Zoo Tycoon: Marine Mania – PC – Preview

If you live too far from a Sea World, or are just too broke to go, then Marine Mania may be just the answer. Players can design the ultimate aquatic park, and even
choreograph shows!

Marine Mania, which includes the prior add-on Dinosaur Digs, is the second expansion pack for Zoo Tycoon. As in Dinosaur Digs, this enhancement adds over twenty new animals, several new buildings and ten scenarios, plus a few interface improvements. The new marine animals include orcas, dolphins, giant squid, seals, sea otters, sea turtles, great white sharks, and many others. Some of the animals are “show” animals, such as one type of dolphin, the orcas and the sea otters, to name a few. Special show tanks can be built for these animals to perform in, and their tricks can be choreographed. Some of the tricks require specialized toys or platforms, which have to be purchased.

Marine specialists have to be hired to take care of the marine animals, and can be assigned manually to certain exhibits, which is one of the interface improvements. This way, players don’t have to worry if certain exhibits are being taken care of. Other improvements over the original game (which are included in the Dinosaur Digs add-on) are the sorting and hiding filters for the workers, foliage and buildings, the management financial sorting tools, and a free-form play mode.

Although there is more content this time around, with ten new scenarios added instead of the paltry six in the last add-on, the real meat of the package lies in the shows. Having the ability to design marine shows, with the tricks listed in certain orders, is a hoot! Watching the Orcas do their tricks is so much fun, they’ll squirt water at the people, wave, toss balls around, do jumps with platforms, as many things as you want them to do. But be careful and don’t tire them out, or they’ll be unhappy. Another fun aspect is the ability to let people ride with the dolphins, that’s really entertaining to watch.

While Dinosaur Digs was enjoyable, Marine Mania truly takes Zoo Tycoon to a new level of playability, which is what a good expansion game should do. My daughter and I are having a blast! This alpha edition seems pretty much ready for release, and I only encountered one slight problem in the game, with my marine specialist refusing to feed my sea otters for some reason. They were starving, but she would never give them food, although she would feed other tanks. In the end, I sold all the otters, and replaced them with sea turtles, which she promptly fed.

Zoo Tycoon fans will have something to look forward to in October!