Immediately addictive. ZooCube is exactly what I expected and hoped for.
Today I finally got to put in some serious time with ZooCube at Acclaim's booth, and I'm glad I did. The game is still hard to explain in words, but one look at it in motion and you can see how it works and what to do.
The one thing I was worried about was being confused with the cube's rotation. At first, I did indeed have trouble keeping up with how the cube rotates, and it led to a lot of errors and stupid moves. However, Nalin from Puzzlekings (developer of ZooCube) explained the rotation controls a bit more, and after that I was spinning that cube all over the place with ease. One really cool feature is that you can use both the control stick and the C-stick to rotate it on two different axes; it's certainly not necessary for the earlier levels, but advanced players can take advantage of the added control to play even faster and more cleanly.
The early levels start out really too slowly, with pieces coming one at a time and with long pauses in between. I didn't feel comfortable playing until things sped up a bit and I had to start planning out my moves and reacting on instinct. That's when I started to get in the zone...puzzle gaming bliss. ZooCube reaches that level very quickly, which is a testament to its design.
Although the gameplay is super-simple at its most basic level, things get far more complex as you progress in the levels and get better at the game. In addition to some advanced control features like the one I mentioned above, there are many power-ups and weapons that add a ton of depth (but also more to deal with and think about). Expert levels will throw dozens of different animal pieces at you, and they can even start you out with pieces already on the cube, like in Tetris's Type B mode.
ZooCube also includes several multiplayer modes, including four-player competitive and a very interesting co-op mode in which you can send pieces over to your partner if they could help him out. The co-op mode is a little confusing at this point, but there seems to be a lot of potential for strategy and cooperation in there. Players share a score and if any one person dies, everyone has gets a game over.
ZooCube is a ton of fun and I confessed to the game's designer that I'm probably going to waste way too much time on it this summer. The concept is weird and the gameplay is odd but terribly innovative and addictive.