Zoo Tycoon 2 Review and Re-Design Concept

Zoo Tycoon 2 NDS

I. Synopsis:

Zoo Tycoon 2 DS is a zoo simulation game for Nintendo DS. The game is about having a zoo, creating exhibits, and having animals. Within time, your zoo will have audiences or guests that will roam around and interact with the stuffs you put in the zoo like the animals, fast food, drinks stand, souvenir shop, etc. By interacting with these structures, you will earn a couple of dollars for your zoo fund. Your task is that you will have to build, develop, and maintain your zoo through a fast paced timeline. You can build roads, place food or drink shops, various items, trees, rocks, and exhibit areas or cages for your animals. You can also hire staffs for maintenance, guest relations, and animal care or training. There are varieties of animal species you can put in the zoo. Each has a unique characteristic, biome, and nature, beginning with basic zoo animals and eventually being able to put rare, endangered, and even extinct animals in your zoo. Basically, the game is about developing your zoo to put animals, make these animals happy by fulfilling the 5 basic needs or by hiring a staff, then the more these animals become happy, the more crowd or patrons will come visit, and the more visitors you have, the more money goes to your funds. You can also use your funds to do research programs, advertisements to improve your zoo. Since this is a fast-paced game where the months go by in a couple of minutes, you can quickly see the progress of your zoo as well as see your animals multiply when you pair both genders. Eventually, when you reach a certain point in your progress, you will receive an award with a specific bonus. These awards can either give you money, or unlock a feature on your zoo like rare animals, or larger facilities. The goal in this game basically is to keep this Zoo running and gain all those precious awards.

Since this is in Nintendo DS, we cannot really haggle much with the graphics due to the system’s limitations. However, there are plenty of other improvements that can be conducted with just a few studies. The game isn’t that heavy or big in size, and there are so much more space for reconstructions, redesigning, additions, and improvements. Here are some of the changes and additions we can have for this game.

II. Improving the game

According to several critics, game reviews, and players’ comments, Zoo Tycoon 2 for Nintendo DS lacks quite a bit of fun factor for serious gamers. Therefore, it can be really helpful to consider putting up some minor to ‘major’ changes and additions for the game. These changes will jump out of the original Zoo Tycoon box. This means that some of these new ideas have never really existed in any Zoo Tycoon game and would surely deviate with the concept quite a bit. Here are the key improvements that may come in handy for this game.

· Putting a story mode for the game

· Putting characters into the game

· Having a unique Player profile

· Adding Events in the story mode

· Improving the Zoo Report

· Having tenants in the Zoo

· Increase the size of the Zoo

· Add more animals

· Downloadable freebies

· Individual Animal Awards or points

· Online Animal Trading (to replace the trade Zoo option)

· Multiple version for the game

III. Implementation

III-A. Story Mode (or a better campaign mode)

Unlike the current campaign mode where there are different scenarios, the game would be more interesting if there would be a ‘Main Game’ to be played with just one scenario, but loaded with events. Not like the freeform game where the player can select or set his/her own preferences on the starting money, the pre-set assets will be more justified so the game will be played with a challenge. Let us consider the current campaign mode to be just a tutorial. And let’s add to the current freeform game and imply the pre-set starting money and stats. This way, there will be a normal game or campaign game mixed with a story or plot or certain events with some characters. A story will not be interesting without characters.

NPC’s or (non-player characters)

Mayor, Veterinarian, Mystery Man

There should be at least two or more NPC’s in the game to interact with.

First one would be a Mayor as the person to grant you the business permit and the other awards instead of just getting it instantly; he will also become like your guide in the entire game. This could give a little flavor to the game and not just a straightforward game without a storyline. This NPC (Mayor) will be the one to state all the goals or the tips that we see at the bottom screen. He will be the one to tell the tutorials and he will take part in the entire game as your judge, tutor, and counselor. The Mayor appears every event and he will be the one to introduce the investors or the tenants. A simple illustration or picture of a Mayor would be fine to establish this NPC’s character.

Another NPC would be the City Veterinarian. There will come a time or event when a random animal will get sick and none of your staff could fix this animal. Then this veterinarian will come and heal the animal. This event will randomly take place for a few times during the game just to add some interesting story. There can also be times when an animal will die of aging and the vet will also be there to announce the sad news.

