Sealife Safari

Out of the two Xbox Live Arcade titles released this week I didn’t think that Sealife Safari would be the one that I would end up buying. Loading up the demo, launching the first level and having my sixteen month old daughter point at the screen and shout “fishy!” convinced me otherwise.

You play an underwater photographer who is helping a scientist with his research by taking pictures of marine animals.

The controls are simple. You travel through each level on rails. You move your camera around with the left thumb stick, zoom with left trigger and capture a shot with the right. An additional button launches a “gizmo” device into the water ahead of you.

There are five diverse underwater environments to play through. Different fish appear in each area and you have to photograph twelve specific fish per level for the scientist. The appearance of a couple of fish in the game is dependent on the time of day you’re playing.

Your scientist friend awards a star rating to each photograph you take. Your cumulative star score unlocks further levels. This means that even if you get stuck in one level you can revisit an earlier area to try and obtain additional stars. The scientist uses your best photographs for his log and you can also store your favourite shots in your own personal album.

Each type of fish can be photographed as many different times as you like but you are limited to twenty-four pictures per dive session. You’d think that your diver would’ve bought a bigger memory card!

As well as fish you need to be on the lookout for special objects to photograph and collect golden shells if you want every single achievement the game has to offer. Talking of achievements, they’re really easy. I picked up all two hundred of them in a couple of play sessions.

The graphics in the game are pitched somewhere between realistic and cartoony. It’s certainly more a case of Finding Nemo than the Discovery Channel. Fish have distinct characters and react differently to the throwing of gizmos.

Playing Sealife Safari is really quite a relaxing way to pass a couple of hours. It’s fun to bob along each level, exploring the environment and snapping fish.

The online downside about the game is the price. If you don’t enjoy it then you will begrudge spending 800 Microsoft points. If you do enjoy the game, however, you’ll probably race through and complete it so quickly that once again the price will again become an issue. It’s simply too short a game to be worth the 800 points. Or is it?

After all, I’m coming at things from the point of view of an older gamer. Sealife Safari is one of those titles that would be great for younger children who will, I think, really enjoy this simplistic underwater adventure.

At around £7 it’s probably cheaper than a day out at your local aquarium.

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