It's really funny sometimes...you know, what games companies decide to localize in certain areas. It's even stranger to think how certain games gain popularity. Let's assume that this game never even existed...A group of company executives sit down at a table one day and tell themselves that they need to start using some outside-of-the-box thinking to come up with some interesting concepts for a new game. Some random person then says something like: "There are already a number of falling object puzzle games, but why don't we make one that deals with a ZOO and ZOO ANIMALS!?"...Well, as silly as that might sound, the people over at Sega thought it was a GREAT idea! They sat down, got to work, and the game was finished. We ended up holding a Game Gear game in our hands sometime in 1996. Baku Baku Animal (Or "Gobble Gobble Animal" as I've heard elsewhere) is one of those special games that surprise you upon its release. While there are better games for Game Gear that were strictly left in Japan, this one somehow makes it to U.S. shores near the very end of the Game Gear's life cycle. Heck, the game can also be found for the Sega Saturn in North America, though the game is harder to come by for Game Gear. How is this unusual game?
Well, the game is actually pretty good, and one of the better puzzle games for Game Gear. While it's more or less just a typical falling block puzzler, it is solid nevertheless. The game is about a King who is looking for a zookeeper to take care of his spoiled daughter's pets. You take the role of Polly, a girl whose love for animals must surpass all else if she is to land the title of "Royal Zookeeper", and she is the main protagonist in the game. She will go up against several silly foes (that seriously need a grip on reality...) to prove her worth to the King.
The graphics are fair for a puzzle game in 1996 for this handheld. Nothing revolutionary, but they do get the job done. The blocks and animal icons are easily distinguishable and the game is fairly colorful. Due to the Game Gear's relatively limited colors, the story sequences don't look too great, but they get by. As far as Game Gear is concerned, the graphics do the handheld justice, especially for an action puzzle game. The music is decent enough. I've heard better on Game Gear, but it is at least appropriate given what kind of game it is so each tune fits. I must admit that I actually like the ending and final level themes of the game in particular. As far as sound effects, BBA presents you with loud bleeps and bloops that don't really enhance the mood in anyway. Thankfully, they don't really take your focus away from the actual game itself either. It would have been a bit interesting if the different animals made different digitized yells or noises, but ah well.
The cool thing about this falling object puzzler is that you must line up rows of food and animals. The animals will eat the food that best corresponds to what they like (Example: Monkey = Banana), and you can create some hectic chains as some may imagine, creating a frantic puzzler once more. Chains allow you to attack your opponent by dropping junk on their side of the screen. If you think about it, the premise is a bit similar to games like Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo by Capcom. You must rid the screen of blocks by using the corresponding animal. Similarly, In SPF2T, you must rid the screen of gems by using the corresponding item. You also can get a special coin that allows you to remove all of a particular block. For example, if you use your coin and place it on a banana, you can get rid of all the bananas on the screen. Using the coin wisely can really get you out of a tight spot! Baku Baku Animal is moderately challenging and the story is cute...what little story there is. All things considered, BBA is a decent game that should be worth the time of any action puzzle fan.- Written by Vyse the determined -