We’ve all walked around a zoo and wondered how difficult it can be to run one. After all, you just have to leave the animals in one place and keep them from escaping, right? However, if the multitude of zoo management sims on the market are anything to go by, there’s a lot more. While many games in this growing niche offer players the opportunity to dig into zoo ownership in more detail, Let’s build a zoo keeps things more cartoonish, more fun while also providing a decent challenge.
After being released on Steam in 2021, Let’s Build a Zoo finally has a Switch port, giving fans the chance to enjoy their budding attraction on the go. The game is largely the same as the PC version, with the same pixelated graphics and increasingly difficult balancing act that all management simulators are always sure to be. Players start the game with an investor expecting to eventually earn their money back but also give them a lot of freedom to decide how to do it.
The animals at your disposal start to be tamed decisively, with rabbits, geese, and sometimes snakes being the most likely inhabitants in the early days and weeks of the game. You’ll eventually be able to trade other zoos for more interesting animals like giraffes and raccoons, but the game adds an extra weirdness at the beginning once the player unlocks it. CRISPR Splicer.
Ever wanted to find out what the evil combination of an owl and a capybara would be called? The answer is owlybara (of course) and Let’s Build a Zoo is your chance to play God and bring this and other monsters into the world for fun and profit. There are 60 base animals in Let’s Build a Zoo, each with ten color variations to unlock through crossbreeding. When you factor in the game’s DNA splicing mechanics, there are over 300,000 animals to include in your zoo.
Let’s Build a Zoo takes a clean approach to the zoo’s opening hours in the game. There are quests to complete that can familiarize the player with the mechanics, but they are also free to complete the scenario and experiment. Sometimes moral dilemmas will arise and require the player to do something either obsessively kind or cruel, earning or losing moral points depending on your choices.
These options aren’t just for role-playing purposes; they affect what buildings you can unlock and how you want to expand your zoo. Make ‘kind’ choices and you’ll unlock recycled and eco-friendly buildings. Make ‘evil’ choices and you set up buildings like a slaughterhouse to “dispose” of unwanted animals. It’s an interesting system that really makes you think about your options. The downside to this is that if you’re less than completely good or completely evil, you won’t be able to unlock some of the more interesting items in the game’s research system.
The game’s concise approach to the first hours of play means you’ll quickly spot some glaring problems with your zoo. For example, putting more than a few rabbits in a cage, great for attracting customers but not so good if you don’t want a mountain of rabbits in a few short weeks. This guide doesn’t tell you things like how to stop animals from breeding or what to do with them as they age. We were in the game for a few hours before we realized we could donate or mutilate aging animals to prevent them from dying naturally and lower our zoo rating. An extra touch of information would be a huge help in points.
Let’s Build a Zoo’s Switch port is very similar to the original PC version, although the Joy-Con controls aren’t quite as intuitive as the keyboard and mouse. Sometimes the pointer gets lost in the jumble of bunnies our zoo has become, even with its rainbow streak across the screen. Other controls, such as displaying a radial menu with ‘ZL’ were easy to navigate and soon became our favorite way to investigate problems with our zoo. Overall, these minor issues with the game’s controls have largely been balanced out by the joy of seeing our animal kingdom expand over time.
Visually, the game looks great on the Switch. Simple pixel graphics translate well to hardware. Even on the smaller screen in handheld mode, the game is easy to navigate and see what’s going on. The only area where Let’s Build a Zoo isn’t completely flat is the music, which quickly becomes repetitive and annoying. Luckily, it can be turned off or even completely off in the game’s main menu.
Animals, whether natural or artificial, are kept in boxes that can be unlocked through the game’s research system. Different animals do best in certain enclosures, so having a variety of animals is key to expanding your zoo’s supply. You can also unlock decorations and food vendors to build, giving those who like the best park design plenty to do. In addition, it is necessary to balance pet food, recruit staff and adjust ticket prices. Always have another disc to keep spinning as you play the game. And because many of the game’s systems and features are interconnected, that means a small change can have unintended consequences.
Management sim fans will find plenty to keep them busy with Let’s Build a Zoo. Despite the occasional bout of on-screen action, the game is comfortable to play, and the hands-on approach to tutorials means you can play at your own pace – even if some of the information is available. could be made more clear. There are ways to explode in the first few hours and unlock loads of animals quickly, but it can also take your time and let events unfold naturally.
There’s a lot to love about Let’s Build a Zoo. Players can get stuck on every little detail of managing their own zoo, or they can take a more laid-back approach to building an animal empire, but the real amount of freedom is what makes this game stand out among other management games on the market. The sheer variety of animals on offer and captivating visuals make up for the monotonous music and sparse instruction. This is a solid choice for players looking for something fun to play with at a bargain price.