Do you remember last year when Outdoors Unleashed: Africa 3D was released on the 3DS eShop and it got people talking about the ethics of video games? Many were up in arms and offended by the idea of a game featuring the hunting of wildlife on an African safari, but that didn’t stop it from being a fun arcade shooter. Now we’re treated to a second round of three-dimensional hunting action with Wild Adventures: Ultimate Deer Hunt 3D, a spiritual successor to Outdoors Unleashed that’s sure to satiate many itchy trigger fingers.
Much like the previous title, Wild Adventures: Ultimate Deer Hunt 3D is an arcade-style on-rails shooter with a strong focus on high scores. As an arcade shooter, there is a distinct lack of realism here, but that’s exactly the game’s intention. Animals freely walk in and out of your field of vision en masse, providing plenty of opportunities to hunt them down. Chaining kills will increase your combo counter and thus increase your score, while shooting females will instead penalize your score and break your combo along with it. There are a variety of weapons and equipment to unlock, but literally all you have to do to unlock everything is complete the levels; rather than staggering your equipment’s statistics and adding variety or customization to the gameplay, the new weapons that you unlock are always better than the last in every way, making equipping a weapon from early in the game pointless. That’s about as complicated as this game gets. Anyone looking for a more fleshed out hunting simulator will be severely disappointed in the gameplay offered here, but the simplicity is what will draw most players in.
All of the action appears on the 3DS’ top screen while the bottom screen is riddled with everything else that you may need to work with. From switching your weapon to reloading your gun, all of your options are displayed through a series of buttons on the touchscreen. Moving your stylus around a designated area on the bottom screen will cause a corresponding crosshair to move on the top screen, making aiming at your targets an easy action to master. If you’re not one for using the touchscreen, all of the actions are also assigned to physical buttons as well, with the Circle Pad used to aim and the L and R buttons to shoot. With both L and R as accessible triggers, even the southpaws will be comfortable on the hunt.
Being an on-rails shooter, the game will automatically move you through each stage, or Hunting Site, while your job is to aim and shoot at almost every living creature that appears on screen. Each Hunting Site will take you further north in the Alaskan wilderness, with your eventual goal being to reach a cabin situated at the top of your map. There are 19 levels in total, each with a time limit from around two to five minutes, making for a very condensed expedition that can be completed in around an hour and a half, but it’s replayability over variety that matters most here. At the beginning of each stage you will be shown the scores that you must achieve in order to earn bronze, silver, or gold medals, and attempting to earn a gold medal at each Hunting Site will definitely have you playing the same stage over and over again. Unfortunately, this game is lacking an online leaderboard, so all of your high scores will have to be kept local, but at least you can still brag to all of your friends and family. Beyond simply reaching high scores, there are also over 50 Totems and Trophies — in-game achievements — to unlock by completing tasks such as finishing all Hunting Sites with 100% accuracy or killing 50 bison, so the completionists out there will definitely have their hands full.
As far as aesthetics go, this game looks exactly like Africa Unleashed, but with a snowy Alaskan blanket wrapped around it. All of the animals and environments are rendered in 3D, so nothing ever looks flat, even when playing with your 3D slider all the way down. There are some slight issues with identifying animals that are off in the distance, as they can sometimes appear grainy, but the issue isn’t prominent enough to detract from the game’s overall quality. With the 3D effect turned on, the environments have a significant amount of depth added to them, making the game much more immersive. Being able to actually judge the distance between you and your target is brilliant for this type of game.
The soundtrack, on the other hand, does little to enhance the experience. There are about two different songs in this game, a soothing plucky guitar tune that is present while selecting your stage and equipment, and a heavy rock guitar riff during your hunts. The former fits the tone of the game quite well, but the latter is a bit jarring, and it’s also pretty short, ensuring that you’ll hear it looped several times during each stage.
Though Wild Adventures: Ultimate Deer Hunt 3D may be a solid on-rails arcade shooter, it plays like a watered-down version of the previously released Outdoors Unleashed: Africa 3D. That’s not to say that this is, by any stretch of the imagination, a bad game, but there is less being offered in this package when it is ostensibly the same game that was released a few months back. If you’ve already played Outdoors Unleashed: Africa 3D to its fullest extent and you’re craving more on-rails hunting action, then Wild Adventures is the game for you. If instead you’re a new player to the genre, then the former is definitely the right place to start.