YMMV / Zoo Tycoon

  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Santa and a Witch appearing for Christmas and Halloween for the first game. They fly across your screen for a split second on the in-game Halloween and Christmas. If you're quick (or if you pause the game) you can open the foliage menu and buy special plants- a jack-o-lantern on Halloween and a Christmas tree on Christmas. (Waiting until December 25th in-game is the only way besides cheating to get a Christmas tree, which is the preferred foliage of the reindeer.)
  • Breather Level:
    • In the first game, Inner City Zoo and Revitalize Burkitsville Zoo are significantly less challenging than Saving the Great Cats and Endangered Species Zoo, despite all being classified as "Intermediate" difficulty. While the latter two are brutal enough to be That One Level, the former have lower goals to make to compensate for their handicaps: a skilled player could easily build six exhibits in Inner City Zoo and still have plenty of room left over, while the decrepit exhibits of Burkitsville Zoo aren't all that difficult to renovate.
    • This pattern is repeated in that game's Marine Mania expansion pack: three of the four "Intermediate" scenarios are fairly easy, with one of them being a puzzle scenario and two being fairly standard zoos with no real gimmicks. The fourth, "Free Admission", is one of the nastiest scenarios in the entire game.
  • Broken Base: The 2013 game. Some fans hate the fact it is on the Xbox as opposed to the PC, others are just happy to have a new Zoo Tycoon at all. Further broken by the fact that the new game has 101 animals on the Xbox One and a comparatively paltry 65 on the Xbox 360. Xbox One exclusives include fossa, both of the available species of mongooses, and every single antelope except for one, which is a DLC. (Notably, the game doesn't include any species of zebra, a standard zoo animal. Future DLC, most likely.)
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Regardless of how beautiful or detailed a pre-made map may be, expect one of the first actions when loading up a scenario to be bulldozing everything except for the initial path.
  • Creepy Cute: The killer penguins from Zoo Tycoon 2. They may have razor-sharp teeth, Glowing Eyes of Doom, and an appetite for anything that breathes, but they're still penguins.
  • Crowning Moment of Funny: In the tutorial for the first game, you're eventually given the objective to delete a section of the lion exhibit with the game telling you they are quite tame. After doing so and watching the lions attack the guests the game essentially tells you "Never listen to us". This leads to an epic Brick Joke for the Dino Digs expansion. After your first dinosaur hatches and you start furnishing its exhibit, the game tells you to delete a section of the fence once more, claiming the dinosaur must be happy enough not to attack guests. After the dinosaur breaks out and (possibly) starts eating guests, the game says "There you go listening to us again..."
  • Game-Breaker: Restaurants in the first game. They completely fill a guests needs, can accommodate several guests at one time, and are so popular that they'll easily turn large profits. And to top it all off, the Complete Collection version gives you two buyable restaurants right from the start of each new game.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • In the first and second games, it's possible to buy a male animal just long enough to let it breed with a fertile female, then undo the purchase action so it vanishes and you get your money back. Pregnancy, if achieved, doesn't go away when you do this. The only downside is you can't purchase any other animal or thing before he gets the female pregnant. If you do, the undo option will get rid of that animal or item instead of the father animal. This means you may have to wait quite a while before you can do anything else.
    • It's always amusing when you place a predator in a prey animal's enclosure, and the prey animal responds with a happy face above its head, indicating the prey animal's happy with your decision.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In the first game, one of the endangered species you can research is the white Bengal tiger. Nowadays, it's recognized that the vast majority of captive white tigers are the result of extensive inbreeding, and many zoos refuse to keep them or are outright banned from doing so because of animal cruelty concerns.
    • In tandem with surprisingly recent Values Dissonance, animal-based shows, particularly orca shows. In more recent years, and especially after the release of Blackfish, the public is much more skeptical about the treatment of animals that are featured in shows. SeaWorld, the subject of the aforementioned documentary, has halted its famed orca shows altogether and pledged to keep no more orcas than the ones they already own.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: Some animals are now considered less endangered than they were when the second game came out. For example, Przewalski's wild horses are currently considered "endangered" (rather than "critically endangered", as they are in the game) and giant pandas are considered "vulnerable" rather than "endangered". Some of these, like the Przewalski's wild horse, even owe their lowered endangerment status to captive specimens being reintroduced to their natural habitats, just like what you can do in the game! Of course, for some species (such as great apes), the opposite is true and they're considered more endangered than they were in-game.
