There was never a box for Safari Hunt, so here’s the questionable title screen.
RELEASE DATE: 1986 – (JP, US), 1987 – (EU)
If Duck Hunt is a leisurely stroll with your dog into the duck-filled field behind your house, Safari Hunt is driving through Africa in a jeep, with only your bullets and blood lust holding you back. Panthers, bears, armadillos: nothing is off limits. Does the mindless hopping of a bunny fill you with indignant rage? Shoot it. Did that monkey climbing down the tree give you the stink eye? It’s gotta go. And nothing’s more infuriating than a bat blindly flying his way through the forest and knocking off your safari hat while you’re trying to shoot that exotic spider. C’est la vie, batty.
Is that linguini in the tree?
The Safari Hunt basics, if you couldn’t guess: shoot at anything that moves or looks at you cock-eyed with your gray Light Phaser. In each stage, you’re given a certain amount of bullets. Once the bullets run out or you take too much time figuring out which animal you hate most, the round is over. There are three different environments that you travel to: a lake, a jungle, and a forest, in that order. After you complete the forest stage, you’re back to the lake, and the levels repeat like that until you complete level 69 (naughty Sega… I think?).
You have to acquire a precise amount of points before you move on to the next round, and every species is worth differing amounts. Flying creatures – ducks, bats, birds – are usually worth the least, despite being incredibly hard to shoot. Fast ground creatures – rabbits, panthers, and armadillos – are worth quite a bit more, but your aim will have to be more precise. Since you have a limited amount of bullets, always shoot at the animals that will give you more points. You have about 90-120 seconds to shoot the right creatures to get the right amount of points to advance. Plenty of time to pile up the corpses.
These ducks aren’t as silly looking as the ones in Duck Hunt.
Before Alex Kidd lit up the insides of Master Systems the world over, Safari Hunt was built into version 2.4 of the Master System BIOS. It was also placed onto a combo cartridge with Hang On in the States and Marksman Shooting & Trap Shooting in Europe. This makes Safari Hunt very similar to Duck Hunt, in that, if you owned a Master System within the first couple years of its existence, you’ve likely played this game; possibly a lot, depending on what other games you had.
Apples are worth points too, but they don’t bleed so why bother?
Now 69 rounds of animal shooting action is nothing to sneeze at, but like other early light gun games, there’s no replay value here unless you’re looking to build a higher score or read the hilarious message at the end of the game (“You are a wonderful hunt/Let’s go to the real hun/With a real gun”). Also, I appreciate Sega using Nintendo’s duck-shooting template and expanding upon it, but I’m not a huge fan of shooting animals like panthers, monkeys and armadillos. My own personal convictions and whatnot, and I do understand that these are virtual animals, but it’s still not my cup of tea – particularly when the game is doing its best to emulate an actual safari hunt. Mostly, though, it’s the limited gameplay that makes me none-too-enthused about Sega’s exotic shooting gallery. Three or four rounds of just about any early light gun game is enough to satisfy this warhorse.