A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this very entertaining zoo simulator mixes a lot of real animal knowledge and realistic animal behavior (tigers flinch and flee at the sight of a crocodile) and mixes it with some elements of cartoonish fantasy (pandas beat on drums and go down slides). It also has an animal editor which allows kids to customize their zoo inhabitants in a slew of different ways, from ear and paw size to stripe and spot patterns and more. Children could, if they wanted to, end up with a blue-and-green spotted tiger with a bushy tail and thick legs -- but it would still act like a tiger.
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What's it about?
In WORLD OF ZOO, players care for and play with the animals they create to live within their own virtual zoo. Every animal can have its appearance edited -- colors, patterns, tails, noses, paws, manes, etc. -- to suit the player's whim. As the zookeeper, players will feed the animals, clean them, play with them, and clean up after them. Keeping the animals happy earns the player stars, which he or she can use to \"buy\" more animals or build fancy play areas within the animal habitats.
Is it any good?
Zoo sims are certainly nothing new, but World of Zoo is well executed and has enough original features to make it stand out among the crowd. The focus on interacting with the animals makes World of Zoo's gameplay more akin to pet sims like Nintendogs than to business-y games like Zoo Tycoon. And World of Zoo's animals are loaded with personality. When they're at play, they're adorable; when they're angry (which is not often), they're appropriately scary.
Caring for the animals and keeping them happy is relatively simple, which means there's not a lot of drudge work you're forced to do in order to get in some good belly-scratching time. It is seriously fun to watch the animals. For instance, it is very amusing to build a dummy gazelle in the big cat habitat and then seeing a lion bat at it the way a kitten bats at a a ball of string. The creature editor, where you can mix and match animal body parts, is also insanely fun to play around with; that feature alone could give kids hours of enjoyment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about responsibility and caring for pets and animals. What would be required to care for a real animal that is overlooked in the game?
Parents can also use the game as a jumping off point for discussion and further research into the plight of endangered species. Children who become interested in the topic through playing the game can look up real-world ways to help.
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