The Garden of Eden: Adam Fights Back
RELEASE DATE: 1983 (JP)
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.
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 Uvlist.net)