Sea Life Safari is the upcoming underwater exploration game from Sierra for Xbox Live Arcade. The game is in the same vein as the Nintendo 64 oddity Pokemon Snap and has you going through the ocean on rails, taking pictures of the aquatic denizens in their native environment. We had a quick overview of the Sea Life, which is clearly skewed at the young set, to get an idea of what to expect.
Sea Life's premise is simple: You're working in the service of a genial professor who tasks you with exploring the ocean and photographing fish. He loads you up with a camera and a device designed to get the attention of your assorted subjects. Your goal is to snap shots of the various fish you encounter. You'll need to be a little discriminating because you'll be limited to 24 shots per dive, so you'll have to pace yourself. At the end of a run, your pics are rated from one to three stars according to various criteria. Your best shots are saved in your photo log, which automatically updates and replaces older pics with newer, better shots. Besides the draw of improving your pic rating, Sea Life's rail-oriented gameplay will offer some alternate paths in each area based on your performance and cough up some hidden items that will appear as you replay levels, as well as feature collectible gold shells for you to discover.
The visuals in the game are simple and cartoony with a slightly goofy style. The above water "graphics" are basically still images of the prof and buildings. Things are considerably livelier underwater where you'll have a fully 3D underwater environment to tour. The stars of the game are the fish, which are rendered in a cartoony style that fits the game's light tone. The underwater settings offer a bit of variety, but overall, they're on the modest end.
Based on what we saw, Sea Life Safari is most definitely a game aimed at younger players and their parents. There's a decent amount of variety, thanks to the alternate routes you can take and the variety of fish that will appear based on the time of day on your Xbox. The gameplay is pretty shallow but has the potential to become addictive for obsessive-compulsive gamers who feel they have to get perfect pictures of everything they encounter. Anyone looking to offer younger gamers in the house a little something to play around with might want to keep an eye out for the game when it hits this summer.