Control/Gameplay [5/5]
Karuki’s controls and gameplay are not only simple and intuitive, but most importantly FUN! The whole game takes place on a chalkboard, and you use your finger to draw lines on the screen to guide Karuki™ and his friends to safety. In order to complete a level, you need to collect a certain number of Karuki’s friends and bring them to the checkpoint. There are also a variety of colored diamonds scattered about; grab these to get even more points. Extra rescued friends (over the minimum required amount, mean even more bonus points).

While doing all of this, you need to be careful to avoid skulls (which takes away one of your 3 lives), wizards (which take away a follower), and water (which ends the game).

I wonder if Portable Zoo hired a hand model for this shot.

There are 6 unique levels. I have only have the game for about 24 hours, so I haven’t had a chance to complete them all yet. Apparently, if you make it through all 6, then things get tougher, with the addition of more challenges and stricter time limits.

The game may sound easy, but the wizards and skulls can sneak up on you and if you aren’t quick enough, you will find yourself gettng wet. Karuki offers an online high score ranking system, which can be viewed either in-game or on Portable Zoo’s website. Brisby…if you are reading this…I will be number one! 😉

The only (minor) thing I think is missing from Karuki, is a quick pan up the entire level before you start, so you could get a rough idea of the layout (instead of jumping blindly). Perhaps this could be optional, so as not to spoil the challenge for die hard players.

Graphics [5/5]
The visual style of this game is beautiful.
It all plays out on a chalkboard, with every element of the game looking like its drawn with colored chalk. While simple, the effect is really nice and makes the game look really unique. I almost feel like I’m watching Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings.

Sound [5/5]
There is some nice background music in the game, with a perfect “chalk-on-chalkboard” sound effect when you are drawing a line for Karuki and his friends to bounce on.

Replayability [5/5]
I spent at least 3 or 4 of the last 24 hours playing this game, and plan on spending a whole lot more time with it the future. The Online Rankings (Daily/Weekly/Monthly) will also keep you wanting to come back for more.

Final Verdict [5/5]
I was unfamiliar with developer Portable Zoo before getting this game. If I can put down Karuki long enough, I also want check out their two other releases: Quick Turn and Letter Bug.

Karuki is a “page one” game on my iPod. Congrats to Portable Zoo for creating a fun, unique, visually appealing game, that stands out amongst it’s 99 cent peers. Karuki is a definite must buy.

I just have a couple questions for Portable zoo (if they read this).
What exactly IS Karuki?
Are there any secret messages on the chalkboard?

Official Site
Buy it now Karuki