You are the safari park's rookie ranger, and can choose from one of four characters to represent yourself. After a few basic tutorials, you are thrown into the bush and told to rescue sick and injured animals. It's a good job that this isn't as daunting as in real life - some of the first animals you deal with are lions! The tutorials go through the process of capturing animals and taking pictures once you are in the bush, but before you can get to that point you have to drive around and find the locations by following an on-screen guide arrow that tells you exactly where you need to go.
Capturing animals is the main part of the game. There are two modes of difficulty: Age 3+ (easy) and Age 10+ (hard). In the Age 10+ mode, you must get an animal into your sight, then swing the Wii Remote in an upright circular motion, much like a lasso. Driving after the animal, once you have yourself positioned at the right angle you throw the lasso - bingo! The capture doesn't stop there, however; once lassoed you need to reel the beast in. This involves keeping up a chase while holding down the B button, before finally throwing a net at just right moment to capture the animal. If this sounds simple, it isn't - the animals dart all over the place to shake off the lasso and evade your manical driving. If the chase proves tough and the B button is held down for too long, the rope can even snap, meaning that the whole process of hooking the animal must begin again. However cruel or brutal this may sound, you are assured that the animals suffer no distress. The problem is, chasing at the same time as aiming a net is incredibly fiddly, and the failure of the game to lock-on to targets properly gets annoying very quickly. In 3+ mode these problems are eradicated, as the aiming and net-throwing is automated, making it ideal for younger players. However, while this makes for a less frustrating experience, it is at the expense of the fulfilment you gain from a successful capture if you are a seasoned gamer.
Once the animal has been caught it is sent to the ranch were Aluna the vet is waiting to help you make them better. Aside from the ranger missions within the park, animal care is a large part of the game. Depending on the injury, a sequence of minigames will take place which you will need to complete in order to make the animal well. It's not as simple as just putting a plaster on the wound. The time required for recovery depends on the type of injury. For example, a zebra with some light grazing may only need some antiseptic cream and a cuddle before it can be sent on its way. A cheetah with a fracture would understandably need a lot more care and recovery time. However, you can only have three sick animals back at your base at one time; if there are animals resting in your facilities, you'll need to wait before you capture any more poorly beasts to fix up. Feeding animals is a mildly irritating activity, as the hot zones where you must place the food so that the creature accepts it varies from species to species. Some of them will refuse a steak if it's placed before their mouth but will happily gobble it down if you try to jam it into their eye socket.
There are many different types of ranger missions and these will be shown on the zone map as coloured dots. Ranger missions vary in complexity, from capturing a member of a certain species according to a brief description you are given, to emergency missions like putting out a bush fire. The next zone will be unlocked dependent on how many missions have been completed from the previous zone. Camera missions are where you need to take a photo of an animal in a specific situation, i.e. a giraffe and its baby, two jackals together or an antelope grazing. Around the park zones you will find small yellow camera icons that show you optimum spots for shooting perfect shots. Photos are submitted automatically once you take them and graded on quality. The only problem with the camera missions is that you only get one chance at taking a photo of a particular request, and if the photo you take is not of great quality you do not get a chance to resubmit the photo for a better grade. It also does not let you know why one photo is good and why another is bad, although usually the more the animal fills up the frame the better the photo. For a different angle on things, you are able to take balloon rides and take photos at a distance without disturbing animals by loudly driving around. Balloon rides are a nice way to see all of the areas in the zone you are in and you can often spot hidden areas that you may not have noticed on the ground - but there is no way of exiting a balloon ride once it has started, you just have to ride it out!
Driving around and exploring the park without chasing down animals can have its rewards too: there are various clothing and vehicle modification crates that you can find, along with amber pieces, native masks and fruit that can be collected to gain Ranger Points. Ranger Points are the currency of the game and are used to buy further clothing to customise your look and vehicle modifications to pimp up your ride; you can alter the colour, decal stickers, change your tyres to suit different conditions and add a bull bar if you so wish. More vehicle upgrades and clothing can also be unlocked from completing missions.
The Party mode leaves something to be desired. It seems as though these multiplayer games were tagged on as an afterthought for the sake of it, which is a shame because a well executed multiplayer aspect to this game could have been quite enjoyable. As it is, the game could have done without them. There are four types of multiplayer game, each of which can be played with up to a maximum of four players. Ostrich Racing is controlled by holding the Wii Remote horizontally and thrusting backwards and forwards to make the ostrich run, jerking upwards to jump over obstacles. The ostriches run out of energy very quickly regardless of how quickly or slowly you are making the character move, and the controls are unresponsive. Jam Ball is a primitive game of football, using jeeps to manoeuvre. It's just as difficult as it sounds, because as soon as the jeep taps the giant football, it goes flying further than it should and often in a different direction than you intended. Stone Skipping is what the name suggests: you throw stones across a lake to make them skip across the surface as far as possible. You hold down the B button, swing and release the button, but it is unclear whether the positioning of the Wii Remote or the strength of the throw effects how the stone skips. The most enjoyable of the minigames is Meerkat Mayhem. The aim is to get the meerkats to collect as much of the fruit as possible and direct them to your den in order to score points. The D-pad is used to place directional arrows on the game board, and even though you can only change the direction of arrows that you have placed, there is still room for sabotage of the other players. If you don't feel like playing minigames to get your multiplayer fix, there's also a co-operative mode in the single player where one person drives, the other controls the lasso.