Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Zoo Tycoons

I have become addicted to Zoo Tycoon. How did this happen? I remember after their trip to Virginia my husband told me how much Chase had enjoyed playing the computer game Rollercoaster Tycoon and how impressed hubby was with it. Cool. We hadn't had any good educational games in a while. I'll look for it for Christmas.
That was how I found Zoo Tycoon. Same concept, except with animals. You have to design habitats and create your own zoo. Cool, Marina will like it too. But wait, there's more. The one I found included two expansion packs, Dinosaur Digs and Marine Mania. Chase loves dinosaurs. He could tell a T-Rex from an Allosaur when he was six. I plunked down my 19.95.
Now I must stress, I took over one of their first attempts. At this point, they both have amazing zoos. Marina's current zoo is running a multi-million dollar profit. She gets thousands of little virtual people daily who apparently stay in the zoo for months, because if you follow one of them around and watch the month button at the bottom it seems like they've stayed from June to September. No wonder they get tired!
Chase's current zoo has had its problems. In his enthusiasm to place his favorite animals he now has a T-Rex that ate its scientist/keeper. He smartly sold the spinosaurs that kept escaping and terrorizing visitors.
My zoo was thousands of dollars in the red when I took it over. The kids named it the Poor, Poor Us Zoo. I had to start by firing most of the staff (I felt like Donald Trump) and selling off animals from all but two exhibits, the saber tooth cats and the triceratops like animals whose name escapes me. To my credit, I've managed to bring it back up into the black--most of the time--and I've added ice age turtles and wooly rhinos, kentrasaurs, and caudipteryxes (bird like reptiles). I figured out how to budget toward marketing, research and conservation, and every time a little happy face rises from my animals, I just feel proud. The mammals and the turtles tend to breed like rabbits. That's caused problems, because if I sell an extra saber tooth to prevent overcrowding, little red angry faces appear over all the other saber tooths. But expanding their exhibit plummets me back into the red. What's a zoo manager to do? And the guests! They're hungry, they're thirsty, they need a restroom, they're tired, and the biggest insult: "I don't like this zoo, I'm going to an AMUSEMENT PARK!!!!"
And now, every time I drive around, I find myself thinking "Gee, that sidewalk looks about $500 long" and "Wow! A coniferous rock formation! The Lambeosaurs would have loved that!" (They died of old age).
And did I just see a happy face over the cats when they were fed?

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