Review: Safari Hunt (Master System)

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Safari Hunt was an early light gun game for the Sega Master System and released in 1986. Being a light gun game with the word "Hunt" in it, it's hard to not to assume this was Sega's response to Duck Hunt. Safari Hunt is a very simple game.

There are just 3 different environments, and each is just a static screen with various creatures wondering around. The first stage is set at a lake and your targets are ducks, rabbits, and fish. The second stage is a forest, with bears, armadillos, apples, and birds. The third stage is the jungle, with spiders, monkeys, bats, and panthers. After completing the third stage, the game repeats back to the first stage. This happens 23 times, for a total of 69 levels.

There is some strategy involved in the game, as different animals are worth different point amounts. To make it to the next round, you have to reach a predefined point threshold to continue on. You start each stage with 30 rounds of ammunition, after you run out of bullets, or a hidden time limit (somewhere around 75 seconds), the level ends.

Additionally, the Bear in the forest level takes a total of 5 hits to bring down. Even still, it doesn't take long before you memorize the enemy patterns for all of the furry creatures. Soon after you will be on cruise control through the 69 levels. At that point, it really just becomes a high score contest rather than a challenge.

The art design is very cute and cartooney, which almost makes Safari Hunt creepy. Something about shooting a smiling, hopping bunny, or a cute little monkey seems wrong. Thankfully, none of the animals die, they all just run away off screen. Whew.

Over the years the only light gun game I have ever played was in fact Duck Hunt on the original Nintendo, and that was 20 years ago. So I was really curious just how accurate Sega's Light Phaser gun would be. I'm happy to report that my gun, a terrible example with missing pieces, is excellent.

After getting used lining up the little notch on the front of the Light Phaser, with the little sight guides on the back, accuracy was rarely an issue. However, holding your arm in the air for a couple hours while keeping one eye closed isn't always the most comfortable thing in the world. This is largely the reason I don't own a Nintendo Wii...

Safari Hunt has definitely wet my appetite for more light gun games. This one is almost too simple, and most gamers should be able to beat it on their first or second time through. Despite it's simplicity, there is a somewhat addicting quality to the game, and I spent 2 hours playing through the same 3 levels over and over again just to what would happen after it was all done. While the ending isn't really worth it, it is a fine example of Engrish.

As noted above, Safari Hunt is graphically very simple. The bright colors and smoothly animated animals aren't terrible looking by any stretch, there just isn't much going on. The only music in the game occurs between levels. Lastly, the 2 sound affects are for when you miss an animal, or hit an animal. That's it. Some nice bird chirps, monkey noises, or a roar from the bear would have been a nice addition.

Overall, Safari Hunt is an interesting diversion from some of the more difficult and hardcore titles available for the Sega Master System. It's isn't terribly difficult, and there isn't a lot to see. But if you own a Light Phaser and want to try something different, give Safari Hunt a try. It's likely built into your system already anyway.

Graphics 4/10 - Bright and detailed, but not much going on Sound 2/10 - No music, weak effects Game play 6/10 - Works well with the Light Phaser Overall 5/10 - Not terrible, but not great... average

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