Look at the pretty animals!
Once more, it seems, I am given the opportunity to head out on safari and take pictures of the wildlife. I have been here before, but this time around I am promised a more pure experience, the chance to enjoy the animals in their surroundings without the temptation to take off at high speed and attempt to pull a hand brake turn in my Jeep.
Safar’Wii, by Nobilis, gives the player the role of wildlife photographer and challenges them to take good quality pictures of a good variety of different animals. The game begins by choosing between a male and female character that look like they belong in a JRPG. You are then introduced to your guide and driver for the duration of the game, a bizarre looking robot that is reminiscent of the robots found is Smash adverts from the ’70s and ’80s in the UK. So far, not the realistic experience that I was hoping for.
After a quick tutorial, the player is given their first task by “headquarters” and they set out to capture some great pictures. With the robot driving the Jeep, the game is similar to begin with, to Pokemon Snap. Following a fixed route, the player looks around and tries to spot signs of wildlife. This can be little things, such as clouds of dust in the distance, or the rustling of branches in a tree. Once something has been found, the game changes from the Snap formula and the player gets out of the vehicle.
It is then up to the player to sneak as close to the animals as possible, without scaring them off. The more often an animal is encountered, the more relaxed that animal will become. But to begin with, they will run off is approached too quickly. The player gets as close as they dare and then whip out the camera and start taking pictures. Once done, the player returns to the Jeep and commences on their trek around the area.
The camera has a fixed capacity of photos that can be taken, so choose carefully. This capacity can be increased later in the game with upgrades, or extra film can be found. These extras can be found throughout the park, along with a host of otherÂ useful items and coins, in boxes that have been left by previous rangers, or hidden in places like termite mounds or trees. Spotting these whilst driving along and also keeping an eye out for possible animal signs, can be tricky.
Return to camp and choose the photos that you want to keep in your album. Also choose the best three to send off to HQ and impress your boss with. These three will be given a rating depending on the detail and quality of the picture.
Safar’Wii looks pretty good on the Wii. Whilst not the most detailed graphics, the surroundings are pleasant and give the player plenty to look at. There are different environments to explore aswell, so the player will not get bored of the same grasslands over and over. The animals, in contrast to the playable characters and the robot assistant, have been realistically recreated on screen. Although not in the highest detail, they all look good and react in quite a convincing way.
It is not all safari fun though. Trying to get a decent photo can be a bit frustrating at times. You line up a shot and get told that you should try and moveÂ a bit closer. Take a couple of steps and then you are told that, if you are not careful, the animals will become spooked and run off. Also, whilst calm and relaxing, the game pace does tend to crawl. This is not necessarily a bad thing, butÂ it does limit the appeal to fans of this kind of calm and peaceful game.
Although slow, that is not to say that the game is not challenging. Trying to find particular animals doing certain things can drive you up the wall, especially if you get too excited upon finding them and scare them away. Players who enjoy the initial experience will find themselves returning to the game regularly, just to see if they can find something new. In this respect, the game does very well, offering increasing numbers of different animals and challenges. There are even some mini games thrown in to relieve the monotony, although these are largely just time wasters and have very little bearing on the main game.
Safar’Wii offers a peaceful gaming experience in enjoyable surroundings. Whilst certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, the game will appeal to the more relaxed gamers, and to young children who can easily get to grips with the controls and will love all of the different animals.