The mystery man is like a suspicious looking, hooded or disguised person. During an event, he will come and sell you a very rare prehistoric/fantasy animal (can either be a phoenix or a T-Rex). After purchasing this item, an option will be unlocked in the animals menu for this rare animal. He will come back after a few years and sell you another type of extinct or fantasy animal.

III-B. Profile:

This feature was in the other edition of Zoo Tycoon 2. Many gamers find it more appealing when they get to put their names into the game they are playing. Most games now have this customizable feature where the players can actually feel that they are the owner or president of that zoo. It simply makes the user become a part of the game itself. Also, this is very useful if the player will be sharing the game with someone via Wi-Fi or DS Wireless Connection. So, here are some of the things that a player can name or personalize.

· naming yourself/the player

This will be the player’s personal ID. After selecting the Story Mode option from the Main menu, a dialog box will pop-up with a typing window on the lower screen. The user can use his/her own stylus to type his/her name. There can be as much as 15 characters for the player’s name.

· choosing gender

Sometimes, gender can be an issue as some players can also be female. This will be after naming the character. The player can simple choose between the two gender signs and tap it to decide.

· choosing a picture or avatar

It’s also appealing for a player to customize their own avatars for the game. This can also be useful during Wi-Fi, or multiplayer mode. By default there will be at least 8 different avatars per gender. This way, the user can visualize which image suits his/her personality better.

· naming the zoo

This could be really important. How will people know your zoo if it doesn’t even have a name? After choosing an avatar, there will be a naming dialog box on the lower screen for the player to type the Zoo’s name.

· naming the animals

Just like pets, these animals should also have their own names. After each purchase, a typing dialog box will immediately appear on the bottom with a description on top “Name this animal”.

· choose or create your zoo’s banner or logo (can be optional)

Your zoo should have its own visual identity. A logo or a banner would be perfect. A short list of default banners or logo with pre-set pictures will be available for the player after naming the zoo. At least 36 different logo or banner clip arts will be available for the user to choose.

III-C. More detailed report:

The game’s current stat page isn’t really much. It is simple and nice, but not all the players here are aged 10. These following data would make the zoo report a bit more professional. Aside from the existing data we can see like the zoo management, number zoo info, marketing, research and shop, we can also add a few more sections that will actually add a more accurate report for the zoo.

· Animal Record

This displays the record of animals you have or you’ve had in your zoo. The data will be like this: | Animal name | Type | Biome | Total IP (Individual points) | Total Rating | Total Donations|

· Investors / Tenants

This displays the record of the current investors/tenants you have in the zoo. It also shows their individual sales statistics. Players can also choose to remove or end the contract with these shops, removing them from the zoo. There will be a button there with an icon similar to that terminate sign on the staff menu. The data will be like: | Name | Rent | Total Sales | Terminate|

· Statistics

This displays a statistics page where there is a graph of the Zoo’s annual financial progress. The graph can be something like this:
· Shops(additional)

In addition to the current options, we can also add the ‘Tenants’ section where players can increase or decrease their monthly rent. Of course, their sales would be their own, the Zoo earns from these shops through their monthly rental.

III-D. Tenants:

These are other companies or businessmen that would like to invest in your zoo. They earn profit from the guests and the Zoo earns profit through their monthly rentals. Also, they add more attraction to the Zoo. “The bigger the business, the bigger the rent will be”. These are small to big businesses like:

Jolly Hotdog stand

Savannah Theater House

Animal Museum

King Gorilla mini game

Jungle Arcade

Pyro’s fireworks

Joe’s Popcorn stand

Dino Diner Restaurant

Anaconda Express

Jolly Hotdog stand – a small hotdog stand

King Gorilla mini game –a small booth of Gorilla mini game where the player can also play this game

Joe’s Popcorn stand – a small cart of popcorn

Savannah Theater House – a medium sized building where guests can watch the special show. Just like the dolphin show, there will be a short animated scene of animals doing something in their natural habitats. There can be as much as 4 or more different animal performances like the ‘Sea Lion’s Exhibition’, ‘The Tiger’s Circus tricks’, ‘The Chimpanzee story’, or ‘The Unicorn’s magic show’.

