Zoo Tycoon

Brief game description

Love animals? Love zoos? Here is a game that let's you build your own zoo. Choose from scenarios rated Beginner to Very Advanced or just build your zoo from scratch. There are more than 40 species of animals (not all available to you at first). There are a variety of terrains, plants and rocks for zoo exhibits. There are buildings and decorative plants for your guests. Can you build a popular zoo that will be profitable?

The game developers invested a lot of time creating animal animations. The animals walk, move, rest and play like their real world counterparts. They also make the sounds that they should. They like exhibits that reflect where they would live in the wild and will only do well in appropriate environments.

There are many other nice touches to the game. Every animal, every exhibit, every building and every employee can be named. You can even name the zoo guests. Naming exhibits makes it easier to find the one that you want. Naming your zookeepers can make it easier to remember which ones work in which sections of the zoo.

Game play and hints for Zoo Tycoon

The game automatically starts you on the first tutorial when you play the first time. Complete that tutorial and you'll have enough of the basics to really play the game. You can complete the other tutorials, start one of the scenarios or start a freeform game. I'd recommend completing the Beginning scenarios, just because they give you a good start on building your zoo before you try a freeform game.

There are two basic parts to the game, you need to create good exhibits that make the animals happy and you need to attract guests. Creating good exhibits is straight forward, just consult the zookeeper on what is best for the animal you want to exhibit. Making sure the guests are happy is much more difficult. Guests like to see happy animals. They also like to have things to eat, things to drink, places to sit and pretty things to look at.

If you decide to complete some of the scenarios, you'll find that time is frequently critical. It's best to pause the game while you add new attractions for the guests, or add the fencing for a new exhibit. You can also take this time to inspect the buildings and exhibits that you have to see how they are doing. Once you place an animal in an exhibit, you'll need to start time again. That way, as you work on the exhibit, you can tell if your changes please or displease the animal.

A few hints to help with your money supply.

There are ways to tell if your zoo is doing well. A well made zoo should win awards, animals should be very happy and so should the guests.

Gripes about Zoo Tycoon

So far, just a few minor things.

  1. It is much much too easy to successfully breed a panda cub and have it survive.

  2. It is a bit disturbing to watch the virtual zoo keepers going into the exhibits. In real life, many exhibits have places to keep the animals while the zoo keeper cleans the exhibit. Watching the keepers walk straight into an exhibit with big cats, wolves, bears, etc. is a bit disconcerting.

  3. Some of the animals seem to have very short lifespans (one to two years).

  4. It is hard to believe that carnivorous animals would care so much about whether vegetation is from the right part of the world.

Conclusions for Zoo Tycoon

Put this on your list as a gift list for any animal lover. It's a highly addictive game, I'd recommend it for everyone. The most violent thing that you will see is a dust cloud if you put predator and prey animals in the same exhibit. Fairly realistic, you'll find it is hard to create a profitable zoo.

Game distributed by Microsoft and created by Blue Fang games.

Some final thoughts on Zoo Tycoon

It's a good way to learn a bit about the animals. The zookeeper recommendations include an information button which will tell you about the normal habits and habitat of the animal in the wild.

There are some very cute touches to the game. When completing scenarios, at the end of October a witch might fly over your zoo. Towards the end of December, Santa and a sleigh may fly across. I haven't seen this in a freeform game yet.

Cheat codes/Easter Eggs for the game

This information is taken from a web page. I make no promises that they all work.

Rename an exhibit to Xanadu or Cretaceous Corral to gain new animals to adopt. (Using on a new exhibit may cause the game to crash.)

Name guests John Wheeler, Hank Howie, Steve Serafino or Adam Binder to gain all animal shelters, staff education, endangered animals or animal houses respectively. If you use these, do be sure not to pay for research on these subjects.

Use $ (shift-4) during a freeform game to get $10,000, but each use causes fences to break up.