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Game Reviewed: SimAnimals Africa
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: The Sims Studio
Platform: Wii (also on Nintendo DS)
ESRB Rating: E
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In the ancient land of Africa, there once grew a magnificent tree, the Tree of Life. But greedy men came and stole branches, threatening the Tree and spreading sadness among the Eight Tribes of Africa’s animals – Zebra, Hippo, Crocodile, Elephant, Lion, Gazelle, Rhino, and Gorilla.
Guided by the Great Totems (one for each animal Tribe), the player must gain the trust of individual animals and increase their skills in order to accomplish certain tasks to prosper each tribe and rejuvenate the land. Increasing these skills soon sets apart the animal from the rest of the Tribe by decorating it with colorful and lively patterns similar to “war paint.”
Start by using the Wii remote to scratch and pet animals, then learn to feed the animals their favorite foods, play games with them, or even find a mate to grow the Tribe. Take control of individual animals and find rare fruit, insects and special cookies to fulfill the needs of the Totems and Magic Trees gaining medals and extra powers to help the player in their quest. Search the land from desert to rivers and the savannah for the secret of the Tree of Life and heal the land.
What Parents Need to Know
Lions and crocodiles need to eat and fruit or flowers will not fill their tummies as much as a nice zebra steak. As such, predatory animals will pounce on their prey kicking up a cloud of dust reminiscent of Looney Toons. An icon off to the right shows a portrait of the deceased animal with a tombstone followed by the roar of a satisfied lion or croc.
No bad language.
Animals need to mate to grow their Tribe. Mating does take place but is signified by “nuzzling” (rubbing noses) between two like animals of the opposite sex followed by a sparkling glow around the female and a cute little baby animal.
The premise of SimAnimals Africa follows the story of a magical Tree of Life that holds the power to restore happiness and health to the lands of Africa. To accomplish this, the player must take instruction and aid from animal Totems, the spiritual caretakers of the animals. Players must also fulfill tasks given by Magic Trees to increase the Good Energy in the land. In addition, there are Energy Stones, which activate once the Energy Meter for a certain area exceeds a set limit and an altar in the last area that affects the Tree of Life.
Africa is similar to the previous EA title, SimAnimals Africa, in that the principles are the same – restore balance and happiness to the land. All eight animal types in this game are four-legged – no birds, snakes, or fish – which could have certainly added to the experience.
As a Wii game, Africa requires the use of the Nunchuk to play.
Like any game in EA’s Sims franchise, Africa lets the player live vicariously through animated characters, in this case the majestic animals of the continent of Africa.
This is a fun and interesting game with plenty of take-away value. While Africa is not as involved or detailed as other simulation games, it is great for kids, with interesting activities and engaging tasks that are easy to learn but challenging to do well. The animals are charismatic and entertaining in their antics and the colorful patterns used on the skilled animals’ helps breakup the similitude of the Tribes. Not to mention that gameplay revolves around the pace of the player. An adept player with a focus on discovering the end of the story line can do so in a matter of hours. But for those who approach gaming with a more casual attitude, Africa can easily take days to weeks or longer.