Jambo! Safari

Jeep and jeerful.

  • "jambo safari. one of the greatest games ever programmed. driving and roping ferocious animals. petting them kindly. rinse and repeat. hell yes. who else is on board. who else cannot wait to rope the animals. no more driving to ocean city new jersey to play this very neat very cool game. yes." -
  • - Forum post by "drumbeater" on GameFaqs.com.

Oh, drumbeater. I was on board. I could not wait to rope the animals. I have never visited Ocean City, New Jersey, but I would have if I'd known there's a Jambo! Safari arcade cabinet there. I even started a petition to bring the series back and when SEGA announced a console game was in development I, like you, rejoiced.

Now it's here, and the good news is Jambo! Safari for Wii is still about driving and roping ferocious animals. The bad news is there's more of an emphasis on petting them kindly. Plus there's a whole new range of dull, worthy missions to complete, based around tedious things like environmental responsibility and taking photographs of ostriches.

At least the visual style is the same. Once again you get to drive a jeep with poor handling around a badly rendered reimagining of the African savannah, complete with blurry textures, boulders which pop up from nowhere and trees you can drive straight through. The plains are populated by big game such as lions, cheetahs, zebras and gazelles, all of whom are so shoddily animated they appear to have rickets.

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It seems unlikely this selection of characters accurately represents the true racial demographic of Africa.

The game informs you that these animals are in need of "rescuing", though it's never clear from what. In the world of Jambo! Safari the best way to capture a wild animal isn't by using a tranquiliser gun but by chasing them across the savannah in your jeep, lassooing them as if you're a cowboy and hauling them in like huge, four-legged furry fish.

The arcade cabinet had a steering wheel, gearstick and foot pedal with which you did all this. In the Wii version you steer with the nunchuk, use the remote to lob your lasso and press B to pull on the rope. The overall experience isn't as satisfying but it's not a bad alternative to having a huge, zebra-striped arcade cabinet in your lounge.

The problem is that catching animals is nowhere near as exciting as it used to be. This is partly because the dynamic of being down to your last 50 pence piece, having already shoved 18.50 into the machine that day alone, is missing - which is no one's fault. It's also because you no longer get to see the actual net or cage being thrown over the animal. Now there's just a nice, inoffensive animation involving nothing more than a magical sparkly rope. But it's mainly because the gameplay has been changed and the difficulty level lowered.

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