Jungle Arcade – a medium sized building where the guests can play in the arcade. There can also be any type of arcade mini games here like a ‘Jungle themed Tetris’, or a simple ‘Space Invader game’.

Dino Diner Restaurant – This is a large restaurant that serves both food and drinks, and has its own restroom. This is far more appealing than the default Restaurant.

Animal Museum – This is a medium sized building where the guests and the player can view Animal Cards (just like the one in the options menu). But here, you can view them during the game.

Pyro’s fireworks – This is a small booth of fireworks. With this in the Zoo, the player can purchase a fireworks display any night of the year.

Anaconda Express – A special addition to the Zoo. This is a small train that roams around the entire Zoo. When this feature is unlocked, the player can now purchase the item ‘rail tracks’ from the road menu in the construct option. The rail tracks will be the path for the Anaconda Express which is available in the facilities menu.

These investors don’t come into your zoo instantly. That’s why we should have a new story mode where they will come to the zoo and offer a business proposal when a certain event is triggered or a certain number points are attained.

III-E. Events:

These events will be triggered by reaching a specific date or points as the Zoo progresses through the years. These events will take place from time to time like:

· Mystery Man

Once every 8-10 years, this Mystery Man will come into your Zoo and offer a really rare and extinct animal. This animal can either be a/an (Anaconda, White Tiger, or a Velociraptor).

· Press Releases

This will usually take place upon opening or after reconstructing the zoo. It’s just a short press release announcing the debut or re-opening of your Zoo. This can be a short series of images or illustrations showing a setting of a press release with media people all over. The one talking here will be the Mayor as he cut’s the ribbon to open the zoo.

· Business Proposals

Investors will come by and talk about opening a business inside the Zoo. The Mayor will come to your Zoo and talk to you about this business proposal. When he is done explaining, there will be an option to accept or refuse an offer. This decision will be permanent and non-reversible. Once the player accepts the offer, there will be a new feature in the buildings menu where the proposed structure will be available.

· 10th/ 50th/ 100th year Anniversaries

Just like birthdays, these dates are worth celebrating. There will be fireworks displays during night and lots of balloons during the day. The Mayor will simply talk to you about how it went the last few years and congratulates you for making it this far in the game.

· Permit to Reconstruct

After gaining a certain amount of money and rating, you will be awarded with this permit. This will allow you to unlock the ‘Reconstruction of the Zoo’ option. This unlockable feature will resize the zoo for about double its original size allowing the player to put more animal exhibits and other stuffs in the zoo. The option can be seen in the research program tab.

· Online Events

This event is triggered online. A GM or the game’s publisher could make seasonal events like the ‘Spring Festival’ during spring, ‘Santa’s bag event’ during Christmas, ‘Spooky Zoo’ during Halloween, and ‘Easter Egg hunt’ during Easter. These events will encourage more players to stay active and play this game more often. During these events, special items or animals can be unlocked.

III-F. Increasing the size of the Zoo

After unlocking the Permit to reconstruct item, the player can now increase the size of the zoo. The allowable number of staff, animals, exhibits, and structures will also be doubled. This way, the players will not go unsatisfied for not having all types of animals in display in their Zoo or by not being able to create more exhibits, structures, etc.

With this feature implemented, the navigation system will now have a new tool, the hand tool.

The hand tool will allow the players to pan into the entire zoo. If they tap on the hand tool icon, the cursor will change into a hand and they can pan or navigate through the zoo faster.

III-G. Add more animals:

It is really cool to have lots of different species in the zoo. These animals are not in the current edition of the game, and they will surely boost the flavor of your zoo. Some of these animals already appeared in the other versions of zoo tycoon and might be really good to bring them here as well.

· Peacock – peacocks are really colorful and people love the beauty of its colors.

· Tiger – tigers are really famous and this game deserves this gorgeous beast.

