|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Torus Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Majesco||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 23, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Caring for the health of animals is a noble pursuit, and it's certainly one which should translate quite readily to a game format aimed at the all-ages crowd.
With several hospital drama titles either already out or shortly on the way, Majesco's Zoo Hospital on DS features an interesting change of pace by focusing on mending bones, splicing wounds, and diagnosing the ailments of our loveable animal counterparts. It's just too bad the game feels like something is seriously missing in certain respects, especially since some solid effort was clearly put into the aspects that do work properly.
Zoo Hospital literally starts with players being dropped off at a "world famous" zoo where your Aunt Lucy works as a veterinarian. She's been kind enough to let you intern there for the summer. You'll be helping her examine a range of sick common and exotic species in the zoo as you also go around and meet new arrivals. Sadly, that's all you'll need to know of the story because that's all there is to it.
Initially, only 10 animals inhabit the zoo, but it seems you can't throw a rock without hitting a new arrival. New creatures constantly come flooding in at a steady rate, at least for awhile. You'll max out around 40 animals, and at that point all that's left is to continue treating the same creature over and over again. Aunt Lucy encourages you to meet the different animals in her care, and as they become sick she walks you through the process of diagnosing and treating their illness.
In the main interface, the top screen shows a 2D map of the zoo with paw prints indicating the location of animals. The lower screen gives a closer look at what animals are located where. Tapping a portrait of an animal triggers its sound, lets you meet the animated creature face-to-face, and presents a paragraph of informative notes about the species. Surprisingly, the facts are actually pretty interesting as they cover the size and weight of the creature, its natural habitat, its mannerisms, and even identifying features.
The zoo interface itself is decent enough, but it's pretty dull to look at, and you'll be staring at it frequently to search for the next sick animal. In contrast, the animations and graphics for the animals are excellent as is the sole character portrait of Aunt Lucy. The various operation mini-games which make-up the bulk of the actual gameplay lie somewhere in between. Fortunately, you'll spend more with the animals than on the map.
An animal's portrait will flash when it becomes ill, and tapping the icon lets you bring the creature into an operating room outfitted with the latest animal life-saving equipment. While on the examination table, the animal will exhibit behavior relating to its sickness or injury. Aunt Lucy also provides an extremely brief clue about the creature's problem. Then it's up to you to properly diagnose the condition so it may be treated. This is where Zoo Hospital begins to shine.