Safar'Wii (Wii) - Review by Chris



Games that look to portray the excitement of a real life safari on the Wii have certainly become more common recently, with a spike in terms of new content being produced for the genre. The console and the controls seem ideally suited to the endeavours of adventurers searching out their favourite animals while at the same time learning something new about others and on these grounds the games have been relatively successful. Looking to gain a slice of the action, developer Success has teamed up with publisher Nobilis to produce Safar'Wii. But is this one capable of leading the expedition or should it remain in the jeep?


Almost immediately upon loading up the game, you're asked to choose from a male or female caricature to play as and once you've done this, you're thrown into the world of Safar'Wii. You play as a wildlife photographer who has been sent to document the wildlife on Animal Island by a large corporation. Arriving on the island, you're met by your guide, a talkative and seemingly impatient robot named Robo-maru who will take you through all of the game's basics right from the outset in a rather prolonged tutorial, teaching you each and every minute detail, right down to being able to open the map at the campsite. As the game is aimed solely at younger gamers, this kind of prolonged tutorial is fine but for anyone else, you'll just wish to get on with the game, tiring of the tutorial long before it's over.

Your objective is to photograph the wildlife of Animal Island and each day, after preparing your inventory, which can be progressively upgraded throughout the game, you'll head out into the heart of the island to do just that. Taking a seat in your jeep, Robo-maru will drive you along the dirt tracks charting a route around the island. From the jeep, you can move the camera to look around the locations, with there being item crates and tokens hidden for you to uncover and collect across each of the days. Collecting these items help in the long run as they help to increase your familiarity rating with animals, allowing you to get better photos.

At the same time, you'll have to be on the lookout for dust clouds and rustling bushes to find the locations of the island's inhabitants. You can't photograph the animals from your jeep so using these instances to highlight animal locations means you click on the location and then leave the jeep to continue your endeavours on foot. Doing so puts you into a circular area containing one or more types of animals, allowing you to get close and take photos of them for your collection. Initially, newly seen animals will have a low familiarity rating and the increasing of this rating is what will ultimately help in gaining top grade photographs of the creates. It therefore adds some longevity to the proceedings as you'll have to spend more time with the animals, taking their pictures, to increase your familiarity rating to get the pictures you want.

For the most part, you're allowed free reign over what it is you photograph and you're generally encourage to head out and see as much of the animal population as you want. At the beginning of each day, though, you'll receive a message from your company asking you to take a specific photograph. In the early days, these specific photographs are difficult objectives to meet, but luckily they are not limited to a set time allowance and carry over to consecutive days should be unable to ascertain the required image. But as the game progresses, these objectives begin to get slightly easier leaving little challenge to your endeavours. Similarly, the photography aspects take up the majority of the game but due to the slow nature of them, courtesy of continual loading interruptions for leaving and returning to your vehicle, the gameplay can begin to become tedious and unnecessarily prolonged.

The occasional mini-game is thrown in to the story to change things up a bit but they do very little to liven things up and you're quickly brought back to the photography sections. It's far from being boring but other safari titles on the console have attempted to give some variety to the gameplay in better ways than this game unfortunately has. A lack of multiplayer doesn't help the game either as it is something which perhaps could have and should have been included given the demographic aimed for here.


Like many of the other safari titles on the console, both the Wii-mote and Nunchuk are utilised for controlling the game. Yet, in comparison to those titles, Safar'Wii misses a great opportunity to make great use of the controls. From the comfort of your vehicle, you'll have to look around the environments for items or possible animal locations but instead of using the IR pointer functions of the Wii-mote, this looking is resigned to the analogue stick making a precise part of the gameplay feel sluggish and overly cumbersome. It's a strange choice seeing as the pointer itself is used to select items within the locations and so why it couldn't be tied to moving the camera to make for a smoother experience is a baffling omission. As it is, the pointer controls work well for the selecting of objects in the menus and in game yet the analogue stick controls are either cumbersome or overly sensitive depending on whether you're in the jeep or on foot.


The game manages to combine both a cartoony look with a sense of realism to make a decent looking game. Character models, specifically those of the rangers that you control and your accompanying guide Robo-maru, are well designed and while initially seeming out of place in the more realistic settings of Animal Island, they quickly begin to feel part of the surrounds. The cartoony look shows a high level of detail, both in the polygon count and in the texture department where both are perhaps of the highest standards in the game visually. Following a similar suit, the 21 or so species of animals you'll encounter while you're out snapping photos are all representative of the real animals, with the models capturing the essence that makes them realistic through smooth animations and generally high quality texture work to capture the patterns and looks of the animals perfectly.

The island itself is something you'll only see from the comfort of your vehicle but what you can see if a well designed environment with plenty of trees, bushes and other features to give the feel of a genuine safari. Occasionally, the locations will open up slightly, giving you a broader look at the surroundings, which is a nice change from the mostly claustrophobic route you'll take around the island which cases you in with cliffs and rocky outcrops on both sides. When you do step outside of your vehicle, however, the same quality of visuals isn't translated to the small on foot sections, confining you to a circular area and filling it and the surroundings with either small or large groups of animals and plenty grass, trees and rocks resulting in the quality of the visuals taking a dip. It dilutes an otherwise good visual setting for the game, something which is very occasionally hindered further thanks to slight frame rate dips but these are very rare.


Music, and sound in general, plays a relatively small part in the game's proceedings. As you are driven around Animal Island, you'll be accompanied by a looping piece of music that neither intrudes on the gameplay nor languishes in the background. It aims to create a subtle level of ambience to move you through the continual searching of the environments for dust clouds and shaking bushes and while it does just that, it fails ultimately to create any sense of suspense or general excitement within the game and at times, can begin to irritate.

Away from the small section of music, sound rarely appears elsewhere in the game save for a few instances of midi sounds for finding items or tokens or for the text speak, which constantly beeps at you as the text is spelt out across the screen. This latter use of sound is rather baffling as from the initial appearance of it in the game, it feels instantly out of place and annoying.

Final comments

Taking a slightly different route with the genre, Safar'Wii barely does just enough different to stand out from the crowd. The style of gameplay initially seems strange but once used to it, it feels natural and works well, and when you manage to get that perfect picture thanks to having spent enough time in the company of the animals, the feeling is great. But unlike other titles, Safar'Wii lacks much in the way of direction, leaving you to take on photography tasks which are either too difficult to begin with or ridiculously easy and providing little else outside of this other than the odd mini-game, creating an experience that does become tiresome quickly. It's by no means a bad game, and young children will enjoy the process, but if you are looking for a safari related title, there are better ones available.

Pro: Gameplay is unique and encourages multiple visits to get the best photos, generally good visuals
Con: Sound production is poor, little variation in the gameplay and its proceedings, some cumbersome controls, lacks any multiplayer
Final score: 5


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Boxart of Safar'Wii (Wii)
Platform: Wii
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Super X Studios
Publisher: Nobilis