Posted on June 21, 2008, Chris XBLA Hors D’oeuvres: Sea Life Safari
XBLA Hors D’oeurvres are a weekly feature where I play the latest Xbox Live Arcade game – in trial form – for no more than 10 minutes, and then summarize my impressions of the game based only upon that.
Pokemon Snap was never something I enjoyed. I remember being forced to play it and I found it to be as dull as could possibly be. But, it garnered its fans because it worked well enough and anything with the Pokemon named attached to it is guaranteed to sell a million of 76 million copies — it’s a simple statistical fact.
Sea Life Safari is a lot like Pokemon Snap for obvious reasons, with a sort of Finding Nemo-ish vibe to the whole thing. The trial of the game is quite brief, but it does give you an excellent look at what the game has in store. Perhaps more than any other Arcade title (with the possible exception of something like Buku Sudoku), you already know whether or not you have any intention of playing the game.
If it weren’t for these stories, I doubt I’d ever have bothered to play Safari. Being subject to Pokemon Snap was bad enough, and while that isn’t to say Snap or Safari are bad games, but it just isn’t my thing. This is clearly geared towards the younger crowd and as a family-friendly title, and it certainly succeeds at the latter. I’m not entirely sure how excited a kid would be at the prospect of photographing digital sea life when they could be playing Guitar Hero or hopscotch, but the game is very colorful and the fish have over-the-top reactions that I think will put a smile on your kid’s face if you play the game with them. (Provided the kid is no older than six or so.)
Photos are judged on a number of criteria, including the direction the creature is facing, if the photo is centered, and if you’ve caught an interesting pose. Beyond that, there’s no real twist to the game (at least not from what I saw) — you just try and take the best pictures you possibly can and enjoy the ride.
I played through the tutorial, which took around five minutes and is the entirety of the trial, and I felt like I had played enough. There’s no way I’d consider buying it, personally, but I can certainly see the appeal of having a relaxing and friendly game to play. If you have kids, you should absolutely check this out and see what they think. At $10, it’s much cheaper than a trip to the aquarium, and it’ll have them more engaged that flipping on the Discovery Channel would. (Plus, they can help score you some achievements in the process.)