Rafael A. Sarmiento
18 min readJun 30, 2022
Video gamer? I hardly know her!

I will be discussing a nostalgic game of my childhood, Zoo Tycoon, developed by the small gaming company, Blue Fang Games. This time around, I will be discussing more in length my personal experience and the gameplay. I will essentially be going back to it and reviewing the good and bad elements and stray further from history, as there is little to no information pertaining to Blue Fang Games and its staff. In my return to nostalgia, I have found that the game is still just as extraordinarily addicting as it was when I was young(er), and even manages to be fun when using cheats (which I discovered online). In short, the first, original Zoo Tycoon game was likely so great because of its soothing rhythmic nature, freeform and scenario options, and overall simple gameplay.

Real Gs remember this screen.

To succinctly describe what Zoo Tycoon is, it is essentially just a sort of business simulator. Perhaps that brief overview does not do it complete justice, as there is more to it than that, and it does not serve as a Farmville-esque monstrosity of Freemium gaming and monotonous empty play. Zoo Tycoon is a game that asks its players to build a successful virtual zoo by keeping track of several factors, such as guest happiness, animal happiness, exhibit diversity, and of course, income. It also awards medals with cash or prizes as incentives for certain objectives to be completed (House one of each Arctic animal! Breed a Panda!) and steadily unlocks items, décor, research, animals, and other things over time as the player builds their zoo from the ground up. From that start of humble Moose exhibits, a grand African Elephant exhibit with Zebras and Antelopes included may flourish (animals are capitalized merely so they stand out as animals and not random words to break the flow of a sentence).

I first received Zoo Tycoon as a gift from my father around 2003, specifically the “Complete Collection” version of the game. The original game came with a decent selection of different animals from around the world, and a few scenarios with challenges and time trials to go along with them, and “freeform” mode, allowing a player to build their own zoo and try to keep it afloat. However, several expansions followed, from 2001 (the…

Rafael A. Sarmiento

I hold a BA in film and in history from UNM and MA in iMAES from USC. I’m not a pessimist, I’m correct. Follow me for troglodyte slaying 101.