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Zoo Tycoon (2001) – PC Retro Review

Release Date
Available Elsewhere?
Nintendo DS
Approx Value
Our Score

In the early 2000’s a game without the title being ‘tycoon’ something or other was very rare.

It all started with Roller Coaster Tycoon, then a lot of smaller developers and publishers caught on to the trend.

Then Microsoft announced that they were releasing a tycoon game of their own, it had to be bought with a gamble, hoping that it wasn’t just any other ‘tycoon’ game.

Here we are with Zoo Tycoon, giving us the challenge to create and run a successful zoo, keeping both the animals and customers happy.

Zoo Tycoon is exciting to begin, but this excitement quickly dwindles into a pile of repetitive game play.  The problem is quite simple, there isn’t enough room for creativity.

There could have been an opportunity for designing the enclosures, which quickly comes to a dead end because the enclosures need to suit the animal’s requirements.

This means each enclosure ends up being quite out of your control and therefor pretty similar. Yes, animals are all different and have different needs, but even so, this is just a game but with not a lot to play with.

Similar to most other Tycoon games the view is isometric and cane be rotated so you can view the area from all angles. When your enclosure is apparently suitable to the animal living in it the animal will still be super grumpy that it’s there. Which in real life makes perfect sense, but this isn’t real.

How can by enclosure become more perfect then perfect?

You then need to assign the animals a keeper to make sure they’re are happy and healthy. The keeper is in charge of feeding, cleaning up and administering any medicine to the animals.

It’s not just the animals that need to be kept happy but the park visitors too.

You need to make sure that they have somewhere to eat, a toilet and you need to hire a maintenance guy to clean all of the rubbish. Also having somewhere, they can spend their money on such as souvenir shops.


If you spend money on research you can eventually purchase new items for your exhibitions, improve your employee’s abilities, get new animals and have a bigger variety of buildings.

When you start the game you can choose from either free form or scenario.

The scenario is where the real challenge lies. You’ll be given a time frame and a budget to make a certain amount of enclosures for a specific set of creatures, whilst keeping the animals and customers happy. The scenarios start out easy and get harder the further you get in the game. The free form option is set in odd places with strange terrains like an all water level or a moon map.

You have to plan a little more, but once you’ve done that you are back to building enclosures with no specific aim.

Overall the game doesn’t look hi-tech, but it’s not supposed to, especially considering its simple game plan. The sound isn’t anything remarkable but gives you the general feel of a zoo, for example, animal noises, moving crowds and a very sparse background noise.

Zoo Tycoon was made to be a building and management stimulator which explains the less than demanding pace once you have got everything in order.

Zoo Tycoon may not be 100% perfect with a few visual flaws and less than surprising sounds, but caring for a zoo full of miniature animals is definitely cute and entertaining.

Check out the game below, deoes it bring back some happy memories?

Zoo Tycoon (2001) – PC Retro Review
Is it worth playing again?
If you've ever wanted to run the ultimate zoo then this is for you. There are endless possibilities for you to explore and whilst it may look dated now its still great fun to play.
Classic Factor
Reader Rating1 Vote
Good Bits
You get to run a Zoo
Bad Bits
Scenarios can get really challenging
Retroheadz Score

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