· African White Bat – one of Africa’s sacred animal. (unlockable)

· White tiger – white tigers are really rare and far more endangered than the regular tiger. (mystery man)

· White lion – white lions are also rare and will bring more attraction to the zoo (unlockable)

· Anaconda – one of the largest snakes in the world. It is worth displaying very popular species in the zoo. (mystery man)

· Velociraptor – another famous dinosaur will give a good impression to your zoo. (mystery man)

· Phoenix – since the game already has a fantasy animal (unicorn), why don’t we add another one? The Phoenix is a legendary bird that symbolizes life and rebirth. (unlockable)

· T-Rex – the real King of the Jungle. This 36ft giant will surely attract the world into your Zoo. (unlockable)

· Reindeer – Santa’s Own Reindeer (during Christmas season)

· Werewolf – The spooky creature from the dark (during Halloween)

· Golden Sea Bass – A rare giant fish available only during spring season

III-H. Downloadable freebies

Since Nintendo DS is equipped with the Wi-Fi feature, why not take advantage of it? Here’s a chance to make the players more excited and psyched about this game. During certain Key Events in our time, we can also give the Zoo Tycoon 2 players something to look forward to. They will be able to go online with the Zoo Tycoon Server and be able to download these amazing freebies.

Downloadable Events

Spring Festival during spring,

Santa’s bag event during Christmas

Spooky Zoo during Halloween

Easter egg hunt during Easter

Downloadable Items

Christmas tree – during Christmas

Santa’s Candy House – during Christmas

Spooky tree – during Halloween

Downloadable Animals

Reindeer – Santa’s Own Reindeer (during Christmas season)

Werewolf – The spooky creature from the dark (during Halloween)

Golden Sea Bass – A rare fish available only during spring season

III-I. Individual Animal Awards or points

Each animal has its own necessity stats or meters. We can add another few values to these stats like the points and awards. Since each animal has their own ratings in donations and happiness, why not give them medals for these attainments?

IP or Individual Points are values that the animals get by averaging both ratings and donations. The rating system will be converted into numbers. One star will be equal to 500 points.

So with all 10 stars, there are 5000 points for the ratings. This points will be added to the total $ donations. The maximum IP is 10000.

Featured Animal Award – awarded to the animal that has the Top earnings in donations within 10 years.

Healthiest Animal Award – awarded to the animal that least get sick within 10 years.

Most Popular Animal Award – awarded to the animal that has the Maximum (10000) individual points in 10 years.

These awards are shown through medal icons.

III-J. Online animal trading

Now, the current trading system allows both players to exchange the entire zoo. This one seems a little bit disappointing for the players after working hard over their own zoos. What we can improve in this feature is by letting the players trade the animals instead of the whole zoo. Since our animals now has its own IP or individual points, awards, names, that makes these animals seems like a collectible item for the players. The players will have more interest in linking with their friends and raising their animals better.

In the trading screen, both players connect via DS Wireless communications. One will be the host, and the other one will be the client. When both of them are connected, the bottom screen displays like this:

III-K. Multiple versions for the game

Just like the other editions of this game, it would really be fantastic to have a multiple version for Zoo Tycoon 2. Since we now have the 3 special animals as addition to the current set, we can divide these animals into two or three groups. These groups will each have a specific set of animals that is only available in this version of the game. Here are the suggested version titles:

Sacred Lands

The featured animal here would be the African White Bat. Also, the animals like the White Tiger and the White Lion can only be found in this version of the game.

Primitive World

The mighty T-Rex will again be the featured animal in this game. Since the title is Primitive world, we can make the prehistoric animals like the Saber-toothed Tiger and the Triceratops only available in this version.

Legendary Path

The Phoenix will be the featured animal for this version. The Unicorn and the Yeti can also be exclusively attainable for this version.

Now these exclusive animals can still be available for the other versions, and that is by using the Animal trading system. This way, the players would want to purchase 3 different game versions instead of just one, or if they prefer to trade with their friends, they can use the Animal trading system via Wi-Fi or through the DS Wireless connection. Here are some sample package designs for the three different versions.

In conclusion to this, many popular games in Nintendo DS has most of the features discussed above. Best selling games should have the characteristics to blow the players’ minds and make them want to buy the game. With these improvements, Zoo Tycoon 2 DS can rise above other games and become a really popular game for Nintendo DS. Its reputation for being straight-forward and having no storyline will have to change into a more delightful and a fun to play game. Also, with three different packages and versions, this game can also land another record for DS. Those best selling DS games are most likely having two or more expansions or versions that can interact with the other versions. This function or feature is very popular to gamers and will have to keep on waiting until the next version is released. As the gamers get more excited in purchasing and playing this game, Zoo Tycoon 2 DS can have more future versions for the game where these gamers will continue to buy.

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