Please note. 5x5 Zoo is playable without understanding Japanese, but it does not include an English instruction manual. You can download a PDF of the English instructions by clicking here.
In5x5 Zoo, each player creates their own zoo on a 5x5 game board. What will you fill that board with? Animals, of course, with the game including six types of animals on 1x1 tiles as well as a dozen animals on 1x2 and 2x1 tiles.
In each of the three rounds, you're going to use a worker-placement style system to acquire animals tiles, guest cubes, special action cards, door tokens, and more. Guests come in six colors: five of which match five of the animal colors (and these guests only want to see those types of animals), and a sixth color (white) that doesn't care what type of animal they see. Those are the guests you want most, but of course to acquire them, you must give up other things.
Many of the animal tiles have walls along one or more edge, and these tiles should be placed against other tiles with walls. During the round, you'll place the animal tiles that you've acquired on the board, with these tiles touching one of the four entrances around the perimeter of your zoo, and before the round ends, you'll "lead" the guests through your zoo, with the red cube stopping at the red (carnivorous) animal, the blue cube stopping at the blue animal, and so on.
You might need to snake your way around doors that block direct access to an animal, or you might have a door token that lets you cut through. When you don't have a matching guest for the next animal (or vice versa), the tour that day is done.
After three rounds, the game ends, with players possibly scoring extra points based on their final bonus card, such as the number of rows and columns in your zoo that are filled or the number of rows that have four or five different types of animals.