The majesty of the African game reserves. Roam freely whilst collecting fruit, taking photos and being attacked by a particularly angry Hyena. I thought they were supposed to be fun?
Jambo! Safari, by Sega, has finally arrived on the home consoles. It was originally released in 1999 in the arcades and people everywhere held there breath in anticipation of the game coming to Sega’s awesome Dreamcast console. But this was not to be (do not worry, the people holding their breath did eventually concede, only a few passed out, nothing more serious). However, ten years later the game has finally arrived on the Nintendo Wii, with a DS version on its way, and all of those people are glad that they didn’t keep holding their breath.
The player takes control of one of four different park rangers in the making. To become a qualified park ranger, the player will have to complete a selection of tasks. These tasks are rewarded with certificates, ten of which are needed to achieve park ranger status.
The game has two difficulty settings. These are easy (for ages 3-9) and hard (for ages 10 and over). This will perhaps give an indication of the target audience. Choose from either the single player game or the party games that are available for up to four players. Then choose a character for the game, from the four that are available.
Your first port of call is the Ranch. This is the hub of the game and sits comfortably right in the centre of the park. Here you will meet Ben, the head ranger and your boss. He will help you to gain the certificates needed to become a qualified ranger. From within your trusty jeep, you can explore the Ranch area. The Park Map will show you the different areas of the park that you can explore, although there is only one available to begin with. As you unlock the new areas and visit their outposts, you will be able to quick travel to those areas direct from the map, rather than having to drive.
Also within the Ranch, you will find the Garage, where the player can change vehicles or upgrade their current ride. The vehicles include the fully licensed Land Rover Defender 90 and 110. My Place is where you can find out about your in game achievements, check out your photos and even customise your ranger wannabe with new clothes or hair styles. Finally at the Ranch, you will find the Enclosure, which is the parks medical centre. This is where the sick animals will stay until you nurse them back to health and release them in the wild. The Enclosure can hold up to three animals at a time.
It is time to head out into the wild. Driving is a fairly simple process. Use the nunchuck stick to steer whilst pressing Z to accelerate and C to brake or reverse. The vehicles handle surprisingly well and there is some fun to be had just cruising the plains and checking out the scenery. Pushing up on the stick will give you a nice little boost, whilst pressing A during a turn will result in a drift. Pull of a decent drift and you will be greeted by a familiar voice saying “Nice Drift!” (OutRun anyone?)
One thing you will find yourself doing a lot is capturing animals. This is done by getting in close to the animal and swinging the wiimote around like a lasso. Then flick the wiimote to release and hopefully snare the animal. It doesn’t stop there though. Then you have to carefully pull the animal in, without injuring it, and throw the net over it, all whilst following it in the car. This is not particularly easy when you consider that the damn animals don’t run in a straight line and rarely keep to the roads. Still, once captured, the animal can either be set free or sent to the enclosure for medical aid and some TLC.
There are plenty of collectibles to … collect within the game. From the glowing orange orbs to the fruit in the trees, and even randomly dumped crates containing new clothing and hairstyles for your ranger in training. Missions can be picked up from the various people hanging around in the wild, or from mission icons that can be found. As you progress, you will be given a camera. This allows you to partake in the photography missions, which invariably involve capturing some nice shots of a particular animal. Some of the icons will present you with a question where you have to work out which animal it is referring to and then capture it within a set time. Educational for the kiddies, nice!
One of the most spectacular parts of the game is available once you have unlocked the zoom lens for your camera. Take off in the hot air balloon and get some great pics of the wildlife. This is actually really relaxing and is sure to be a firm favorite with the players.
Graphically the game does not look bad, it is just not up to the standards that are expected with the current range of consoles. This is on the Wii however, which is not known for pushing back the graphical boundaries. It looks nice and the animations are quite good aswell. The safari based soundtrack will certainly make you feel immersed in this African adventure.
The game handles and plays well. The free roam nature will provide the opportunity for exploration and discovery and the missions are quite satisfying, although a bit repetitive. The party games will provide a slight distraction, with games such as Ostrich racing and Meerkat madness, but are not the main focus here. Given the games target younger audience, Jambo! Safari: Ranger Adventure will certainly appeal to the youngsters who want to escape from the constant cartoon, sci-fi and fantasy based games out there, whilst also appealing to those of us who remember the game in the arcade and want to get a bit nostalgic.
If you have a youngster which enjoys playing Wii and has an interest in wildlife, this game is perfect. Older kids and adults may have trouble finding enough to do in this title. However, the game is aimed at the young ‘uns and they will keep entertained for hours. Good times!