Nat Geo Challenge! Wild Life

FUZZ! Quiz World

It's not the way we like it… Gusto Games give us Nat Geo Challenge! Wild Life.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: December 16, 2010
When you first pick up the box and see the 4 teenagers staring back at you, having the time of their life, you might be a little intrigued by Nat Geo Challenge! Wild Life. If you look a little closer, you'll notice those 4 are not the type you'd really want to be seen hanging around with (but probably the ones you DID hang around with) if you liked fun. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But do these exuberant youths know a good game when they see one? Well… not really…


NGC!WL is a sort of fusion of Animal Planet and You Don't Know Jack, featuring quizzes that go beyond just multiple choice at times, and a semi-snarky announcer decrying your every error, all revolving around something biological. The main "mode" for the games is Quest, where you choose one of four topics (choose carefully, you are locked in for a long time) and thrown onto a globe littered with hotspots that might be a quiz, a jigsaw puzzle, or an annoying slider game. These quizzes are all ten-question affairs, and are themed in a subset of the overall "Quest" theme (such as Venus Fly Traps in the "Dangerous Plants" Quest) and there are a large number of them in each of the four Quests.

Outside of the quest mode, you can also play a straight quiz (40, 60 or 80 questions long) in any of the four categories (or a potpourri mix of the four) on three different skill levels. These quizzes tend to change up every few questions into a new category or a special quiz where it reveals parts of a picture and makes you guess what it is, or watching a short video and answering a series of memory questions about it, which are nice to break up the straight multiple choice entry-level college class questions that make up the bulk of the game.

There are also 3 sets of puzzles (themed around the same four categories as everything else) including a decent jigsaw puzzle that multiple people can do at once (featuring dynamic pictures that occasionally animate for a period and come to rest on a new image), an infuriating tile slider game (somehow much harder to control than in real life) and a rotating images game called "squares". Most of this content is locked away until you complete the appropriate section of Quest mode though.

Finally there is "Stat Attack", a strange Pokemon-esque card game where various animals are assigned 4 stats (speed, life, attack, and defend, basically) and in a difficult to describe process they take turns battling based on one stat until someone exhausts all their cards. It's an interesting diversion, to be sure, even if I never quite grasped the best strategy.

That is a lot of content for the budget price of $29.99, but when it comes to quiz games, the presentation and questions are really what matters, and this title fails pretty badly in these areas. Before we proceed, let me state that I have a degree in Biology, and I am pretty damn good at trivia games. Let me also add that this game seems to be aimed at high-school age kids (albeit the nerdier ones). That being said, even on easy, a lot of the questions were REALLY FUCKING HARD. It would be fine if the game dispensed information to you that would let you answer if you paid attention. Sometimes it does. Other times it will ask you about the feeding habits of locusts after showing you a video of a moray eel. Do they honestly expect that anyone who isn't a lepidopterologist will know if the antennae length of a Monarch butterfly is .7, 1, or 1.2 millimeters? If I'm just blindly mashing buttons like Ray Charles at a Smash Brothers tournament, that isn't a very compelling quiz game.

The actual quiz mode lacks any panache like you'd find in the BUZZ! series, apart from the snappy announcer. A bland scoreboard that pops up between levels (seemingly ripped from Scene-It) doesn't do much to inspire the desire for more playing time, and if it weren't for the excellent multiplayer support (7 people can play offline, in any combination of up to four teams, so six people can team up against the fucking know-it-all kid) there would be little reason to have this game around the house. If you and your family and friends are all Botanists and Marine Biologists, someone half-heartedly listened to your request and made a game for you. For the rest of us, there aren't enough pretty pictures and HD video to keep us playing for the hour required just to play one of the short quizzes.

Trophy Tips- Most of these are grindy trophies for acing enough quizzes or sliding tiles fast enough, and a lot of them involve playing 30-40 games in various multiplayer modes. You ca go back and retake quizzes as much as you want, so there isn't real a trophy that is "hard" to get here, but far, far too dull. Platinum Difficulty : Easy, but mind-numbingly time consuming.
The Verdict
5.0

A fairly decent jigsaw puzzle simulator wrapped up in a dull, difficult quiz game. Terrific if you are a Life Sciences obsessed teen or retired zoologist, but a waste of time for the rest of us.

8.0Graphics:

HD videos and still shots look really nice, but they forgot to put any pizzaz in the presentation, so the game looks like a textbook rather than something you want to interact with.

10.0Sound:

Sounds is great. Love the snark.

8.5Control:

Well the 4 buttons work great for multiple choice, but the puzzle sections do not feel right at all.

4.0Gameplay:

Oooops. Someone forgot that quiz games should be fun, quick and flashy if they are shooting for entertainment value or a way of keeping kids engaged. This game is long and drawn out and difficult and, sadly, boring.