IGN Review of Zoo Hospital
Zoo Hospital seems like a game for an aspiring veterinarian that is also an overachiever. You want to help sick dogs and cats, Janie? Well I want to fight viral affections in cobras! I win. The sequel to the mediocre Nintendo DS title improves on the formula, and is a fun, though short lived vet sim.
Zoo Hospital picks up where the Nintendo DS game of the same name left off. You've just received your veterinary license, and now you're working at the local zoo with your Aunt Lucy. The zoo is in a lot of trouble and is in danger of closing and being replaced by a minigolf course. It's up to you to help keep the animals healthy and happy to attract more visitors and save the zoo.
Running the Zoo Hospital involves analyzing sick animals to diagnose them, then treating their ailment. Players go through a series of minigames to restore the sick critter to full health, and are graded on it at the end.
The ailments vary from things like lice and sores, to cavities and viral infections. Each sickness or injury has its own specific minigame. When a sick baboon came in with mouth pains, I first had to diagnose (using the Wii remote to keep a magnifying glass over a moving circle) then treat. Players use the remote to inject animals with anesthetic, pull teeth, maneuver obstructions from intestines, fire lasers at puss filled boils, and a whole bunch of other procedures. The minigames are different enough to make each one fun, and the 3D models of the animals look great on the Wii. Often times the procedures have multiple steps, like in the case of the baboon. Plaque buildup, cavities, and rotting teeth are all different operations.
The minigames aren't difficult to complete, though it does take a fair amount of skill to get an A or S ranking. The controls are pretty tight, which is good because Zoo Hospital requires precision during the games. Everything works well and the game takes you through the steps of each different procedure on the first time. If players can't remember what to do later in the game, one of the assistants pops up to tell them the next step. It's clearly designed for the younger crowd, and has a good difficulty range for say the 7-10 crowd, but anyone older will probably find it too simple.
Outside of taking care of one animal at a time, there really isn't much to do. Players can visit the animals in their enclosures and while they look great they each only have one looping animation. Players can feed them and pet them, as well as view information about them, which occasionally comes in handy for giving the animal medicine. It's really not all that exciting, so I doubt kids would spend much time visiting the animals beyond the initial visit to watch the critter in action.
There are a couple dozen animals in the zoo, and chances are a player will find their favorites (even if they like obscure nocturnal primates like the aye-aye). Once the novelty of unlocking new animals is over, however, the game does take a decline. Treating the same animals over and over, and doing the same procedures can get a little tiresome, but there is a solid amount of gameplay before that happens. The multiplayer mode helps too, since the procedures are sometimes longer and more complex when played with a friend. But still the appeal of the game starts to drop off rapidly once all the animals are unlocked, and unfortunately that doesn't take very long.
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