chance at starting a solid board. This video shows technique 3:

2nd NET:

When starting this board, I will go right, then left and down. Be cautious here as the animals will try to collide with you. If you can fill in some on the right-side top – do it. This board should be filled in as best as it can be. Next, survive until the net appears in the bottom center. Do a bouncing jump across the bottom to grab the net and continue counterclockwise until you arrive in the lower left corner. This video shows a good start on the 2nd net board:

There are lots of ways to move Zeke around. But I believe the most important one is to NOT move. VON mentions this also in his write-up. Standing still and holding your ground is paramount. Believe it or not, standing still can actually help in slowing down the animals, or “calming” them. I think the best boards to witness this on is the Moose and Lion board. Later boards it’s more difficult to see this happen – but it does. I think on later boards the gelling effect is seen more than the slowing effect. Slowing them down will aid in bigger jumps because it helps them gel together and lets you see the jump forming.
Next to that would be a stationary jump, or single jump which can aid in this manipulation too. Running around the board and constantly moving does NOT help your game IMO.

Another jump I prefer to do is what I call a half jump. This is when Zeke jumps straight up, then moves to one side or the other. It’s my opinion that this can also soothe the animals.

A cross jump is needed when two animals are coming at you from opposite directions. Just position ZEKE, or “aim” where you think the animals will encounter you at the same time, then do a standing jump.

The last jump to mention is what I call the pullback jump. You do a long jump over animals, then pull back to land either between animals, or right behind the one you jumped. A pullback jump usually lessens you jump score though. This will come up later in the “secrets/speculation” section.
Did these tactics aid in an 8 million jump in this game on a round 23 Money board? Speculation or manipulation? I’m not totally sure either…watch that happen here:
When starting a board, jumping also helps to bring out an animal. This will aid in them not chewing up the board. We all know how jumping into the un-bricked area at the bottom is an open invitation to an animal to collide with you. Probably has something to do with that.
Lastly, try to go for the bigger scoring jumps around corners. The game doesn’t draw the characters diagonally on the corners. This give you a chance to get over that last animal, or should I say adds in the distance of the jump.   



After starting the board good (none or few opposites) and minding how you are jumping, you want to capitalize on maximizing score. Von has a great example of running a solid money board in his write-up. Here is another video with a 4 million jump:
In both videos you’ll see a good start, the jumping maneuvers stated above with slow and deliberate movement by Zeke, “petting” the left side of the board (continually running over the same area). In Von’s video, you can see the animals slow down and gel (not as much in mine). I believe slowly inching your way ahead of a pack of animals (as Von does) helps this phenomenon. Notice in both videos how the spawning animals react to Zekes movements. The animals emerge from the cage when either a down movement by Zeke is occurring, or when Zeke is jumping. So, if you have a stubborn animal staying in the cage, this can help them “hatch” or exit. 
I took off around the board, Von did not. From my research, I don’t believe staying, or taking off around the board makes a lot of difference. The game WILL push you around the board sometimes – this is inevitable. The timing of the nets is obviously critical here. A slight reversal also helps reverse the faster animals and re-directs them to be put back in again with the net.


The best thing I can say about this board is just try to survive it. After reversing the board, focus on staying safe and looking for jumps to form. This example is a right-hand starting technique, and this board was in a nice mood as well as the overall game was too – a 36 million. Watch here:                            
There was also a 2 million jump on board 28 of the 73 game. Watch that here:

1st NET:

This is the board most of us (including me) are still trying to figure out. I’m sorry I don’t have a definitive strategy that will garner large, consistent jumps here. This post is titled a couple of answers, not all the answers. There are a plethora of ways to run this board. I’ll focus on two ways.
First, you can run this board in the traditional style by going left, down, up, grabbing the net then and reversing the board. This is my favorite and I tend to not lose a man this way very often. The idea here is to stay on the right side and use the 2nd and 3rd nets to group animals. You want to look for a faster pack of animals coming CW. You grab the 2nd net and jump the first part of the pack, then capture the stragglers in the back, then move Zeke to the bottom right corner again and repeat. Remember to take off around the board to fill in bricks (at least once). There is little sense trying to group animals when the board is wrecked. This is from my 73 game and shows a re-grouping of fast animals that netted a 1, and a 4 million jump. Watch that here:  
Second, with the above scenario, if the 2nd net does not group the animals well – or there are lots of slow animals, consider a plan B strategy at this point. Use the 3rd net to reverse the board (make sure the board is filled in solid first), then after arriving at the bottom left corner wait about 4 - 5 seconds and grab the bottom net, jumping the faster pack CW. Go CW around the board and jump the slow and fast groups when they merge. Watch this technique here:  

2nd NET:

For the mega jumps (15+) to happen on this board, I believe the board has to be in a nice mood. There are 30 million jumps to watch on You Tube, so I won’t repeat that info. Here is a less successful 2nd Net board with a 2 million jump for you to compare:
One thing I will say about mega jumps, if you see a tight pack of animals, just go for the jump! I lost a 30 million jump because I pulled back – and I would have made it!  UGH! Notice how late I jumped – got to love this games collision detection! Very painful, but watch that here:
Timing of the nets is critical in forming a 15 or 30 million jump. Also, when the net timer sounds that the net is over, you still have a fraction of a second to capture 1, maybe 2 more animals – this is very helpful. How you move Zeke around the board when chaining the nets is important; so is having the board filled in nice and tight. Here is the 15 and 30 million jump from my 78 game - on one board - if anyone missed it:
Pay attention to how this board played – nice mood, jumping techniques as explained above, good start, board filled in, petted the left upper corner, great net timing, a reversal, and using the pull-down motion on the right side to get the animals out into the pack. I also got extremely lucky that I ran through that camel.


