|Microsoft is back with an expansion for its popular Zoo Tycoon game and with Marine Mania you get to play with all your favorite fish.
Well, that’s the bottom line about Marine Mania. You get loads of marine animals that you can buy and you have to make sure that they live happily ever after in your zoo… Well, that’s not really the case as missions tend to be different and you can get missions where you have to cure diseased animals after which they will be put back to their original surroundings. Can it be that Zoo Tycoon has improved ? Yes.
Missions vary from starting up a basic zoo with a small amount of animals to having a zoo which earns a living by caring for ill or injured animals or even zoo’s where people don’t have to pay any entrance fees and where you have to make sure you get enough money from your shops and restaurants. Nice variation all along, and not always as easy as you would expect (although it isn’t too hard either once you get a grip on the whole concept).
Next to the old Zoo Tycoon animals, you get the new Marine Mania animals which contain harbor poises, orca’s, sharks, manta rays, eals, otters, etc.
Each animal has its own preferences so after building a tank (make sure it’s big and high enough), you’ll have to place the correct foliage and shelters to make your animal happy. You can also place some toys for it to play with.
A lot of people prefer to see some real extra income and that is the reason they choose the trading industry. It is one way to make quick money in a short span of time. Unlike early days when only people who knew concept made money now you need to know QProfit System!
Income can be gathered by admission fees and the whole load of Zoo Tycoon shops and attractions. Marine Mania has several equal shops but also a few new attractions like “Swim with Dolphins” or “Shark Tunnel” have been added.
You can research a lot of things like new foliage, training for your workers (marine specialists, zoo keepers, tour guides, …), animals, etc. Some research will reduce your upkeep costs while others will give new features that become available. Some research for animal care for instance is also good for increased donations as people will appreciate the suitability of the zoo for animals.
Visitors will run around the Zoo and do loads of things (annoying you is only one of those ;p). They’ll visit your exhibitions, attractions and eat until they almost explode. Caring for your visitors will improve the amount of people visiting your zoo and therefor increase your income.
Shows have to be performed in a show tank and this has to be put next to a normal tank. Show animals are such as bottlenose dolphins, great white sharks, orca’s, etc. The only disappointing part is that for the shows you do not only need the grandstands which require quite a big amount of maintenance, but also a marine work who is not able to work on anything else during that time so if you do shows, you’ll need at least 2 marine specialists in your team or most of your marine animals will get hungry.
There are enough scenario’s and features to keep you occupied for quite a while and the combination of the Zoo Tycoon and Marine Mania exhibits give the game good variation. Also, the minor points that were pointed out in our original Zoo Tycoon have been taken away so the “fun” element has increased. You can see marine animals jumping around in their tanks, enjoying themselves, or see the great white shark getting angry because he doesn’t like doing shows.
Another good option is that you can assign tasks to your workers so that if you’ve created a really large zoo, they won’t have to run around doing everything at the same time, but rather can balance their activities which gives you a better profit as you’ll be able to use less workers while still keeping the whole zoo running fluently.
The main problem I found in Marine Mania was the fact that from time to time guests and animals can be angry without any apparant reason. When checking their “thoughts” it’s just plain blank. Like they don’t have a brain and like nothing more than just to be angry. Hopefully, Microsoft will release a patch soon that resolves this minor problem.
Seeing that Microsoft hasn’t released a patch yet (which they probably will) and that often new scenario’s and features are added to both Zoo Tycoon and its expansions, the Marine Mania expansion is a good one. The graphics have slightly improved over the original game, the gameplay is much more fun, and overall you’ll be able to keep yourself busy for quite a while before getting tired of this game. IF you like tycoon games that is of course.