Let's Build a Zoo
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Let's Build a Zoo
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Let's Build a Zoo is a downloadable 2D business tycoon game for Windows PCs. Players are put in control of a start-up zoo and tasked to build animal enclosures and amenities with seed money provided by investors and business partners. In order to get more money and grow the zoo, they need to meet certain goals, but they must be wary of how they proceed. Moral choices -- such as whether or not to purchase high profile animals from the black market, syphon energy from the local power supply or build wind turbines, or trick patrons with false attractions -- might increase business in the short term, but will impact the player's morality score and may have adverse consequences on their relationship with the local community. There's little in the way of gray area -- players can always tell right from wrong. The overall vibe is very upbeat, with players rewarded for keeping their animals healthy and active, their workers well paid and satisfied, and customers entertained and looked after. Kids are likely to learn a little about how a zoo operates and what it takes to care for a large and diverse population of animals along the way. Optional downloadable content is available, allowing players to manage genetically created dinosaurs in their zoos as well.
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What’s It About?
LET'S BUILD A ZOO takes the concept of a tycoon simulation and compresses it into a cute 2D game filled with moral quandaries. As in most business simulators, players spend a good chunk of their time designing and building their business -- in this case, a zoo. You'll build enclosures, populate them with animals, hire staff to feed and maintain them, and construct amenities -- gift shops, food stands, washrooms, benches, shelters, trash bins, and signs -- for park visitors. Meanwhile, players also need to recruit staff, give them work assignments, and build research facilities to selectively breed animals. This all needs to be done while keeping an eye on their profit margins and appeasing their investors and business partners, who will reward them with additional funds to help grow operations. Players will also be firmly in control of the ethics of their business, choosing whether or not to deal with shady animal sellers, whether to take in refugee animals from wildfires, and whether to use green sources of energy to keep the zoo's emissions down. Doing the right thing can lead to positive headlines in the local paper and help facilitate deals with nearby companies -- such as supporting a transit manufacturer by buying their buses -- all of which can potentially be good for business. Once players have fully explored the base game, they can opt to purchase additional content, including Dinosaur Island, which doubles down on the game's gene splicing mechanic to bring ancient animals back from extinction and build a dinosaur-themed park.
Is It Any Good?
This is a great way to get into business simulation games. Let's Build a Zoo may not have the graphical glitz of games like Jurassic World Evolution 2 or Zoo Tycoon, but it has a lovely atmosphere and a gradual learning curve that should make it welcoming for genre newbies. It doesn't take long to build multiple enclosures, begin breeding animals, and start swapping offspring with other zoos around the world. Investment money comes in quickly so long as you accomplish some simple tasks (attracting a certain number of visitors, acquiring a set number of animals). Within a month or so, you'll likely have purchased additional plots of land and expanded your zoo even further, delving into exciting new research in gene-splicing and energy that will help you keep quickly expanding. You can pause time whenever you like to make sure you accomplish all you want each day, and interacting with building and structures to check on animals, re-zone staff, or edit an enclosure requires little more than a couple of clicks.
But the real fun comes with making ethical decisions. As the story of your zoo unfolds, much depends on critical moral choices you make. Will you allow your geese to be outfitted in a paper costume to fool patrons into thinking they're some sort of exotic waterfowl? Will you purchase animals from a dealer who illegally caught them in the wild? These decisions not only come with business consequences, but often generate news stories -- which you can actually read -- that affect your reputation. Players who pick up the Dinosaur Island expansion will be treated to even more moral choices with a flavor similar to those the scientists in the Jurassic Park/World films faced regarding the ethics and methods of bringing extinct animals into the modern world, as well as some interesting dilemmas -- such as what to do with the enormous bodies of expired dinos. It adds an engaging layer that both enhances the simulation and makes players think about the sorts of dilemmas that many business people face in their day-to-day work. Let's Build a Zoo is entertaining, intuitive, and even a bit educational. It's an easy recommendation for kids looking to give business simulators a shot.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about screen time. Let's Build a Zoo is the kind of compelling, ongoing simulation that can keep players up late at night as they think, "I'll just play one more day," so how do you ensure a really fun gaming session doesn't devolve into an unhealthy marathon?
Wild animals tend to be best left in the wild, but on what occasions does it make sense or are people perhaps even obligated to begin looking after them inside of a zoo?
- Platform: Windows
- Subjects: Science: animals, ecosystems and the environment, Social Studies: the economy
- Skills: Creativity: making new creations, Self-Direction: set objectives, work to achieve goals, Responsibility & Ethics: integrity, learning from consequences, making wise decisions
- Pricing structure: Paid ($19.99)
- Available online?: Available online
- Publisher: No More Robots
- Release date: November 5, 2021
- Genre: Simulation
- Topics: Activism, Dinosaurs, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: NR for Not Rated
- Last updated: June 3, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Jurassic World Evolution 2
Intricate theme park sim is closely tied to the films.
Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection
Revamped animal/business sim great for new audiences.
Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 Complete Edition
Whole lot of building fun in one package.
For kids who love animals
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