Zoo Tycoon DS Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

Nintendo DS
Release date:
October 10, 2005

Zoo Tycoon DS

Zoo simulations are supposed to be fun, right?

Review by Luana Rawlins (Email)
December 20th 2005

While it's quite nice to be able to have the ability to quickly navigate through your menus via stylus taps, it's also frustrating to have to drag through your map screen and be limited to directional controls when you want to place animals, shelters and such. Using the stylus to place fences and terrain alone is, well, a colossal tease. I can't tell you how many times I'd wished that an option to switch screens had been available.

The awkward controls directly hinder the entire zoo management process, which in turn saps the fun out of Scenario Mode. Seeing that months can easily fly by while you're trying to figure out how to move across the map the fastest way possible -- which, by the way, still takes forever -- objectives are easily missed and the frustration mounts. The developers try to motivate players to do well by introducing a Collectors' Card mode, but since you can only keep the cards you buy when you complete a scenario, one would be hard-pressed to keep playing over and over to get one card that only tells you little factoids about the animal on the front of it.

Since the quick tutorial doesn't go into the research modes available, you can easily go months in the game before realizing you could allot resources into expanding your selection of animals as well as their shelters, toys, etcetera. The volatile combination of a too-basic tutorial and a heavy menu system isn't very conducive to players new to the genre, for they'll find out how to go about running their parks all though trial and error (and unfortunately, many failed scenarios). The game's problem seems to lie in that it assumes that anyone playing Zoo Tycoon DS must automatically be a fan of the series in general; while the assumption may indeed be valid, it also serves to alienate people unfamiliar with simulation games, and may turn them off to them as a whole.

For a game that specializes in management, the only thing that Zoo Tycoon DS manages to do is piss off its owner. Although devoted fans may be able to trudge past the the clunky menus, irritating interface, and counterproductive tutorial to find zoological bliss, all those things just go to show that when it comes to simulation games, PC knows (and does) best.

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