Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Safar’Wii

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            In recent years, Nintendo’s Wii has been increasingly used for educational purposes and has spurred more and more demand for good videogames developed specifically for young children. This shift, coupled with the fact that nearly 100 million Wii’s have been sold since its launch in December 2006 providing many children with access to the family-orientated console, means that there is more than enough demand for games such as Safar’Wii, developed by Success. The appeal of such games is their interactivity. Safar’Wii is not a puzzle game but rather acts as a subtle guide and educational source that is designed to teach and enthuse young children about wildlife that they would not otherwise have access to, via their own exploration. Safar’Wii’s tagline suggests that the game contains ‘wild animals even more real than life itself’. Such hyperbole begs the question; can such a videogame replicate and, as suggested, even supersede the real deal in educating the younger generation about their planet?

            In Safar’Wii the player assumes the role of an animal photographer visiting animal island with the purpose of sending back photographers of the wildlife to your superior. Players can chose from just two characters, either a female or a male. Once you have named the character, the player is Electronic Theatre Imagemet on Animal Island by Robo-maru, a robot who will guide and transport you around Animal Island. Robo-maru gives a short tutorial in which your task and the controls are explained. The tutorial is clear and easily understandable and the player is given plenty of time to practise the controls. Players are shown around some of the island in the safari vehicle and how to recognise where animals may be, as well as how to get out of the vehicle and take photos of the animals. Players are then shown how to save their photos to an album back at camp and how to send the best of them to headquarters for evaluation. Following the tutorial you are then free to explore the island and search for animals. Much like the Nintendo 64’s Pokemon Snap – perhaps the closet thing to a competitor Safar’Wii has – the vehicle will follow a set trail but you can choose to stop or not whenever something of interest appears giving the player a small element of independence.

            Safar’Wii requires more from the player than just spotting wildlife, but rather teaches techniques required to track wildlife and about wildlife instincts and behaviour. The presence of an animal is signalled by a change in Electronic Theatre Imagethe environment, a cloud of dust or a rustle of leaves. You are taught to approach animals slowly so as to not frighten them and animals will not wait around to be photographed, often moving off naturally if you take too long. When you manage to track down animals, players can increase their familiarity level by pressing the – button on the Wii Remote. As an animal’s familiarity level increases on each sighting that species will be less and less likely to run away from you and will accept your presence more and more. Your superior at head quarters encourages you to take photos as up close as possible and sends daily task such as capturing a giraffe whilst it is eating. Taking a photo requires both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk: pressing B on the Nunchuk changes the view to camera mode, whilst moving the control stick changes the angle of the photo. The photo is taken by pressing A on the Wii Remote. 

            The scenery is basic but is a good visual representation with no difficulty in differentiating open plain from jungle. The animals are well drawn and authentically animated. Electronic pop music plays intermittently and is upbeat and set appropriately at the right age limit. Safar’Wii is appropriately balanced overall and will appeal to younger children without patronising, as the game clearly aims to educate its audience; as shown by the advice on how to track animals as well as the fact that each animal is found in its natural habitat such as giraffes in the open plains. As to the assertion Electronic Theatre Imagemade in the tagline that the game contains ‘wild animals even more real than life itself’, it is possible to see the reasons behind this seemingly absurd claim. As most children’s experience of safari animals will be either non-existence or equate to a visit to a zoo very few will have had the opportunity to observe wild animals in their natural habitat. Safar’Wii shows animals moving and interacting as they would in the wild rather than in captivity. In this respect, the animals are perhaps the most realistic representation many children are likely experience. Rather unrealistic is the way in which, with an animal’s increasing familiarity level, players are able to ultimately touch the wild animals. This contact both makes the animals ‘more real than life itself’, as well as making them so unrealistic that the educational element of the game is slightly lost.      

            Safar’Wii is a fun, entertaining way for young children to supplement their understanding of wildlife and goes some way to educate about animal behaviour and their natural habitat. With over twenty animals to discover the game offers multiple hours of interactivity and discerning children are sure to enjoy collecting photographs and creating their own albums.

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