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 is a zoo simulation game in which kids will learn about all aspects of zoo administration: construction, administration, and animal care-taking. It also teaches kids about animals including which earth "biome" the animal belongs to (i.e. savannah, tundra, boreal) to help them construct the proper habitat. In multiplayer mode, kids can trade zoos with each other or race to build the best zoo in Tycoon Showdown mode.
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What's it about?
Get ready to learn everything you ever wanted to know about running a zoo in ZOO TYCOON 2 DS, a detailed educational simulation that transplants the concepts found in its PC cousin, Zoo Tycoon 2, into a portable package – right down to the impressive graphical close-ups of the animals.
Players can start from scratch and let their imaginations run wild in Freeform mode, or work their way through Campaign mode's increasingly challenging timed scenarios. In both cases you'll have to juggle many responsibilities to keep your zoo running smoothly, whether it's building paths, enclosures, restaurants, restrooms, benches, and other amenities; managing cash flow, investing in research, hiring staff, adjusting prices, and launching marketing campaigns; or getting up close and personal with the animals by feeding and washing them, treating their illnesses, and other one-on-one interactions.
Is it any good?
Some of the challenges players will face in Zoo Tycoon 2 DS might include designing exhibits for three different horned animals, ensuring that the lions achieve a happiness rating of at least 70%, or creating conditions for an endangered species to mate and give birth. There are 36 animals in the game, from zoo staples like lions, ostriches, and zebras to endangered species and even some prehistoric and "fantasy" animals that are unlocked later on as special rewards. Each species requires different care based on the "biome" they belong to –- such as savannah, boreal forest, tundra, or aquatic, and you must construct an appropriate habitat for them by laying the right ground, foliage, rocks, toys, and shelter.
It might take players a while to get the hang of the controls and the detailed menus while struggling against the imposed time limits, but once the learning curve has been overcome Zoo Tycoon 2 DS proves itself to be an enjoyable and educational game with impressive depth.
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