|Publisher: Pocketwatch Games Genre: Simulation|
|Min OS X: 10.2.8 CPU: G4 @ 400 MHz Hard Disk: 42 MB Graphics: 32 MB VRAM|
|Wildlife Tycoon: Venture Africa|
August 29, 2006 | David Peck
The African plains is one of the most exotic locations on earth where large herds of animals have roamed since primordial times. For Mac gamers attracted to virtual world-building what better location to tinker? Wildlife Tycoon Venture Africa advertises itself as a fast paced simulation game, the ultimate sandbox, where the challenge is to create a unique ecosystem by introducing plants, water, and animals into the environment, building populations, and finding a natural balance.
Since the early days of computer gaming, Simulation Games have had a strong following. Covering a spectrum of sub-categories they can run as pure simulations like Sim City, they can impose specific economic goals like Railroad Tycoon, or as in Sim Earth can give God-like powers allowing the player to rain down the good times or create havoc upon the environment and game inhabitants.
The GameIn contrast to a game like Sim Earth, Wildlife Tycoon is more of a casual simulation where the player manages the environment by introducing water, 3 types of plants, and 11 animals into the environment. While the premise is that animals are bred and released there are some god game-like elements such as rain that can be produced all most at will, and plants that can be moved into the environment without worrying about their ability to survive.
Starting with an all most blank landscape, the in-game tutorial presents game play elements demonstrating the balance between predator, prey, plants, and water. Wildlife Tycoon can be played in Story Book or Sandbox modes.
Story Book Mode leads the player through a series of scenarios with the specific goal of producing the desired number of target animals. The idea being that pairs of animals are introduced and based on available resources and local predators, they will breed and expand their numbers. If a scenario calls for creating 10 lions, the player must create a basic food chain of plants for prey and prey for the predators.
As far as simulations go, options are limited. Flower icons generate at the bottom of the game window determining a rate at which animals can be released. These flowers pop up on a regular basis. A randomizer in the game is the jewel concept where a target animal is specified. When a certain number of "jewel" animals are created, a jewel is rewarded. Jewels are vitally important as they enable the player to create watering holes and plants. The challenge of satisfying a scenario depends heavily on jewels and the ability to create water and vegetation at strategic locations along with releasing animals in the proper ratios- There lies the challenge.
Sandbox mode can be the most enjoyable game play in Wildlife Tycoon as it offers the most freedom and comes closest to resembling more in-depth simulations. Throw animals and plants into the environmental pie, then shake and bake for the best results.