|System: Wii, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Super X Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Majesco||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 22, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-3||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
If you're the kind of family that can easily spent hours in front of the tube watching strange nature shows on the National Geographic or Discovery Channel - where wild animals are either mating, eating one another other or roaming around aimlessly to an extremely over-enthusiastic narrator prattling along about said activities - then delving into Wild Earth: African Safari on the Wii will be a familiar, if somewhat toned-down, experience.
Originally released on PC in late 2006, Wild Earth: African Safari has been dusted off the shelf by Majesco and given a few updates in the transition to the Wii. It was a wise choice considering the system's popularity among families and younger gamers. The game is an overall good fit for Nintendo's console and general audience. It's a family-oriented title geared toward players of all ages (at least in most respects) that seamlessly mixes nature education and photo safari gameplay in such a way that they'll be having fun without realizing they're learning something new in the process.
Though there are goals to meet and objectives to attain, playing Wild Earth is less like playing a game per se and more like being immersed in a simulation. Armed with a high-powered camera, some courage, and two wacky narrators, players will venture out into the untamed plains of Africa to observe wildlife and score top-notch photographs of a wide range of exotic animals across 11 different excursions. You'll be hoofing it on foot, riding in a helicopter, and bumping along the dusty roads in a run-down jeep to meet your quota and fill your magazine spreads with glossy gems.
The controls take some getting accustomed to. Movement is handled with the Nunchuk, while turning and camera controls are executed by pointing the Wii Remote. The camera can be zoomed in or out easily, and snapping a picture is done with a quick button press. Unlockable mini-games offer short distractions for younger players. The problem with these short diversions is that in most cases the controls are practically broken. A co-op multiplayer mode lets you work together with a friend on your photo assignments, but the main fun is through the solo missions themselves.
In each mission, you'll be given an assignment list of different pictures to take in order to succeed. Primary picture objectives must be completed to progress, while secondary picture goals can be snapped to increase your numbers in order to meet the quota for the assignment; three-quarters of all of your shots must be made successfully or you'll be forced to re-play the mission. Every time you take a picture it will pop up on the upper right portion of the screen for a few seconds, so you can instantly see how it came out. A limited number of shots from each mission can be saved to view later as a slideshow. Also at the end of each mission you can view an informative article about the different creatures you encountered, which features the images you took in the wild. It's a cool addition.