Zoo Tycoon (2001 video game)
Zoo Tycoon boxart
|Developer(s)||Blue Fang Games|
|Designer(s)||Blue Fang Games|
|Release date(s)||October 17, 2001|
|Genre(s)||Business simulation game|
Zoo Tycoon is a business simulation developed by Blue Fang Games and released by Microsoft. It is a tycoon game in which the player must run a zoo and try to make a profit. Although first released for Microsoft Windows and Macintosh in 2001, it was ported to the Nintendo DS in 2005. It was followed by two expansion packs, Dinosaur Digs and Marine Mania, which were released in 2002, as well as a sequel, Zoo Tycoon 2, released in 2004.
The goal of Zoo Tycoon is to create a thriving zoo by building exhibits to accommodate animals and keeping the guests and animals happy. Exhibit-building is one of the primary goals of Zoo Tycoon. To keep the guests and animals happy, exhibits should be suitable to the animal; for example, a lion is best suited to a savannah environment. Choices in terrain, foliage, rocks, shelters, fences, toys and the presence of zookeepers all contribute to the suitability of an exhibit and the happiness of the animal. Guest happiness is dependent on animal choice, animal happiness, buildings, and scenery. Buildings may include bathrooms, restaurants and food stands, shops, or entertainment buildings such as movie theaters. Scenery involves aesthetics that raise guest happiness slightly, such as topiary art, light posts, or benches. Keeping both animal and guest happiness allows the player to gain monetary awards and steady income. To help manage the expanding zoo, players can employ maintenance workers, zookeepers and tour guides. If the animals are released from their enclosures, they can kill the guests.
There are three modes in Zoo Tycoon: Tutorial, Scenario, and Freeform. Tutorial teaches the player how to build exhibits and keep guests happy. Scenario mode has the player complete a series of objectives, sometimes within a specific time-frame. These objectives may include achieving a certain guest and animal happiness, achieving a certain exhibit suitability, displaying a certain number of animals, or breeding a certain animal. Freeform allows the player to choose the amount of money and the map with which they start. They are presented with an open lot and a limited selection of animals, buildings, and scenery available for purchase. As the game progresses, more animals and items become playable. Additional animals and items may be researched, where money is invested to make them playable.
Zoo Tycoon was created in the wake of the success of the 1999 Hasbro Interactive game RollerCoaster Tycoon, which sold well for many years. Zoo Tycoon did well enough for Microsoft and Blue Fang Games to release two expansion packs: Dinosaur Digs, which added prehistoric-themed items and animals, and Marine Mania, which allowed aquatic-themed items and animals. Eventually, Microsoft bundled the expansion packs with Zoo Tycoon to create Zoo Tycoon Complete Collection as Hasbro had done for RollerCoaster Tycoon. This had the functionality of both expansion packs and bonus content.
Released on May 19, 2002, Dinosaur Digs includes 20 new prehistoric animals to choose from including mammoths, saber-toothed cats, and varied dinosaurs as well as prehistoric-themed items and buildings. In addition, new types of electrical fences to accommodate the animals and prehistoric foliage have been introduced. As in the previous game, more extinct animals, foliage and better care for dinosaurs can be researched. Each dinosaur is adopted as an egg. The game introduces a new staff member, the scientist, to care for the eggs and, once it hatches, the dinosaur itself.
Despite the fact that the player can purchase electrified fences to keep dinosaurs contained in exhibits, it is still possible for them to escape. If one does escape, the player will have to hire a dinosaur recovery team to find and tranquillize it so that it can be returned to its exhibit.
The second and final expansion pack to the game wherein players can create and manage underwater exhibits or merge aquatic tanks with traditional land habitats was released on October 17, 2002. Interactive tutorials and virtual marine specialists are available to help players maintain animal happiness. In addition, 10 new scenarios were added.
Also new in the expansion pack is the ability to create aquatic shows.
The success of Zoo Tycoon also led to the creation of new features by fans, both fact and fiction. Mods were created to fix problems with the game and unlock new features. Many of these mods were made possible by an official program created by Blue Fang Games named Animal Project Editor (APE), which allows the player to easily create one's own animals or objects, with either simply renaming a premade item or creating frames one-by-one for something new.
Zoo Tycoon 2 was released on November 2004. Although released with fewer animals than Zoo Tycoon, more animals were introduced in its expansion packs: Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species, Zoo Tycoon 2: African Adventure, Zoo Tycoon 2: Marine Mania, and Zoo Tycoon 2: Extinct Animals. The first two were bundled in the Zoo Tycoon 2: Zookeeper Collection. All of them were bundled in Zoo Tycoon 2 Ultimate Collection.
Zoo Tycoon was received with mixed to positive reviews, gaining an average 68 out of 100 at Metacritic. Positive reviews came from Computer Games Magazine and GameZone, which gave the game scores of 4.5 out of 5 and 8 out of 10, respectively. The more negative reviews came from Adrenaline Vault and PC Gamer. Commercially, Zoo Tycoon did quite well, with 4 million units sold worldwide from its initial release to 2004. It was also one of the top 15 best selling PC titles in the United States.
Zoo Tycoon and its compiled Complete Collection also garnered several awards and accolades, gaining the Bologna New Media Prize in 2002. Zoo Tycoon: Complete Collection received the Parents' Choice Foundation Gold Award - 2003, the AIAS Computer Family Title of the Year Interactive Achievement Award - 2004, the Scholastic Parent & Child Teacher’s Pick – 2004, and the Children’s Software Revue All Star Award – 2004.
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