|3 year old logic dictates that every zoo should have a pink giraffe|
- Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
- Developer: Blue Fang
- Publisher: THQ Nordic
- Release Date: 31 October 2009
- Time played: 8.3 hours
I can’t quite remember how I managed to obtain a copy of World of Zoo but according to my Steam account’s history, I managed to acquire the game in 2014 as a key activation along with RACE the WTCC Game and Trainz Simulator 12 - so a bunch of random games indeed! Anyway, since it was a key activation I probably have someone to thank for this game and I’m guessing if it isn’t the ever generous Steam user Mix-Master (who provides a majority of my keys) then it must be one of my friends or family. So I’ll just collectively thank all of you for funding my gaming habit and increasing that backlog :).
Okay, so back to World of Zoo, why on Earth did I want this game in the first place? One part of me is thinking I mistook this game for something quite different, i.e. Microsoft’s Zoo Tycoon which is actually a management simulation game involving zoos. In my defence though, both Zoo Tycoon and World of Zoo were developed by the same company, Blue Fang Games (which closed its doors in 2011) so you can understand my confusion. World of Zoo (released in 2009 for the Nintendo Wii and PC) is a game focused at a much younger demographic as it does away with almost all business management aspects and instead gives you lots of opportunities to get up close and personal with the animals: it’s basically Tamagotchi with zoo animals where you get to feed the animals, play with them, clean them and take care of them when they’re ill. New items, new animals and new exhibits are unlocked with tokens that you generate by showing attention to the animals or completing challenges.
And that’s really all there is to it but does that mean the game is any good?
What I like:
Great fun for pre-schoolersThis game is perfect for younger kids especially pre-schoolers. The game is totally mouse-driven so the kids won’t need to memorise any particular keys and you’ve got large pictorial icons to click on, meaning kids not quite competent at reading yet are able to navigate the menus.
As mentioned previously, the game is also like Tamagotchi with zoo animals. Kids will love being able to take care of virtual animals, throwing beach balls at them to play with, hand-feeding them, showering dirt off them with a hose and just giving them lots of affection in general.
The game also gives players the ability to create new animals and customise them. If you’re like my daughter, this means pink giraffes and giant green donkeys; there are actually quite a few customisation options available including species, age (i.e. adult or baby), sex, size, behaviour type, voice pitch, skin patterns and skin colours.
CasualWorld of Zoo is a casual game. There’s no way you can really fail. Provided you invest the time in taking care of the animals, you’ll earn tokens to unlock more things, and most kids probably don’t care about the earning of tokens anyway – they’re probably just as happy to continue playing with the same giraffe for hours on end. Actually, I lie. The only things you can fail at are the timed challenges but even then the game uses positive language such as “good job” or “great effort” (so you can definitely tell this game was developed with kids in mind).
Family-friendlyIt goes without saying that this is a family-friendly game. There are no drug references (well except for those sleepy time biscuits I’m guessing), adult themes, nudity or violence.
EducationalWhile the game can be played by younger kids, older kids and even adults will appreciate the interesting facts provided courtesy of National Geographic. These show up whenever you’re creating a new animal and reviewing which species to go with. Just keep in mind that this is only a small part of the game though so despite there being some educational benefits to playing it, I wouldn’t class it as an edutainment title.
Visually appealingDespite the game being 7 years old, the game has aged pretty well with graphics that are still visually appealing. The game also runs smoothly, as you’d expect from an older game running on newer hardware.
What I dislike:
Not much for the adultsBesides the occasional interesting fact provided courtesy of National Geographic, I can see the game losing its appeal really quickly with adults, unless you’re the sort to like playing Tamagotchi/pet management style games (but that’s what kids are for, right? ;) )
Sound effectsEach of the exhibits tends to lump several species of animals together. While you’re not going to get too much variation in the panda or giraffe exhibit, I suspect the variations are more pronounced in the small monkey, big cat or horse exhibits. The way the game seems to work however, is that all animals in an exhibit make the same noises – so all small monkeys make the same cries and all horses neigh the same way. Considering you have horses, zebras and asses making the same noises, this doesn’t seem particularly accurate. Surely asses bray like donkeys right?
Lack of variety with animalsYou only have access to six exhibits: koalas, pandas, horses, small monkeys, giraffes and big cats, so it really won’t take too long before you have them all unlocked (only a few hours if you are smart about it). In the Wii version of the game you apparently have access to 11 exhibits which seems like a better number but somehow with the Steam version you only get access to just over half of the animals that the Wii version gets. Ripped off.
Overabundance of toysYou tend to have a whole bunch of toys in each exhibit that basically do the same thing, i.e. bounce around and entertain the animals. I sometimes feel like they could’ve introduced more interesting toys instead of different looking beach balls.
Pathing issuesThe animals can sometimes get stuck running in circles or bumping into other animals in the exhibit, although thankfully they usually sort themselves out after a while.
No Steam Trading Cards, Leaderboards or AchievementsIt’s a pretty old game so I guess they never got around to implementing these.
Score – 7/10 (Alright)
Assuming you’re purchasing this game for the target demographic (i.e kids) or you’re just into Tamagotchi games featuring zoo animals, then this game is not a bad distraction for several hours. The game has aged well despite it being 7 years old and the interface is so intuitive even a 4 year old can figure it out. The game even provides some interesting facts for older kids and adults courtesy of National Geographic. While there are some minor issues with respect to pathing, sound effects and a general lack of animals to play with, none of these are deal breakers.
Is the game worth $14.99 USD?: Yes, but only just, and only if you’ve got kids as I can’t imagine the game will keep the attention of an adult gamer for very long.
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[ LINK: World of Zoo Steam Store Page ]