As an iPhone game, Tap Zoo (free) isn’t all bad; as you manage your tiny zoo trying to earn money, you can have a good time. It’s the game’s proclivity for trying to make you spend more money on it that gets annoying.
All of Tap Zoo is based on timers. You use the game’s currency (coins and stars) to purchase the various things you need to build a zoo – staff, refreshment stands, sidewalks, and of course, animal exhibits. Every few minutes (or hours), each item will earn you money, which you then re-invest into the zoo.
There’s a lot of waiting, but that’s also nice, in a way. You can jump into Tap Zoo for a minute, collect your money (some animals take several hours to produce cash), buy some stuff, and jump back out. The clock runs while you’re not playing, which means you can play at your convenience.
But Tap Zoo also feels like a racket. The stars, which are required to buy a lot of the best stuff, cost you actual cash. You can get “free” stars if you download (and often pay for) other apps, but that’s it. Tap Zoo makes the resources required to play it scarce, then asks you to purchase them. It immediately makes this free app potentially very expensive.
While it’s not bad on its own, too much of Tap Zoo feels designed to get you interested in playing so you’ll spend $9.99 or more on stars to keep playing Tap Zoo. It’s a little underhanded and greatly diminishes the game.