Safari Hunting


The Garden of Eden: Adam Fights Back




DEVELOPER: Sega/Compile

GENRE: Arcade



If you have any affinity for animals whatsoever, Safari Hunting may rub you the wrong way.


You play a poacher who tranquilizes animals in their natural habitat, then sells them for profit. The more animals you collect in your Jeep of Ill Intent, the more money you receive. There are four different animals to tranq, ranging from small to huge: snakes, gorillas, lions, and elephants. Snakes take two shots, gorillas take three, lions four, and elephants five. Once you knock out the animals, you have thirty seconds to drag them (ever so slowly) back to your jeep. If the animal wakes up before you reach your jeep, they understandably freak out and kill you.


While you knock out animals, you also have to keep an eye on your jeep’s fuel gauge. The only way to refill your depleting fuel is to throw one of every type of animal into your jeep. Once the jeep has been filled with one of each animal, the fuel gauge refills and you can go about your evil way. In order to progress to the next round, though, you have to tranq one of every type of animal on-screen and leave them on the ground. Don’t take them back to your jeep or you’ll be stuck on Round 1 forever.


Sometimes ten seconds will pass without any sign of an animal. Isn’t the point to hunt them?


Safari Hunting is a one-screen game, consisting of a forest filled with creatures. While you and the animals typically wander within the forest boundaries, your jeep idles on the outskirts of the forest’s many entrances, and you/the animals are free to meander on the outskirts, as well. Tranq an animal on the outskirts, though, and you’ll be forced to collect them with your jeep. Also, if an animal comes across your jeep of its own accord, they will free the other captured animals and you’ll lose money. Serves you right.


You’ll know when a certain animal is about to arrive when you see a little colored head pop out of the brush. Don’t ever get too close to them, though, even when it’s just their head poking out or you’ll die. Sometimes. The hit detection wavers from reasonable to ridiculous. I died several times, even when my pixels weren’t touching the animal’s.


Poor hit detection is just one of Safari Hunting‘s problems. Morally curious premise aside, the gameplay just isn’t enjoyable. Safari Hunting‘s two goals – collecting animals for profit or shooting one of every kind to progress to the next round – don’t satisfy. You can drag animals back to your jeep all day and never move beyond the first round. Progressing to the next round is ridiculously hard too, especially at first, because the animals always take their sweet time coming out of the forest. Once you tranq a snake, for example, you have to hope that, within thirty seconds, a lion, an elephant, and a gorilla will show up, and you’ll be able to shoot them all without any of them going back into the brush.


Still waiting…


Once again, the SG-1000 and the arcade versions differ somewhat from one another. In the arcade version (which was actually named Tranquilizer Gun, not Safari Hunting), there are far more animals on-screen at any given time, but the hit detection is much more forgiving; walk next to an animal and you won’t die. Collecting animals in your gurney sack and dropping them off at your jeep takes far less time, as well. While I’m not a fan of Safari Hunting, in general, if you have to try one, play the arcade version. The SG-1000 version is needlessly slow, especially given that the arcade version was three years old upon release, and that both versions, in theory, share similar hardware.


Yeah, Safari Hunting is a game, not a pro-hunting/poaching manifesto, but I still felt uneasy playing it. Perhaps if Safari Hunting produced some amount of pleasure for me, however small, I’d be a bit more lenient with the game’s lack of scruples.




(Images courtesy of GameFAQs, VG Museum, and

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17 thoughts on “Safari Hunting

  1. It’s a shame that this game is no good. I can vaugely remember as a small child playing the arcade game and enjoying it. And wondered why we never saw an arcade version at home. Hardcore gaming 101 has a good article on this game.

    Interestingly it made it to a Sega Ages disc with a PS2 remake with modern graphics which you can see at the hardcore gaming 101 link.

    Also this is kind of a series of Safari games from Sega. Thie first being an EM arcade game they produced before video games.

    Then there was a 1977 arcade game Safari that directly predates this one.

    Probrably a direct inspiration for this game.

    And another game heartening back to the EM game and that you will be playing soon is Safari Hunt on the SMS that uses a light gun. Which was packed in with the US SMS.

    In addition Sega kind of revisits its Safari roots in the arcade in the 2000’s with the vehicle driving animal catching game Jambo Safari.

    Which really takes its roots from this game. And also had a Wii release and NDS release. Probrably these Safari games are Segas least known continuing series in the West.

    1. Wow, I’d only heard of Safari Hunt before this – and that PS2 Sega Ages update which I debated mentioning, then decided against it.

      Pretty crazy that Sega continued with this series as much as they did. Thanks for the info, Sean!

      1. Ya none of that stuff is really relevant to the review. Which was a good read by the way. But it does add some historical context. That’s what comments are for right? 🙂

        But I had a good time in the arcade with Jambo Safari. It’s a fairly unique animal friendly game built on Naomi hardware. If I ever see the Wii version on sale cheap I may pick it up.

  2. That has got to be one of the worst box-arts I’ve ever seen.
    I like the concept, but it seems the only worthwhile version is the Arcade original.

  3. An excellent article. At first I thought it was Safari Hunt which I had built in to the Sega Master System along with the original Hang-On which I still love to play on my emulator.

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