[Click here to watch the Wild Earth: African Safari Trailer]
Title: Wild Earth: African Safari
Genre: Educational Adventure Simulation
Rating: E (for Everyone)
In this game, you play as a photographer whose mission it is to take pictures of specific animals displaying specific behaviors in specific areas, and it is your job to find these shots in the environment you are told to search in. Usually you travel during the day by foot, but sometimes you take shots during the night or in vehicles, such as a car or helicopter. The animals and scenarios you need to take pictures of are scattered throughout each level, and can be missed or overlooked if you don’t search the right areas or capture the events in time.
This is a pretty straightforward, first-person “shooter” (which does not mean you are shooting anything – this is a video game term for games that you play through the eyes of your character). It is educational and entertaining, which is always a good combination. Animal lovers are sure to enjoy it. You simply take pictures while you are taught (through narration) about African animals, their behavior, their environment, and so forth, while having fun getting pictures of whatever you like. One interesting feature, however, is that animals behave like animals should. So if you get too close to a pride of lions or an agitated elephant, they will attack you. The game also includes some limited forms of multiplayer, such as cooperative multiplayer, where one person drives a jeep on safari and the other three take pictures from the jeep. There are also quite a few lighthearted mini-games.
Skills Required and Recommended:
- Basic understanding of a Wiimote – REQUIRED
- Ability to use somewhat complex controls – REQUIRED
- Ability to read – REQUIRED
- Problem-solving skills – RECOMMENDED
The game isn’t exactly simple, especially with the nunchuck functioning as your legs and the Wiimote functioning as your camera, but it’s not exactly difficult either. Once you understand how to use the camera, all you have to do is find your way around the level, and all the following levels tend to work the same way. Being able to read the tasks your partners ask of you and find your way around the environment are important.
Level of Violence:
This game is for kids, so it isn’t really violent, but kids will see animals behaving as animals do – hunting, eating prey, and attacking you if you come too close to them or their offspring. This might be scary to sensitive children, but isn’t graphic or otherwise intimidating. It’s simply a nuisance that is pretty easy to avoid, as you are given a warning when an animal is agitated by your presence.
Use of Bad Language:
There is no bad language in this game.
Presence of a Story:
There is a small story-line the game follows, in which you tag along with a pair of researchers that travel to different safaris in search of different animals to write articles about. You play as their designated photographer. Otherwise there is very little plot or characterization, which is normal for a simulation game like this.
Presence of a Message:
Since the focus of this game is getting photos of wildlife, the only big message this game promotes is respect and appreciation of wild animals in their natural habitats and capturing their actions through photography.
This isn’t a big adventure story, and it’s relatively short for a video game, but it still has good entertainment quality. It’s fun taking pictures, setting up different zooms and angles to get a good shot of what you are required to get shots of and anything else you want to photograph on the way. There are also mini-games that younger children will appreciate, especially since you play as lots of favorite animals in them.
Age Range Recommendation:
As long as your child can read (or you plan on being there to read for them), they’ll be fine playing this game. Even if your child can’t read, the game is still technically playable, though they might not succeed because they are unable to read what shots their partners expect them to take. What’s nice is that older children and teens tend to find it just as fun as a younger kid would, maybe even more than a younger kid would. If your child likes taking pictures, then this game will be fun for them.
I’ve seen used versions of these games sold for around $5, especially on sites like Amazon, but it can also be up to $10-$15 brand new, and in some cases, $20. It isn’t too hard to find this game cheap, though, especially if you buy a used version online.