The Game: You are Zeke the Zoo Keeper, and apparently you’re asleep on the job because the critters are breaking free! Your job is to nab them with a net which appears occasionally (a la Donkey Kong’s hammer), and otherwise avoid the stampeding animals until you can wall them back into their cage. (It seems odd, caging the animals with bricks – wouldn’t that make them rather difficult to feed or show to the public?) Then you keep going until you reach Zeke’s girlfriend Zelda. (Taito, 1982)
Memories: Taito may have jumped the gun a little on their publicity campaign for Zoo Keeper, which touted Zeke and his girlfriend Zelda (no, not Nintendo’s Zelda) as the next wave of franchise video game characters, right up there with Mario and Pac-Man and family. Instead, Zeke and Zelda wound up in the same class as Mappy and Venture‘s Winky – the victims of the video arcade’s equivalent of the old Hollywood stand-by line, “Don’t call us – we’ll call you.”
This isn’t to say that Zoo Keeper isn’t fun, though – on the contrary, it’s a riot! It’s a fast-moving little game which has quite a bit of replay value. Coincidentally, Zoo Keeper was designed by Rex Battenberg, who would later wind up working for Magnavox’s in-house Odyssey2/Odyssey3 development group toward the end of that product line’s life span.