Reviewed: July 3, 2008
“…and now for something a completely different.” Well, a little different. Sealife Safari isn’t the usual Xbox Live Arcade game. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to think of this title when I was asked to review it. Will this be an interactive screen saver or a cheap knockoff of Pixar’s “Finding Nemo”? It turns out it’s much more than that. Yes, it is a kid’s game. A young kid’s game. But it’s also a surprisingly good teaching tool and can be incredibly addictive for the more task oriented gamers.
The basic premise of Sealife Safari is you are assisting a professor to document all the sea life in various locations. Much like the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride at Disney World, you go into the ocean depths in a submarine that is essentially on rails. You have no control over the direction of the sub, but you can look around and zoom in and out with your camera.
Your purpose is to photograph all the local sea life. You get 24 exposures in your camera. You also get a “gizmo” to throw at the sealife to get them to do something unusual for you to photograph… I wonder why PETA hasn’t protested this game.
There are five maps in total for you to explore. You start out at the Corel Reef and after you reach a certain point achievement, another level is unlocked. There are a total of five maps including Coral Reef, Ship Graveyard, Deep Sea, Abyss, and Volcano. Each map has its own unique sealife to photograph.
When you have either used up all 24 exposures in our camera or reach the end of the automated submarine ride, your mission is over and you photos are then judged by the professor. It can be challenging to a decent star rating. What qualifies as a “good” picture is sometimes more of a personal opinion. Several times I was baffled as to why the professor chose one of my pictures over the other. I ran into problems photographing a mermaid and sealife when wreckage or plants would clearly be in the picture but the professor would pick the least appealing photo if I had thrown the “gizmo” at the subject to get them to perform a strange pose.
As I said, Sealife Safari is a useful teaching tool for young photographers. It can teach about composition and keeping the camera centered. However, it is very basic.
Sealife Safari is visually quite good for an Xbox Live Arcade game. Unfortunetly there are plenty of lags and visual stutters when the framerate is too high. This usually happens when you are moving around for views in other directions.
The sound is very basic. You are in a submersible taking pictures of sealife, so there’s not a lot to hear aside from bubbles and the stereotypical camera shutter click. It plays relaxing music as your submarine goes on a predetermined underwater course on a photo safari.
The real value in Sealife Safari is to teach the basics of photo composition. Yes, it is a relaxing game too, but it’s value comes in teaching. It is probably best for kids under 10, but even mid-lifers who are task oriented will find themselves trying the same level over and over to get the perfect 5 star photo rating.
There are 12 achievements for 200 points. Most of the achivements revolve around taking a photo of a rare fish or finding hidden items in the game.
This game was a pleasant surprise. I am a photographer in my spare time so I was quickly engaged in photographing and seeing how my photos were graded. It was pretty accurate in judgement, but on occasion a photo was graded far better than it should. Overall, Sealife Safari was a pleasant departure from the normal Xbox Live products.