A Look At Disco Zoo's v1.2.1 Update: Hats, Balls, And Outer Space

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 10 July 2014
Updated: 11 July 2014
Category: Features
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It's time to start rescuing space animals from the Moon in the version 1.2.1 update of Disco Zoo, a mobile game for iOS and Android devices. Plus, let your animals entertain themselves with balls and amuse yourself by dressing them up in fancy hats.

The version 1.2.1 update of Disco Zoo was recently released for both iOS and Android. The update adds a few minor changes to the game, some graphics tweaks, and a large amount of new content, including two new areas to unlock, 12 new animal species to collect, and hats and balls that you can purchase to decorate your animals and entertain them.

I've been playing through the update over the past few days and thought I would document my discoveries, even though I haven't officially reviewed the game yet (but have written numerous news stories). The update adds a significant amount of content and really revitalises a game that was in danger of stalling permanently with players who have been playing since it first debuted in February for iOS devices and who had long run out of things to do.

Graphic And Game Tweaks
In general the changes here make no difference to the gameplay and are just cosmetic improvements but I am disappointed at one particular change. Zoo visitors would occasionally wander into and among the habitat enclosures (and habitats that are being constructed) and hang out with the animals, which I thought was hilarious (and so did the developers).

(In the screenshot above, the woman on the left in the blue top is wandering around the construction area, having come from a habitat in construction to the left.)

Unfortunately, as of this update, this will no longer occur. I am really going to miss this because it really added to the absurd humour of the game, and it was especially fun having people dance into the habitats during the disco moments.

A Look At Disco Zoo's v1.2.1 Update: Hats, Balls, And Outer Space

Another, less upsetting, change is the reorganisation of the statue-garden layouts. The statue gardens are built once you have filled a region's habitat and have to start releasing the new animals you rescue. Each garden features a statue of each animal from that region, which begins as a bare pedestal and then becomes a bronze, silver, gold, and, finally, diamond statue to indicate how many animals you have released. The gardens now have visitor pathways that run up the side of each garden, instead of through the middle. Previously, with the pathways running up the middle and bisecting the gardens, it made it appear as if half of one region and half of another region belonged together.

If you tap a statue in the statue garden it now takes you directly to that habitat (I don't think the game did this before), which is a very convenient shortcut.

The graphic showing a giraffe sleeping has been changed to reflect more accurately how giraffes actually sleep, which we reported on in May.

In iOS, the bus in the parking lot now has visual and audio feedback when you tap it (to initiate the secret mini game Funky Bus). This mechanic was introduced in the initial Android version of the game in April to make it easier for players to find Funky Bus.

When you try to exit Funky Bus it pops up a confirmation dialog box that wasn't there before (and, to be honest, isn't necessary).

In version 1.1 secret messages were added to the newspaper reviews to help people find Funky Bus if they had diamond status in all their habitats. Those messages have now been removed as they aren't necessary and it doesn't really work anymore with more newspapers now added to the list due to the two new regions that have been added to the game.

The disco ball now has added sparkle. Who knew that was possible?

The new City habitats (see below) have background lighting effects that activate during discos.

The Zoo Office gets a new graphic when you reach Ultra Zoo status.

The animal count/income rate counter on the top left of the screen used to pull up the zoo stats if you pressed it. Now it takes you to the Zoo Office screen, where you can select the zoo stats options directly. It's an annoying extra step and I can't imagine why they changed it.

Finally, the number of people wandering around the zoo has also increased. I don't know whether this was intentional rather than a bug but sometimes it's unsettling to see quite so many people crammed outside a habitat watching the animals. It might just be because I naturally hate being trapped in large crowds but sometimes they also only congregate on one half of the screen, which, to me, points to it being a minor bug. [Update: Bug confirmed]

Balls And Dapper Hats, Oh My!
It's been a long wait for the latest update so many early players of the game had probably amassed quite a collection of coins and Discobux, the two previous in-game currencies (there is now a third - see below). The solution? Stuff to buy, and decorations, of course!

Players can now buy balls from a stand at the zoo entrance to add to a habitat (one at a time), which the animals then lazily play with. The current options are basketball, soccer ball, beach ball, and diamond ball (all of which move around more like a giant Hacky Sack). They can be bought either with coins or Discobux. If you tire of a ball you can remove it from the habitat and it will go into your ball collection for future use.

A Look At Disco Zoo's v1.2.1 Update: Hats, Balls, And Outer Space

By pressing the animal graphic at the bottom of each habitat, which pulls up the animal info panel, you can find a new section called "Manage Hats". In there you will find the hat store, which comprises 15 types of hats, including a baseball cap, top hat, viking helmet, and beret. Three of the hats can be bought for coins and the rest cost Discobux. When you buy a hat it's added to your hat collection and you can then assign it to a specific animal in each habitat, as well as remove it later and reassign it somewhere else.

