Review: My Zoo (WiiWare)

Bigger animals, bigger features.

We thought quite highly of Hudson's last WiiWare game based on keeping animals, but we also warned potential buyers that it was not so much a game as an interactive screensaver.

My Zoo is meant to expand on the previous game in many ways. Aside from the animals being bigger, there are many new features and things to do with them, meaning you're not just feeding and petting them every day without any real payoff.

When you first begin the game, you'll immediately notice a DLC icon on the main menu: from the start, you can select eight different animals, but Hudson will release one new type of animal for four months, meaning the animal enthusiasts will keep coming back to the game for a while to try them out, provided they've got the small amount of money needed to buy them.

When you're ready to start the game, you'll be prompted to select a starting animal, and they're all quite different. The non-DLC lineup includes lions, elephants, bears and tapirs, amongst others. Once you've chosen a gender for your animal of choice, you can choose one of four locations to release him or her in, including a forest or a child's play room, which could be interesting if you chose the lion.

From there, the gameplay is not too unlike that of My Aquarium. You can feed and pet your animal, or try to call it towards you - this'll prove futile if you just got him/her though, because it'll still be wild! If your animal makes a mess of things, you will also have to clean it up before things get too dirty.

It would be quick to instantly label the game as being exactly the same as its predecessor from this, but keep it up for a while: once an animal has grown to adulthood, it naturally becomes able to have children. Simply put another adult animal of the same type into the same enclosure and wait for the magic to happen! For each type of animal you successfully breed, you'll unlock an award, giving you a bit of an incentive to keep playing. Your best breeding records will also be saved, allowing you to strive to beat your past achievements.

At the start you'll only be able to put animals in three enclosures, each having space for three animals, but every time you grow an animal to adulthood the game will give you an extra pen until you have twelve total. Counting future DLC animals, that works out to one pen per type of animal, meaning you can raise all animal types at the same time! As in My Aquarium, all pens can also be assigned different music, although this time only a few songs are classical music, while most of them are original compositions.

Of course, the previous game's screensaver-like aspect is still here too - if the Wii Remote becomes inactive or you press a certain button, the game will stop any progression, simply letting you look at your animals without any fear of having to take care of them. The camera can also be positioned at various angles to do this, something which was not possible in My Aquarium.

Conclusion

My Aquarium was great if you were fully aware of what you were getting into, and the same can pretty much be said of My Zoo. This time, however, even others might want to consider getting the game - the awards and records board add some game-like aspects which will keep you coming back. Sure, there's fewer animals to pick from this time, but you can't deny they're a whole lot more interesting to observe than tiny fish.