Zoo Tycoon 2 DS Review
Tycoon games are released on the PC in a fairly steady stream, but only a few of those games avoid being forgotten within a few months after their release. One of the tycoon series that have managed to avoid slipping quickly into oblivion has been the Zoo Tycoon games. THQ now attempts to capture some of that zoo keeping magic on the DS with the release of Zoo Tycoon 2.
Some tycoon games are intense number-crunchers that are basically spreadsheets with a nicer interface. Others are more focused on building: if you build it they will come, and bring their money along with them. Zoo Tycoon 2 sits firmly in the latter category. Income is important in that without it you can't build your zoo or afford the more exotic animals, but as long as you cover the basics it's hard to not make money at the game. If you enjoy putting your business skills to the test, then there won't be much of challenge here for you. On the other hand, if you simply want to collect and care for animals, it's not a bad game at all, although it will probably keep you enthralled longer if you're about ten years old.
The game features a nice tutorial that will tell you everything you need to know to build animal exhibits and to care for the animals that you place in them. Everything is nice and easy to control thanks to extensive use of the touch screen, and the tutorial makes things even easier to learn by pointing out exactly where you should tap for each task in the game.
At the core of the gameplay is the animals' happiness. Happy animals mean higher ratings for your zoo, higher ratings mean happier visitors and happier visitors mean more money; money which can be used to make your animals happier and to buy more animals. The first step in making an animal happy is to provide it with its preferred environment, or biome. Camels prefer sand, rocks, and a palm tree or two, while moose prefer grass and plenty of trees. Other factors affect an animal's happiness as well, such as ensuring that its basic needs are met. Determining whether an animal is unhappy is pretty easy. Just tap on the animal in your zoo and you'll be taken to a summary screen that represents all of the animal's needs as a group of bars. It's easy to tell at a glance that an animal isn't getting enough food or is feeling sick.