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Wild Earth African Safari
SCREENSHOTS

Wild Earth African Safari

6/27/2008

30.00

The Bottom Line
A fascinating nature simulation that takes you on safari in the African Serengeti.
In Wild Earth African Safari, you become a photographer on assignment for Wild Earth magazine and work through 11 assignments. In each, your task is to find and take between 20 to 40 photos of specific African animals doing specific things. Onscreen you will see your primary objective, like finding a baby elephant or a leopard asleep in a tree, but you can also photograph optional secondary objectives. To complete an assignment, you will need to fulfill about 75 percent of the primary and secondary objectives.
The game puts you in charge of your exploration around the Serengeti. Using the Wii remote and the Wii Nunchuk, it's easy to point and then use the control stick to move. You can travel at a pretty good clip, as if you were sitting in a jeep. One assignment even puts you inside a helicopter flying over the Ngorongoro Crater to film animals in migration.

If you wander too far from where you can find your primary objective, a special direction finder will appear on the screen to help put you back on track. A small complaint for some testers was that you can spend a lot of time wandering. However, if you have ever been on an actual safari, wandering without seeing wildlife is part of the process.

Taking pictures is as simple as pressing the "A" button, and you even have a zoom lens so that you don't have to get too close. In fact, it is a good idea to take a wide berth around these creatures, because part of the game's mechanic is to measure your environmental impact. If you disturb the wildlife too much, as indicated on a bar meter located in the top right of your screen, you will fail your assignment.

As a photojournalist, you will take photos of more than 30 African animals including giraffes, elephants, hippos, rhinos, cheetahs, hyenas, crowned cranes, lions, meerkats, wildebeests, zebras and warthogs. Sometimes your objective might be to photograph an unfamiliar animal behavior. You will discover that "giraffes necking" isn't a courting ritual, but rather a contest in which two giraffe test their fighting abilities as they bang their heads and necks together in an attempt to poke each other with their short horns. Since you have unlimited ability to take photos, you should become a shutterbug, because you are shown each photo with a caption of what the animal is doing. Also, you have a guide with you, who will frequently explain what you are seeing.

The photo assignments are sequential, so you must complete one to unlock the next one. However, you can come back and replay any that are unlocked. Also, all assignments can be played cooperatively with up to four other players, so a family can go on safari together.

At the end of each assignment, you can see your photos displayed as part of an educational article. Your successful completion of an assignment also unlocks an arcade game featuring the primary animal that you just studied. In one, you become an elephant and suck up water to spray other animals. Unfortunately, some of these minigames suffered from poor controls.

This Wii game continues the excellent educational simulation trend started by Endless Ocean, an underwater sim, by offering players the ability to observing animals in their natural habitat in the Serengeti National Park. It's as if you are playing inside a nature show about Africa. As you play, you will experience different times of the day, weather changes, and a wide variety of landscapes. All of this is accompanied by an excellent soundtrack of ambient sounds and rhythmic music from Talking Drums Records.

Wild Earth African Safari is a good fit for families looking for educational video games. However, since this is a game about nature, you will see some animals kill others for food, including a wildebeest that falls prey to three alligators. If you don't have a Wii, Majesco produces a similar game for the PC called Wild Earth.

All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.

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Wild Earth African Safari
Company: Majesco
Price: 30.00