If jumping a pack of animals with a net, try to jump the most animals you can. This might mean netting the first animal (or more) to get to the majority of animals. Be careful not to put in too many though. I have given up LOTS of point by not jumping soon enough. Remember that by putting in just one animal, you have cut the jump score in half. In the 73 game on board 15 (Money), I turned a 250K jump into a 60K jump.
When you are getting into faster boards, or boards with opposites, a tactic to use to survive is what call “hold the button down and steer”. This can get you out of trouble.
Try to get the prizes – if you can. Each prize you get on the board doubles the value of the next prize. On the 2nd Net board that would be a total of 225K in points.
If you feel lucky, you can totally fill the board in before the last net comes out and go for the maximum harvest of animals possible. VON shows this technique brilliantly in his 47 million MAME game on You Tube. I don’t do this tactic very often because disaster could happen as it did on board 26 of my 73 game. Luckily, I only lost 1 man. You can get a theoretical maximum of 1,120,000 on the 2nd Net board if you were to capture all 16 animals, and they were lions. Incorporate harvesting into your game-play. In the 73 game, I harvested 5.1 million in lions alone.
The cost of NOT pausing Zeke to capture an animal can be millions of points. In the 73 game, on board 30, I reversed the board and at the top right I had to reverse Zeke to capture a lion, this caused a lion to come out opposite and not join the pack – which resulted a 4 million jump instead of an 8. Again, very painful! Watch that here:    

I have covered what I believe are helpful basic, intermediate, and some advanced tips for this game. Other players run the boards differently – especially Dean. He is great at surviving into the 45+ rounds. I don’t have the “Holy Grail” of answers, maybe John Lexmark does, but I am confident with my strategies and will continue to pursue this game. My goal is 100 million. This last section is for speculation and theories.  This information may or may not be seen in videos, so ask yourself “does it really work?” In my opinion it might.
The first thing I want to cover is that how ZEKE is maneuvered greatly impacts the game. The videos that have large jumps all have precise and particular motions which can “set” the animals into a grouping mentality. Other times, it seems like you can do everything right, but the game doesn’t care – you get screwed anyway – what’s up with that? I believe it’s because you are on a normal/nasty mood board, not a nice mood board.
Next, slowly inching Zeke ahead of a slow animal seems to cause the other animals to “gel” behind them. There are examples of this tactic, and it seems legit, especially if Zeke is between slow animals.

Playing nasty games all the way through will help you to get a nice game. It’s almost like the game forces you to pay your dues – and the more nasty the games are, the more it will be nice when the time is right. I’m not sure if the memory records this info in some obscure log or not. More nonsense? If the NVRAM is not enabled, then it can’t. Most likely, it’s a RNG that chooses the mood. But I know that if I would continually rage quit, game after game, I wouldn’t get a nice mood game. This was evident when I hooked up a battery and started to play every game out till the end.

There are numerous examples of losing a man on a board, and then getting a mega jump. I know starting a board that is already filled in can greatly assist your game score. John’s YouTube video shows this happening when he got a 30 million jump on the Money board. Does losing a man after filling in the board aid in a mega jump? – it can. First, you most likely won’t get an opposite animal. Second, you don’t have to take time to fill in the board as much, just continue to pet the left side and upper-left corner. This gives you more time to move Zeke around properly (and stand still). I have gotten a 30 million jump though without dying first – so this is questionable. And I also wouldn’t play a game intentionally killing a man off – or should I?
The last one is whacked out speculation IMO, but I will mention it because it might be a disservice not to. Here goes: the game will bank points you missed and give them to you later. I know this sounds ludicrous, and I agree. I don’t really have proof and I really don’t believe it myself. You can now say that I have lost my marbles – LOL – I probably have. This one was just for fun.

Here is an 8 million jump on the 1st Net board:
Here is a 15 million jump on the 2nd Net board:
Here is what can happen when a board is in a nice mood. Always try to hit a jump more than once. The game gave me five - million and up jumps:
I chose to only do videos, sorry no screen shots. But you should have been able to get the gist of everything and understand that I’m promoting the game, not me. Some people might be disappointed now because I didn’t reveal a major secret. I’m sure there are a few things about Zookeeper I am not aware of, but hopefully you all will get something out of what’s here. Cheers! 
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