Zoo Hospital Hands-On
Help prevent the zoo from turning into a minigolf course by keeping its inhabitants healthy.
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Following in the footsteps of Zoo Hospital on the Nintendo DS, an entire zoo is once again under your veterinary care in Zoo Hospital for the Wii. From Majesco Entertainment and developer Torus Games comes this simulation game in which you treat the many ailments of exotic animals. If the thought of getting rid of boils or zapping pests off the back of animals makes you squirm, then once you unlock multiplayer mode early on in the game, you can make your friend do all the dirty work.
You play as a recent graduate from Veterinary College, and your aunt Lucy wastes no time in recruiting you for help. Her zoo is in trouble and she has had to sell animals to keep the place running. Furthermore, a local businessman has his eye on the property and can't wait to turn that striking piece of land into the biggest minigolf park in the world. As much fun as minigolf sounds, your animals will no longer have a place to stay if that happens, so it's up to you to maintain the health of the inhabitants to improve the overall zoo rating. A high zoo rating will attract new animals, which will therefore attract new visitors.
The main screen provides an overhead view of the park. All of the different types of animals have their own areas, and you can visit them if you want to give them a nice belly rub. The tutorial started us off with a mandrill, and we were told that he has a sweet spot on his head. Using the pat icon in the top left corner, we began to pat our mandrill until he sparkled in pink, an indication that we'd hit that sweet spot. There are a couple of meters in the top right corner of the screen that indicate how content an animal is, and frequent visits and personal care will ensure that the animal is as happy as it can be. When an animal is sick, its icon on the zoo map will flash in red, indicating that it needs to be taken to the hospital. After you click on the icon, you are taken over to the hospital, which is not too far from the entrance of the zoo.
On the examining table, you click on the magnifying-glass icon to examine the patient. This is like a minigame in which you need to target your Wii Remote at the circle that pops up. Each time you do this, the green lights that form the circle will light up. Once the circle is lit, you are taken into the problem area of the patient. If you're working with an animal that has fur, you're going to have to shave it before you can continue. From a selection of tools at the bottom, you can select a variety of implements that will be used in the many procedures that you'll encounter. In our first case, we selected our shaver and held the B button down, which let us shave down the mandrill. Once the game indicated that we'd shaved enough, we moved on to the next portion of the procedure. Given that our mandrill had a rash, we had to swab him and then inject him with a colored liquid. When you're doing injections, the target colors will change so that you have to match the color that shows up on top of the rash with what you have presented to you at the bottom of the screen. These techniques are shown to you in the beginning, but once your zoo starts to expand, you are on your own in terms of treatment. There is a helpful question icon in case you run into any trouble.
If you've played Trauma Center on the Wii, the gameplay here is very similar, except that when your patient is in distress, you zoom out and soothe it by petting it. Once it calms down, you can zoom in again to continue the procedure. You will have to do some stitching, remove boils with a laser, and use an ointment gun to battle against parasites. Other forms of treatment include dragging foreign objects out of an animal's insides by moving the object through the intestines, as well as fixing cavities and removing plaque.
As you go through the game you can collect awards, which are displayed in the zoo gallery. From the office, you can view what animals are under your care and some interesting facts about each creature. There are 47 real-world animals in Zoo Hospital, including seven that weren't in the DS version. There is also a bonus creature that has been described as "out of this world." The multiplayer mode is a cooperative endeavor in which players can treat the animals together.
Zoo Hospital has a variety of animals to interact with and check out. If games like Trauma Center are too difficult or gruesome for the younger audience, this is definitely a tamer version, even though exploding boils and tick infestations are still rather unpleasant. Look for Zoo Hospital on the Wii in August.