Ahh the tranquillity of the landscape that lies beneath the waves. Is there anything more appealing than strapping an air tank to your back, grabbing your camera and then bothering some fish by sticking it in their face? Why of course there isn’t, and in this family friendly title you’ll do just that.
Sea Life Safari started out as a PC game, and seems to be really popular on the other side of the Atlantic. Wild Tangent / Sierra must’ve seen a gap in the market on XBLA for this, and so here we are.
The game, if you can really describe it as a game, tasks you with working for an old rummy of a sea dog, a cross between Steve Zissou and Jaques Cousteau. He’s into his marine life, and you’re the person for the job when it comes to bringing back engaging pictures of as many different undersea species as possible.
It’s hard to actually describe Sea Life Safari as a game. It’s more a relaxing chill-out session, based around the rather loose photography dynamics of this on-rails title. With each dive location you’re sent down, often with a set of objectives and particular requests from the haggard looking piscine professor of marine life he’d like you to try and capture.
The skill part comes in getting the best shots possible. Just like in real photography, framing your subject nicely and capturing more than just a dorsal fin as a fish sweeps past your lens can be reasonably challenging, but once you learn each particular fish or crustacean’s patterns of movement it gets easier – but obviously the title’s a whole lot of fun for younger players. Any kids who got a buzz out of Finding Nemo are going to love this title to bits as the various species are represented by colourful cartoonish graphics.
As your photo session plays out, you’re given 24 shots to get as many pleasing snaps as possible. You don’t control your movement as such, you just control the camera, the zoom functions and the exposure though you can also throw things at the various fish to illicit a pleasing response that would make a great picture. Someone call the RSPCA, this sort of thing should not be encouraged, surely?
Sea Life Safari’s appeal trades on your enthusiasm for seeing each of the various underwater levels, and capturing good snaps of each new species as you encounter them. You can archive off your best shots for later viewing, and if you get a particularly good pic, the professor will add it to his own collection but beyond that, there’s very little depth to this. Graphically it’s pleasing enough with a nice sense of immersion in the floaty blue world beneath the waves, and younger players will delight in seeing all of the different little details that can be found in the various locales you’re sent to dive on, and finding the various secrets hidden within the game. There’s even a touch of educational value here because the species found within the game are actual real-world creatures, and although they’re caricatured they’re still close enough to the real thing to teach your nippers a thing or two about marine life before you drag them down to the local aquarium to check out the real thing.
Sea Life Safari even kept my 19-week old daughter quiet for a while, turning out the lights and just letting her watch the various fish and other undersea denizens going about their business. So Sea Life Safari is successful as a bit of casual family fun.
Not a game, more a visual toy to keep your wee ones amused but without returning to the same tired old grumble about Xbox Live Arcade titles, 800 points is too high a price for the Xbox equivalent of an interactive screensaver.