The people in charge of Afrika at Sony must be kicking themselves right about now. If they don't hurry up and get the wildlife-tech-demo-turned-vaporware-safari-simulator onto shelves soon, Majesco will beat them to the punch with Wild Earth: African Safari on the Wii. In a Majesco rep's own words, Wild Earth is exactly what the elusive Afrika has been rumored for months to be: a safari-themed Pokémon Snap in which you quietly hunt down and grab pictures of the many beasts that inhabit the savannah.
Wild Earth gives you a handful of assignments in different parts of Africa, and each assignment has a sizeable number of photography-related objectives to complete. Some examples we saw included getting pictures of a cheetah chasing its prey, a close-up of a spiderweb, and a crocodile with a particular kind of bird perched on its head. You've got an "impact meter" that gauges your intrusive effect on the environment; in other words, if you get too close to or otherwise disturb the animals, you'll ruin your chance for that perfect shot. Many of the objectives are also timing-based, so in some cases you'll need to slowly follow behind a particular animal and closely watch its behavior to get your shot at a specific moment.
The game gives you basic information on each animal after you snap an acceptable photo of it, so Wild Earth might be useful as an educational tool (though we didn't get to look at the included text to see exactly how in-depth it is). There's also a four-player cooperative mode here in which all four players can take pictures independently (though only the first player can handle the walking or driving controls), with everyone competing for the best pictures. Lastly, if you get bored of the core gameplay, you can jump into 11 minigames that use various motion controls. We saw a game in which you flap the Nunchuk and Wii Remote to guide a vulture through aerial rings; another that has you, as an elephant, hosing down dirty animals as they plod along the riverside; and lastly, a whack-a-meerkat game similar to what you'd see at any carnival or county fair. (GameSpot does not endorse the wanton bodily abuse of meerkats or other defenseless wildlife.)
Wild Earth is clearly a kid-oriented game, with its low-impact gameplay and educational bent. But if you've been desperately awaiting news of Afrika while Sony has cryptically released bits of footage and not much else during the last couple of years, this might be up your alley. The game is scheduled to be released in the spring.