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Joseph Rositano
03 Jan, 2010

Jambo Safari Ranger Adventure Review

Wii Review | A safari gone wrong.
Jambo! Safari: Ranger Adventure is based on the arcade game Jambo! Safari that was released in 1999. The arcade cabinet featured a steering wheel, a foot peddle and a gearshift, and was set in an African safari where players had to capture different animals. The Wii version has similar gameplay but expands on the original concept by including a story, missions, mini-games, customisation options and collectible items. Sadly, the end result is an unchallenging, unimaginative and a lacklustre experience.

The game begins by letting players select one of four rangers to control, and then explains you’re a Trainee Ranger and have to obtain your full license by collecting badges and certificates. These are awarded by completing various tasks such as rescue 10 different animals or successfully obtaining an A-grade rank when playing a mini-game. The plot doesn’t really go anywhere else, so you’ll spend most of your time just exploring the safari park.

You’ll spend most of your time driving around the Savannah in a jeep, locating potential missions that are highlighted by icons. An example are photo missions which are highlighted by giant floating cameras. In these particular missions your aim is to take a picture of a nearby animal performing an action, such as an ostrich running across the plains. Other missions include time trail races, helping people in need by collecting items or transporting them to a certain location, and sightseeing tours which are self explanatory. The missions are never terribly exciting to begin with, so you can imagine they become mundane very quickly.

If only there was some sort of "Shoot the Poachers" mode.

If only there was some sort of "Shoot the Poachers" mode.
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Of course, Jambo Safari’s biggest draw card is its emphasis on capturing animals. Using the Wii remote as a lasso, players have to chase down animals in their jeep and reel them in. After getting the rope around the animal’s neck your viewpoint will switch to first person. The idea here is to keep the creature in the centre of the screen and wait for the crosshair to change from red to white before flicking the Wii remote to capture it. You can gain more control over the animal by reeling the rope in, but like the original arcade game you have to be wary it can snap if you tug too tightly (though it’s now made simpler by the display of a meter). After capturing the critter you’ll unlock information cards about its species, can give it a name and even choose to send it to the Animal Enclosure. While it is interesting reading all the facts about the different species you encounter, as a whole the capturing process feels limited and uninspiring. It’s not that the mechanics don’t work; it’s just that there’s no challenge involved – the rope seems to magically go through trees and bushes, the animal can run all over the place indefinitely, and lassoing/capturing is left to a single flick of the Wii remote. Occasionally the animal will be a little more difficult to capture and will actually ram your vehicle, but it does little if anything to add to the experience.

Paying homage to the original game is Arcade mode. This automatically activates when you capture an animal and causes a timer to appear. The timer counts down and your aim is to capture all the animals that are present in the area you’re exploring. This can actually be quite difficult, though for both good and bad reasons. On one hand the only way you can extend the timer is by capturing a new animal, so there’s the challenge of finding and capturing a different specie within a short period. On the downside though, there just aren’t enough distinguishable environments to separate one side of the Savannah from the other so it’s easy to drive in circles and lose your bearings. Another annoying element is that from a distance all animals look almost like dots. For instance, you could be looking out from a hill and spot what you think is a ostrich, but on closer inspection you discover it’s actually a lion. This sort of thing can kill Arcade mode if you’re trying to relive memories playing the original, and when combined with the uninspiring capture mechanics you’re left with a pretty shallow and tedious gameplay overall.

Nope, doesn't get any more exciting than this.

Nope, doesn't get any more exciting than this.
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As mentioned you can send animals to an enclosure after capturing them. This is generally reserved for animals that are sick or injured, as you’re limited to keeping three animals at any one moment. Treatments occur in the form of mini-games, with some being more engaging than others. An example of the more appealing mini-games is one where you’re required to remove the bugs off a subject and ensuring they don’t crawl out of the jar you place them in. One of the worse games revolves around pumping water to quench a thirty lion. It’s definitely hit and miss, and the three animal limit means you’ll be doing a lot of unnecessary backtracking.

For each task you accomplish, whether it’s treating an animal or completing a mission, you’re awarded with Ranger Points. These act as the game’s currency and can be used to unlock a variety of customisation options including clothing and hair styles for your character, and even paint jobs for your jeep. There are also collectible items scattered across the Savannah ranging from African masks and apples, to butterflies and amber. Aside from a few extra Ranger Points they don’t offer any other rewards, so their inclusion feels more like a cheap way to expand the gameplay more than anything.

Jambo Safari also features co-op and party modes. In the co-op mode the second player more or less takes on the role of capturing the animals while the other drives the jeep. Meanwhile, the party mode is by far the worst feature in the game. Playing with up to three other people, you can challenge each other in various mini-games. Examples include Ostrich-Racing where you race ostriches and avoid obstacles, Jam Ball which is just like normal soccer only with jeeps replacing human players, Stone Skipping which is as it sounds, and Meerkat Mayhem where you have to guide meerkats to collect fruit and bring it back home. What makes this mode terrible is just how unresponsive and lacklustre the games are. In Ostrich-Racing, supposedly you make your ostrich run by pushing the Wii remote back and forth like you’re riding a horse. However, the game seems to recognise your movements as the jumping mechanism, so the result is a giant bird hopping and bobbing down a race course. Another example of poor design is Jam Ball. There’s a single goal and a giant soccer ball that you need to ram into. It’s just so simplistic and unimaginative you have to wonder what the development team was smoking when they thought of it.

Is it true that an elephant NEVER forgets?

Is it true that an elephant NEVER forgets?
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While the environments are huge the game is anything but impressive in the visual department. The world looks barren and is almost completely indistinguishable, the animal models look like something from a PSone game and there just isn’t any flair to speak of. There are some nice animal sound effects that make you feel like you’re in an actual safari park, but the music features generic African drum beats that get repetitive far too quickly.

Despite having similar gameplay as the arcade original, Jambo! Safari: Ranger Adventure fails to capture the same appeal. The title is simple not challenging enough and feels mundane, while the environments are indistinguishable and easily forgettable. Unless you’re looking at getting this for your child, then you need not apply.
The Score
A forgettable safari experience due to its dull and unchallenging gameplay. Unless you’re looking at getting this for your child then there’s nothing that will hold your interest for long.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 Comments
4 years ago
Why is there so much shovelware amongst the good stuff? Nintendo really needs to step it up. Games that truly shine are becoming few and far between and it's almost becoming a repeat of the Gamecube era.
4 years ago
Jambo Safari is published by Sega, so you can't really blame Nintendo completely for this one.
4 years ago
the release of Bayonetta this week will make up for this mess..

please Sega, youre on the right track! just stay on it!!
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  15/11/2009 (Tentative)
Standard Retail Price:
  $79.95 AU
Publisher:
  SEGA Australia
Genre:
  Adventure
Year Made:
  2009
Players:
  1

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