A new gameplay mechanic has also been added with the hats: visitors to the zoo can lose theirs and will ask for help in finding it in a specific region's habitats. Once you find it you can either return it for a coin reward or buy it for Discobux. For hats that cost Discobux in the store the rate is reduced so it's worth buying it from the visitor if you want it.

City Slickers
A Look At Disco Zoo's v1.2.1 Update: Hats, Balls, And Outer SpaceUrban vermin, comprising raccoons, pigeons, rats, opossums, and the mythical sewer turtles ("cowabunga"), make their debut in this update in a new region called City.

The rescue vehicle is called a "Fifty-Seven" (it looks like a flying Cadillac Series 70 Eldorado Brougham, which debuted in 1957 (without the "flying" part, of course)), which costs two million coins and requires the zoo to be at Epic Zoo status. The first successful rescue costs 1750 coins with an incremental increase of 250 coins for each subsequent successful rescue. I'm not sure what the maximum is as I haven't reached it yet but I'm already past 43 000 coins.

Update: It's a 1957 Chevrolet.

(Probably Not) The Final Frontier
Developer Owen Goss posted the following graphic teaser in May, which had everyone wondering if space would be the next region to explore.

The answer was yes, of course, but the rocket has been redesigned slightly as fans pointed out that the homage to Tintin may not go down well with Moulinsart, which enforces the Tintin rights with a very heavy hand (you can read the conversation thread on that tweet above). The final rocket is now in rainbow colours that match the zoo entrance.

A Look At Disco Zoo's v1.2.1 Update: Hats, Balls, And Outer Space

The space section comprises two screens - the holding pen/space-launch-boarding barn and the rescue rocket - and the entire game mechanic is incredibly smart and revitalises the experience for long time players.

How it works is as follows: once you've rescued enough animals to fill a habitat you are then able to release extra ones you rescue, which gains you statue progress in the statue gardens and a small coin reward, an earlier game mechanic that was introduced to give players something to do once they'd filled their habitats. However, even this eventually hits a ceiling - you can keep rescuing and releasing indefinitely but once your statues hit diamond status your statue progression is over.

Now, when you rescue additional animals you have the option either to release them as before or you can send them to the space holding pen, the Spacepen, where they will be given a helmet and they will wait in the paddock until you need them. You can keep up to 10 of each species in the paddock.

A Look At Disco Zoo's v1.2.1 Update: Hats, Balls, And Outer SpaceThe Spacepen offers Space reQuests, which are requests from the other solar system planets and the Moon for animals - for example, Venus might request a rabbit. You then need to rescue a rabbit, if you don't already have one in the Spacepen, and send it to Venus, for a Space Coins reward, which is a new currency for the space objectives.

The rocket on the Launchpad now enables you to travel to outer space to rescue animals. Version 1.2.1 has introduced the Moon as a destination and, as always, six new species to collect (all of which are amusing pun-based creations) that are placed in new habitats in the zoo. However, unlike the Helipad, which requires coins, the Launchpad rescues require Space Coin funding and the incremental upgrade is quite steep at an extra coin for every successful rescue of a Moon animal (it starts at 10 Space Coins).

As you can see, then, it becomes very important to rescue older animals and for those who are still working towards diamond status in all their habitats it means that instead of releasing all the extra animals they don't need they can immediately put them to good use in the Spacepen.

I've been incredibly impressed with this game since it debuted, which is why I keep writing about it. It's due to everything from the smart user-interface considerations to the adorable pixel art and the fact that this game can be played without spending money and doesn't guilt-trip you into jumping back in if you need to leave it for a while (your animals won't die, nothing will penalise you, and so forth). The new space mechanic is absolutely fantastic. I didn't think this game could be improved further but it has been.

Possible Bugs
Unfortunately this update seems to have manifested a few bugs so we should probably expect a minor update soon to correct some of them.

Besides the crowd issue that I highlighted above (which may or may not be a bug but I really think it is [Update: bug status confirmed]), some people are reporting that when they get new trophies/statues a disco party doesn't trigger anymore.

Some players with the latest version of iOS installed on an iPhone 4 have reported a freezing bug that lasts about half a second every three seconds. I am playing the game primarily on an iPad Air running a slightly older version of iOS and I have experienced this a few times while playing Funky Bus, as have other people.

What's Coming Next?
There's no way to know what's coming next but people have been making suggestions since the game came out, including this more recent suggestion of a swamp area.

A swamp area would definitely be a great addition to the Earth habitats and since the rocket lists its current destination as the Moon I think it's safe to presume that future updates will include rescues to other planets in the solar system.

A number of people have suggested water-based habitats but in a Twitter reply to one fan query developer Matt Rix obliquely referenced possibly doing something else with that, so I am beginning to suspect that Disco Aquarium might be in development.

I really hope so.

Tags: #aliens, #games

This article was updated on 11 July to reflect the correct Chevy. I've been schooled by Owen Goss! Also, the crowd bug has been confirmed by Matt Rix.

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