Wii Review: Jambo Safari

How does the arcade game handle on the Wii?

Before I begin, let me be very clear. Jambo Safari is clearly a game for kids and not meant for the hardcore gamers like me. It’s also more or less a port of the arcade game but with added-on Wii controls. But still, how does it hold up?
Well the object of the game is to rescue wild animals with a lasso and take photos while driving around a safari park. There is a lot of ground to cover, but the gameplay remains the same in each and quickly becomes obvious that this is all the depth you will find. Oh sure, you can get upgrades and customise your character…but I doubt younger gamers will care about that much. What they will care about is learning all about all the animals you rescue.

The pattern becomes familiar soon enough and it’s only a matter of time before it becomes repetitive and dull, even for younger gamers. I can see the appeal of the game and can understand why it would be deemed as enjoyable, but I do struggle with the idea of anyone playing it for a huge period of time. The game simply doesn’t have the replay value for it.

It’s clear from the start that the game hasn’t received much of a visual upgrade over its arcade counterpart which is disappointing. It’s in desperate need of a makeover and sadly it looks quite bad, especially for those with HDTV’s. Driving runs at a steady framerate, but everything looks dated and lacks the detail needed for games of 2009. Audio is also pretty poor with some mixed voice-acting and music that is forgettable. It’s all a bit typical of a game like this; I think it might have benefited more from going on another platform than the Wii.
The trouble is that the only real motion controls come in the form of using the remote to swing the lasso towards the animals. Anything else is handled by standard controls or by just pointing and clicking, it’s not exactly a revolution or much of a step forward. Perhaps Jambo Safari should have stayed confined to the arcade machine? Maybe that would have been preferable.

It’s not all bad, but it all becomes too samey and familiar within less than an hour. It’s a good game to relax to by just simply driving around, but there’s a complete lack of realism here. I know it’s an arcade game, but when I run an animal over with a Land Rover…I expect something to happen. Ok, now I’m expecting a letter from some animal rights group for trying to run animals over…

The Verdict

Jambo Safari is yet another mixed bag for the Wii’s library of games. It began life as an arcade game and perhaps should have stayed there. The Wii port lacks charm and the technical advances to make it stand out from other games. I’m sure younger gamers will enjoy it, but for how long is up for debate.