  • Most Annoying Sound: *dee-doop* 'Zookeeper 1 can't reach the food dish!' *dee-doop* 'Zookeeper 1 can't reach the food dish!' *dee-doop* 'Zookeeper 1 can't reach the food dish!'
    • Whenever the player clicks on a red area (meaning that the action is not doable for various reasons) the game responds with a loud 'doing'.
      • In the second game, the 'doing' is replaced by a blaring, distorted version of the 'dee-doop' noise the game makes when it wants to notify you of something, which is much more jarring. You will miss that little 'doing'.
    • What makes this especially annoying is that whatever is 'out of reach' tends to be perfectly fine. The problem appears to be with distance, not with any real obstacles, as the game seems to treat being a certain distance from something as it being inaccessible.
    • *dee-doop* "Lion 1 can't reach the food trough! It may be too close to another object!" tends to pop up when you have food troughs shoved up against a wall. While the animals can still access one side of the trough, they sure don't realize that and assume that because one side is blocked, the rest of it is too.
    • The noise guests make when they're being attacked by an animal can become this if you encounter a glitch where they seem to teleport into an exhibit or presume that an animal that's safely contained is chasing them. It becomes twice as bad when the animal isn't doing anything but sitting in its exhibit sleeping but guests outside the fence are still panicking or if the guest is indeed in the exhibit but the animal in question is ignoring them entirely.
  • Replacement Scrappy: To fans that wanted to buy this game off Steam but couldn't, Spiritual Successor Zoo Park, which could be found on Steam, is this.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • The adoption system in Challenge Mode in Zoo Tycoon 2.
    • Breeding in the original. Animals seem to just breed at random, and they never seem to mate when you want them to.
    • In the first game, the excessive amount of time given to complete some scenarios. In some cases, it's so bad you will spend more time waiting for the time to pass than actually doing the stuff required to complete the scenario! Fortunately, you can make the game play in windowed mode so you can leave it running while you do other stuff, but it's still annoying and ridiculous. Thankfully, the devs seemed to catch on, as some of the missions in the expansions and all of them in the sequel don't have time limits.
    • In the Xbox One and Xbox 360 Zoo Tycoon reboot, the ridiculously low zoo limit that keeps you from adopting more animals, placing more buildings, or placing more items when it is reached. It's so bad, they give you huge maps, but you can't even fill up 25 percent of them!
    • In the first game, the strict exhibit requirements very often make it impossible to keep certain species together and have both be happy, even ones that are often kept together in real zoos and live in the same habitat in the wild. No flamingos with hippos for example, despite the inner box art showing them together. It also prevents you from getting too creative with your exhibits, because each species wants a certain amount of dirt, water, grass, trees, etc, and whines if you go so much as one tile more or less. Word of God confirms that the latter was the reason exhibit requirements were removed from the sequel.
    • Not being able to turn the message box off. This is most noticeable if you play the game in a manner (presumably) not intended like many players sometimes do, such as by putting 100 tigers in a far too small enclosure or trying to make your own Africa by putting tons of free-ranging animals everywhere, you can make the message box freak out. It beeps continuously with new messages (such as "Giraffe 28 is not in a enclosure", "Tiger 89 is unhappy", etc) and there is no obvious way to turn it off. If you mute the sound you can't hear the roars of all those tigers, and other nice game sounds...
    • In Zoo Tycoon 2, you can't overlap the plants very well. This sounds like it would be a minor thing, but it significantly hiders decorating the zoo for many players. A mod was made to fix this issue.
  • Unwinnable by Insanity:
    • If you spend too much of your money and don't have enough animals and/or things to sell to get some back, you can be put in a situation were you cannot buy more animals and things, and if you don't have enough animals because they all died or something, you cannot even slowly make more money because you won't get enough guests. The only solution other than restarting or loading a save file is to use a cheat code to make more money.
    • It's possible to sell all your animals, then spend all your remaining money lowering and/or raising the ground, and be forever left with nothing but a bunch of empty space that looks like its been through the biggest earthquake ever, though there is no reason whatsoever for anyone to ever want to do this.
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