Zoo Tycoon Complete Collection
by Chris Taylor
Do you think
you could run a major business? Buy and sell the things
you need? Manage staff and satisfy customers? You get to
try in Zoo Tycoon Complete Collection, a simulation game
from Microsoft. It combines the original Zoo Tycoon with
the two expansion packs Marine Mania and Dinosaur Digs.
Overall, you have over 100 animals to populate a zoo that
you build from a selection of over 500 objects.
To get up to speed, I ran through the on-line tutorials,
which explained the basics in clear and sometimes
humorous steps. At the end of the final tutorial, I
decided to take the lazy route and continue with the
existing zoo. I took a break for supper and neglected to
pause the game. I came back a couple of hours later to
find that all my animals had broken out of their
enclosures and escaped. There were no guests left. For
all I knew, they had been eaten. My zoo was bankrupt.
Lesson number one do not neglect your zoo.
I started again from scratch. I chose a medium-sized site
and was given $75,000 to begin. I built slowly, with a
few animal exhibits and then adding some food carts and a
restaurant. I built some rides for the kids. Then I
started really concentrating on adding more animals.
Lesson number one
do not neglect your zoo.
adopt animals, you have to provide what they need and
like. If your animals are happy, your guests will sense
it and appreciate your zoo. Zoo Tycoon is all about
happiness. Your aim is to maximize the satisfaction of
your animals and guests, as well as get a high rating for
your zoo. The zoo rating seems to come from a number of
factors, but if you run a good, profitable zoo and manage
to attract a lot of guests, your zoo rating will be high.
How do you know what animals need or like? Zoo Tycoon has
information screens about each animal available for
adoption. As well, as you modify aspects of a habitat,
animals living there will show their approval or
displeasure with little green happy faces or red sad
faces rising off them. You can also select an animal in
your zoo and ask the zookeepers advice. The
zookeeper will provide hints on how their habitat may be
improved. The 45-page manual can also help. As well,
there is a huge, 209-page Strategies & Secrets manual
provided on disk in Adobe Reader format.
I came back to find that
all my animals had escaped.
There were no guests left.
For all I knew, they had been eaten!
terrain elevation, most animals are happy on flat ground.
But some prefer hills or cliffs. For a price, you can
modify the ground. Also, the groundcover must be
selected. There are lots of choices, such as sand, fresh
or salt water, rainforest, dirt, grass, etc. A polar bear
on sand is an obvious bad choice. African buffalo are
happy with a mix of savannah grass, dirt, sand, and
You have to provide above-ground amenities appropriate
for your animals. There are lots of different types of
trees and bushes and you have to choose the right kind.
Some, like chimps, are very unhappy if you dont
provide them with lots of trees. Camels, on the other
hand, prefer rather sparse vegetation. You can also buy
various rock formations. Lions love big rocks they can
climb up on.
Shelters are a must. Your hoofed animals might like a
lean-to. Elephants need something more substantial.
Warthogs like burrows in the ground. All are available at
Of course, your animals need food. You must hire
zookeepers who will feed and care for the animals. They
know what the animals like to eat and, as long as you
hire enough zookeepers, you dont have to worry
By now, you might be thinking that running a zoo is a
quick way to the poor-house. But there are lots of ways
to make money as well. Right up front, there is an
admission fee to get in the zoo. And you can build a wide
variety of things for your lucky guests to spend their
hard-earned cash on, such as restaurants, rides, food
carts, souvenir stands and shops, cotton candy stands,
drink machines and much more. You get to set prices, but
I advise you to start with the default prices. Most of
your guests dont seem to object to them.
You dont have to gouge your guests for every little
thing. For a price, you can provide them with other
niceties to make their visit more enjoyable. On the small
side, there are things like park benches, picnic tables,
trash cans, and lamps. At the other end of the scale you
can buy a Japanese garden for your guests to relax in.
African Warthog 33 has given birth.
Guests are saying the entrance fee is a really
African Warthog 22
has died of old age.
Guests seem to be
very happy with your zoo.
Along about game year five, I started noticing occasional
fences were breaking and animals were getting out. I
would chase them down and put them back in their cages
and replace the broken section of fence. Then I
discovered that maintenance staff would repair fences. I
had a couple walking around the park sweeping up and
emptying trash cans, but I guess they were too busy to
get to all the fences. Of course, whats more
important? Picking up garbage or preventing a lion from
snacking on your guests? I finally hired four more
maintenance staff, dedicated them to fixing fences and
rarely had to be concerned about fences after that.
The work never stops at the zoo. You have to always be on
the lookout for developing situations. Animals give
birth. If enclosures get too crowded, the animals get
unhappy, so you have to sell some of them. Animals can
also die of old age and have to be replaced. If you
dont have enough maintenance workers, the trash
cans overflow and guests start complaining and getting
You should spend some money on research. If you do, every
now and then new items or capabilities become available.
You can get toys for your animals, new shelters,
education for your staff so the animals are better cared
for, tricks for performing animals, and more.
I had lots of fun just building free-form zoos. But if
you like a challenge, Zoo Tycoon includes three dozen
scenarios with defined goals. For example, one of the
beginner scenarios is a small zoo with 3 well-designed
exhibits and 3 animal types ready for adoption. The goal
is to have 6 exhibits with a suitability rating of at
least 60 and an animal satisfaction rating of at least 80
within 6 months (a year in Zoo Tycoon takes about 75
minutes). As you progress to more advanced levels, these
scenarios get quite challenging.
And if you get bored, try dropping some of your guests in
with the woolly mammoth or crocodiles. Or try taking out
a section of the lions cage as a big crowd of
guests go walking by. Make sure your speakers are turned
I find Zoo Tycoon to be a fascinating, engaging game.
Win98/ME/2K/XP, 64MB RAM (128MB RAM for XP), 233Mhz
processor, 1.4GB disk space, 4MB video card with 2D.
Street price in Ottawa - $50
Zoo Tycoon Complete Collection
Approx. $50 Canadian
Originally published: October, 2004
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The opinions expressed in these reviews
do not necessarily represent the views of the
Ottawa PC Users' Group or its members.