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Jambo! Safari: Ranger Adventure Review

Sega must be the third-party company that’s supported the Wii the most. They’re really making the console their own. You might as well slap ‘Dreamcast 2’ on it. Let’s be fair, it sounds better than ‘Wii’ doesn’t it? In fact, Jambo! Safari feels like a lost Dreamcast game that has finally been released.

The premise is simple; you are a trainee Safari park ranger whose job it is to lasso injured animals and care for them, keep the park clean and assist other rangers with other tasks.

The main gameplay feature is the combination of driving and lassoing animals. Driving your vehicle is all done with the nunchuk; use the stick to steer, the Z trigger to accelerate and the C button to brake. Holding the C button enables the vehicle to reverse but it takes quite a while to kick in. This destroys the pace somewhat as the rest of the vehicle controls are really responsive and easy to master.

The lasso is controlled with the Wiimote. Hold it upright and spin it to simulate the rotation of the lasso. Then all you have to do is drive behind the animal you intend to catch. This will allow you to ‘lock-on’ to the animal. Now you have to swing the remote forward to simulate the throwing of your net. Keep your target in the white and out of the red and you’ll catch the animal. It’s a fairly simple technique that is simple to pick up and fun to perform.

However, it does have its’ fair share of issues. The lasso does have a habit of rotating whenever it wants. If you’re trying to lock-on to a particular animal and you drive through a herd of other animals, your target tends to swap between other animals which is fairly frustrating.

Either way, the lassoing feature is generally fun to do. This is handy because most of the game relies on it. Most missions require you to catch certain animals, catch a certain amount of unique animals, catch pairs of animals and on and on and on. Jambo’s gameplay is very repetitive and because its’ main gameplay feature isn’t perfect, it soon gets tiresome doing the same thing again and again.

The game’s open world scenario is particularly well realised and fun to explore thanks to the decent driving controls. There’s plenty of secrets to find and bonus missions to do such as photographing specific animals and collecting a variety of certificates, trophies and badges. Unfortunately, it looks very last-gen and scenery popping-up is very prevalent. The frame-rate is also very unstable in larger areas. Sega really need to look into sorting this out because it’s becoming a bit of a habit with their Wii releases.

Almost everything you do earns you Ranger Points which can be spent on clothing for your character as well as paintwork, decals and accessories for your vehicle. The amount of customisation is fantastic and is one of the game’s real strengths.

There are a total of 4 vehicles to unlock. Each is unique and they all control differently. It is encouraged that you test each vehicle as certain vehicles are better for certain environments. For instance, the Bombardier has the ability to drive on water making exploration in the wetlands a lot easier.

Speaking of the wetlands, the water is a constant frustration in Jambo! Safari. Its’ colouration makes it difficult to tell how shallow or deep it is and the only real way of telling is to take a leap of faith. However, this becomes very frustrating when your vehicle sinks into the depths for the umpteenth time.

The other main gameplay feature is catching animals who are sick. Once this is done you can send the animal to your enclosure where you can partake in a number of mini-games to get to the source of the animals pain and nurse it back to health. This can range from anything to brushing an animal’s teeth, picking bugs off its’ fur with tweezers, pumping water in a bucket to give the animal to drink, picking the correct food and giving it to the animal to eat, covering an area of the animals body with heat spray (which looks like it’s destroying the animal’s flesh) and many others. These mini-games are all very derivative and most are unnecessarily awkward because the motion controls are very imprecise.

If there’s anything we really love doing in Jambo! Safari, it’s driving around like a drunken maniac and uncovering the game‘s many bugs. Because there’s no damage to your vehicle, we regularly crash into the enclosure as we enter (as well as other places of interest), we like how you crash into an invisible wall as you enter different areas (this is just silly) but we absolutely love crashing into the indestructible NPCs and then receiving mission requests. It’s just so strange.

Like I mentioned before, this really does feel like a lost Dreamcast game that has finally been released. The overall vibe is a very Sega one and it’s wonderfully relaxing to play. However, not a lot has been done to bring this game into the current generation and when the funniest parts of the games are really bugs you know you‘re in trouble. But hey, 50% off of National Geographic Kids magazine makes it all worth while right?


Written by Sonic Yoda on 15/11/2009

Box Artwork


Instruction Manual


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