Safari Party, developed by PIXOWL, Inc., is a universal puzzle/arcade app featuring cartoon animals and people drawn by a well-known French cartoonist and blogger, Laurel. To clear each level, players must move the animal icons around the screen to make groups of four. Once groups of four are formed, players may tap the groups to make them break up and disappear (think Bejewled Blitz). A certain number of animal groups must be cleared in the time allotted to pass each level, getting more difficult as players progress. There are several modes of gameplay: Arcade, Speed, Expert, Zen, and Multiplayer (recently added).
Despite the cute, cartoonish animals and their colorful habitats, the gameplay of Safari Party is actually quite challenging. My son (age seven) had no problem clearing the first five or so levels, but it took multiple attempts for him to go any higher. Because each level is timed, this app is fast-paced and exciting but may be a little stressful for some, too. Players can keep track of how many animal groups they have collected by looking at the tally at the top right of the screen and can also watch the timer scroll as it is visible along the bottom of the screen. Animals start to shake when the time is close to running out, however, as long as new groups of four are still being formed, extra time will be added to the clock. It is also possible to earn special achievements and “cheats,” which will help players to clear each level. Players can also shake their devices to scramble the order of the animals on the screen, so that more matches can be located in time.
Safari Party is one of the few apps that not only attracted the attention of my two kids and myself, but also caught the interest of my husband, who finds the app to be quite addictive. As both of us are former fans of Bejewled Blitz on Facebook, it is no surprise that we also like Safari Party. My husband and I take turns playing, competing with one another to progress to a higher level. I also play the app in a cooperative way with my son, as we help each other identify and group the animals. He particularly likes the look of the animals and their habitats.
The only criticism that I have of Safari Party is that when each level is cleared, a cartoon of a woman shows up on the screen to congratulate players, and I find them to be somewhat stereotypical in appearance. These women are wearing outfits meant to go along with each animal habitat, ie: Jungle-wear, Mermaid-wear, etc, and while each of them is pretty and appealing, one is drawn with cleavage showing, which I feel could have been avoided, as this is a children’s game. All in all, Safari Party is a charming and challenging app for ages 6 and up.