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Nat Geo Challenge! Wild Life
Score: 95%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: D3
Developer: Gusto Games
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Trivia/ Puzzle/ Party

Graphics & Sound:
About two years ago, I reviewed National Geographic Panda. It was the first National Geographic game that I had even heard of. Now there is a new National Geographic game, Nat Geo Challenge! Wild Life. Fair warning, Nat Geo Challenge! Wild Life is a highly addictive game that you'll actually learn a lot from!

The graphics in Nat Geo Challenge! Wildlife are amazing, but it's not because of any special graphics coding. Instead, what you get are the most beautiful and awe-inspiring pictures of the Earth and the creatures on it that I've ever seen! National Geographic has always had wonderful pictures and I believe that they've complied the best of them for this game. My only complaint is that you can't get more information about the picture when you click on it. I'd love to have even more data like that available on demand. There are also nice extras, like the scenery on the puzzle pieces moves when you get enough of them put together. The animation is a bit startling at first, but since they're all moving alike, it doesn't distract you from putting the pieces together. Be warned, it can be nausea-inducing if you have two or more people moving puzzle pieces at the same time.

I love the music in Nat Geo Challenge! Wildlife. It is so wonderfully soothing that you can't help but to relax as you're playing. The host's voice is strong with just a trace of a British accent, especially when he says "hurricanes." Both the voicework and the music are perfect for the game.

There are several different ways that you can play Nat Geo Challenge! Wild Life, both alone and with up to 4 friends. First up is Quiz Mode. Here, you can choose to play with up to four players. You select from one of the four series: Amazing Planet, Dangerous Encounters, Aquatic Life, Predators Vs. Prey, or Mega Quiz, which has questions from all four series. Once you choose a series, then you choose the quiz length from 40, 60, or 80 questions. After that, you select who is on what team. You can even have everyone on the same team if you don't want to compete. If there is more than one person on a team, whoever presses an answer first is the one that answers the question. The game will respond to all controllers, so you're not stuck just sharing the same controller. After that, you choose your difficulty and you're ready to play. All the series are unlocked in Quiz Mode from the beginning and you will be told what the correct answer is if you miss a question. There is a time limit, so you want to make sure to answer quickly! You will not unlock anything new in Quiz Mode however.

Next up is Quest Mode. When you start a new game, there is only one series unlocked, Amazing Planet. You'll choose your difficulty and then start playing. There are a few episodes unlocked inside. Each episode is 10 questions about a specific topic. When you select an episode, you'll get a brief introduction video to the topic and then there are photos and some fascinating information about the subject as well. Make sure to read it all, because you'll need to know some of it for sure. When you're ready to begin the questions, select Play. You'll get a question and four possible answers. If you miss the question, it does not tell you what the correct answer is. There's no time limit though, so if you want to get perfect on the first try, you can always open the internet and Google for the answer. If you replay an episode, the questions will be the same and in the same order. The possible answers are the same as well, but they're not in the same position so make sure to read things carefully. Most questions are purely trivia, but some are pictures that you need to identify or letters that you have to unscramble or other fun things. Once you answer all 10 questions, you'll be given the option to retry or continue. Once you choose to continue, you'll find out what you unlocked. The better you do, the more things that you unlock including episodes and puzzle pieces. If you want all of the puzzle pieces and stat attack cards, you'll need to get 10/10 on every episode!

When you want to take a break from trivia, you can choose Stat Attack. You'll have unlocked more Stat Attack cards in the Quest Mode to play with, so you might as well use them. Stat Attack is a very interesting card game that requires you to choose cards based on what stats you think your opponent is going to choose. I can really see some fun potential with it if you have someone to play with a lot! When one player can no longer beat the other because they've collected so many cards, Stat Attack is over. There are also puzzles available that you can play by yourself when you're alone, or even with someone else. There are jigsaws, square puzzles, and sliders. Personally, I like the jigsaws best, but they're all quite fun!

Nat Geo Challenge! Wild Life is wonderful about providing entertainment for all ages. You can choose from Easy, Medium, and Hard difficulty levels which means that there is a difficulty level for anyone who wants to play. The controls are simple enough that you can set a child down and they'll be able to play by themselves, but I highly recommend that you spend the time playing together as it is a lot more fun with someone else.

If you want to unlock all the trophies, you're going to need someone else since a large portion of them involve multiplayer quizzes. Of course, if you're a true loner or friendless, since you can have two people on the same team, you can always just use a fake player and let the controller sit there to unlock those trophies. You'll still have to play for a long time to unlock everything, which of course is a lot of fun! There are over 5,000 questions total. At a bit over 6 hours in, I made it to 26% complete if that tells you how long you can go without any replay. But, of course, there is infinite replay as I can promise you're not going to remember every detail from the beginning by the time you get to the end.

Game Mechanics:
As I said before, the controls are simple enough that a child can operate them easily. You simply press the button that is shown on the screen to select what you want. The controls are very responsive, which isn't as important in Quest Mode but is a necessity for playing Quiz Mode against anyone else. Nat Geo Challenge! Wild Life also makes it easier to play the puzzles. The puzzle pieces auto rotate when you pick them up, but they begin facing any random direction. This makes it a more of a challenge than just having them all face the same direction from the beginning, but makes the controls easier. All you have to do is pick up a piece and drop it next to the one it joins to and it'll automatically join. To tweak any of the settings for audio, the controls, or the visuals, just press the Start button and it'll bring up a menu for that.

Nat Geo Challenge! Wild Life is, by far, the most entertaining educational game I've ever played. It has an amusing sense of humor, even giving one possible answer choice as the atmosphere protects the earth by "warding off aliens." It's highly addictive and will keep you coming back for more. Personally, I recommend Nat Geo Challenge! Wild Life for everyone. At only $29.99, it's a real steal. You can't ask for more than a game that keeps you entertained and teaches you at the same time!

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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