What if, instead of going to the zoo and seeing the animals from afar in captivity, you could jump right in and really interact with the critters? Play with them, feed the animals, and make friends with all creatures great and small. Well now you can with World of Zoo on Wii and DS (Wii version reviewed here).
World of Zoo is made by the same folks who developed the Zoo Tycoon series, but instead of being a simulation game, World of Zoo is essentially a virtual pet simulator with wild zoo animals. There are nearly a dozen critters you can take care of, but you’ll start out by picking one and unlocking the others later. You have elephants, giraffes, zebras, crocodiles, lions, pandas, koalas, monkeys, and more!
Once you have an animal, place them in their zoo exhibit and have fun. Give them toys to play with, food to eat, and clean up after them. Make them happy by giving them what they want or need (portrayed with thought balloons) and hearts will come out. Get enough hearts to rank up your zookeeper level so you can use more items and have multiple animals in your exhibits. Earn star tokens by completing challenges and leveling up so you can buy new species of animals to take care of and playgrounds for your existing exhibits. Earn medals in challenges where you must clean your animals in a specific amount of time or go on treasure hunts with your critter friends.
You can even name, create and customize your own animals for your zoo. Change their color, pattern, and species. Want a green elephant or a pink giraffe? You can with World of Zoo. If you have any animal babies created, play with them in special baby-only nursery exhibits, or let them run around with the grown-up animals in the main areas. Snap photos and save them in an album to relive your favorite zoo memories.
The simple graphics are bright, colorful, and cartoony, and play control is easy to learn. Just point the Wii remote (no nunchuck required) to pet the animals, hand feed them or throw their food so they can catch it, brush or hose them down to clean them, and all other actions. Young zoo goers and animals fans who enjoy virtual pet simulators will definitely enjoy all there is to do in World of Zoo.
World of Zoo is rated E for Everyone with ESRB descriptors of Crude Humor and Mild Cartoon Violence. The crude humor comes when the animals poop. They make farty sounds and you must vacuum up little round, brown droppings. Violence is very mild. Crocodiles and lions might snap or pounce on you, or each other! Reading skill is helpful for some of the text, but not always required just to play around with the animals. There are a lot of pictures cues to help little ones along, and you can even click on the animals’ thought bubbles to bring out what they want or need. Young gamers may need help with some parts of the game, such as customizing animals. And a few of the actions and challenges are a little confusing, like the treasure hunt game. Some kids might get a little bored since this is just a virtual pet simulator, but for fans of this type of genre, they’ll have plenty to do with tons of awards and animals to unlock.