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Game Review of:
Zoo Tycoon

 

Joe and Marion Barth are volunteers with APCO and Joe is the current treasurer. They keep busy spoiling the grand girls, working as disaster assistance folks with the Red Cross and traveling.

From the January, 2002 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

We picked up a copy of ZOO TYCOON, a Microsoft game at COMDEX.  It seemed a logical one to review since Marion worked at the San Antonio Zoo as a docent for 10 years and had a pretty good idea of the way a zoo should be laid out.

The game installed with minor problems in that you had to have an “Active X” plugin to use the internet downloads, but that was no big problem.  Once installed it performed flawlessly.

The concept seems to build on the method used in the “Sims” games. You design something, watch it closely, tweak it as necessary and success will be yours.  In other simulations the creatures you design will let you know how you’re doing. In Zoo Tycoon the health and happiness of the animals is your reward.

Our grand daughters (9 and 7) heard us installing the game and they gathered around. Within ten minutes WE were watching them play with minimal study of the manual and lots of trial and error.

The girls loved it. Top of the bunch of games. The best ever.

You see, they were thrilled when they got the habitat of the animals set up properly and they were shouting with happiness when some of the animals gave birth to new babies. (Yeah, we had to remind them to include both sexes in the beginning, but at least we had some input). They had real tears when animals got sick and <gasp> died. They recognized the cycle of life but it still hurt.

The game has an excellent tutorial and practice games to get you into the swing of it. You have easy access to help as you proceed to investigate what each button does and the concept is quite easy. 

You fence in an area and buy animals to put in it. Set up a shelter and habitat based on the information on the animal. Add soda machines, snack bars, gift shops, restrooms, trash cans and other items as the customers come in and money becomes available.

Warnings on the health and happiness of the animals show up and you can check the status of health, food, happiness on each animal. You can sell excess animals to gain money and to “age” the zoo population by selling older animals and keeping the younger ones.
You verify the overall status of the zoo by being awarded blue ribbons for superior work and for visitor happiness. You can even get foundations to make grants to help the money crunch.

If you build a wrong habitat, the unhappy animals will die and you’ll lose visitors. Also, placing the wrong enclosure around a lion can cost you visitors when Leo snacks on the crowd!

The game comes with built in scenarios that have predetermined goals and are win/lose games. You can also play the Freeform game by establishing the parameters, the most important one being money. A lack of funds will really make life difficult (hmmm, a point not every adult understands but one the girls figured out rather fast).

You can register the game on the Internet and obtain other items and creatures from the Microsoft web site. The process is rather easy IF you’re using Internet Explorer. Navigator users can expect many, many java script errors.

One nice touch is in the concept of beautifying the zoo by placing trees and flowers around it. You must add certain types of trees/rocks/plants to exhibits to make the animals happy as well so the program not only educates about animals but also about some of the horticultural aspects also.

There are ways to find the happiness level of animals and guests and to analyze the finances of the zoo. You can manipulate the staff and even fire those that you no longer need. Maintenance workers need to be hired as well as tour guides.

Ratings from guests identify needs and give you a chance to satisfy them ranging from food to restrooms. Keeping guests happy means they’ll spend more on food and drink (Spurs management, take note).

All in all the girls and we old folks have enjoyed the game and do recommend it as a special gift since it seems to run about $35 unless you happen to catch a bargain.  Well worth the cost!
 


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