Nat Geo: America the Wild Review

Nat Geo: America the Wild (Available only on Kinect for Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Genre: Television Programming
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Relentless Software
Release Date: September 18th, 2012

I know you all love it when we mix up the review format, but for a “game” like this I’ve got not choice. You see, Nat Geo: America the Wild isn’t a videogame, sure it might have some mini-games and interactive features, but the truth is this is a two-disc compilation of the interactive on-demand programming available via the Nat Geo app on Xbox Live. This package include a one year season pass that grants viewers more access to episodes online than the eight featured on the discs. If these episodes tickle your fancy there are other series available including Sharks, World’s Weirdest, etc. If you’d like to demo the app, you can download it for free from the Xbox Live Marketplace and try a complimentary episode at no additional charge. Individual episodes can be purchased for 400 MS points, and the season pass can be yours for 2,400 MS points.

Let’s get back to the package at hand though. The compilation includes four episodes on each disc. They’re hosted by Casey Anderson and teach you all about the animal the episodes are based on. You will learn about the black bear, wolverine, mountain lion, etc. Each episode lasts about thirty minutes and encourages viewers to join in by completing a variety of tasks from taking pictures to following sidetracks. To do this, while watching the episodes you will see a notification appear on the screen telling you what to do. Either yell “snap” to take a picture or “tracks” to veer off into a sidetrack for further information on the animal you’re currently learning about.

Each episode also includes different mini-games, which superimpose the animal’s habitat in your living room. Your face and hands get covered to look like said animal, and you go around bashing things a la Fruit Ninja. Essentially, think of objects flying around the screen, and you need to smash them with your fury mitts. Players are given a medal based on their performance, and young ones will likely have to play the episodes multiple times in order to get a gold medal in each game.

That’s all she wrote for this compilation. It’s an interesting package, highlighting what is a really unique way to get children to learn more about the animal world. While the app is a digital-only service, it’s nice to see Microsoft package some real value into this compilation. Coming in at only $29.99 for eight episodes is a really good deal and will likely convince more people to jump on-board. If you have children at home, I highly recommend giving this one a buy, it’s well worth it just for the season pass alone.

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