Prehistoric Safari (Magnavox Odyssey, 1972)

Prehistoric Safari: Sounds like thunder; tastes like chicken.Prehistoric Safari: Sounds like thunder; tastes like chicken.Shooting Gallery is an add-on for the Magnavox Odyssey. It comes with four games, each with its own Überlay. Three of the games use the included game cart #9 and the fourth uses #10. The add-on comes in its own box with a GUN! A realistic looking rifle type of gun that plugs right into a socket built into the Odyssey! This gun is the kind of "non-orange" fake gun that will get you seriously killed if you "playfully" aim it at an officer of the law. So, uh, DON'T do that, 'kay kids?

In Prehistoric Safari, you USE the GUN! You are the MIGHTY HUNTER! However, you've lost most of your ammunition in the volcano (see it on the uberlay?) so you only have 15 shots. After 15 shots you'd better get back to your own world, using whatever method got you there (time machine, submarine or tiny raft). PlayerTwo is just the assistant, whom we always call "Jim". Jim's job is to move the target light behind each of the hideous beasts from before time. The Hunter should attempt to obliterate only the beast behind which the light is sitting. Jim keeps the light still until the Hunter takes the shot, and then, hit or miss, 'ol Jim moves the light behind another creature that should not be! The player's roles are reversed after 15 shots, and the person with the most "kills" after one round wins the game.

There's a variation on the contest which involves the awarding of points for each foul creature destroyed--the "flying lizards" are worth the most--but we decided it was more fun to just blast away the critters in "cold blood" (heh, reptile joke) without doing any more math than counting backwards from 15.

The "flying lizards" (which is what the Odyssey manual calls them) are the toughest to hit. Truth be told, I am unable to hit them. I think that it is because there is such a tiny area letting the target light shine through the Überlay, that if one doesn't aim just right, the rifle doesn't detect the light and it is a miss.

I should mention what happens when one "hits" the TargetSpot. Quite simply, it merely disappears. However, you should feel free to instruct Jim to imitate the horrible convulsion noises and vocalizations of a huge dying beast to add to your satisfaction. When you reset the gun, by using its pump action, you're essentially activating what is the equivalent of the reset button on the normal controllers. This restores the light for further brutality.

It is possible to cheat by pointing and firing the gun at any other light source. The gun apparently reacts to any bright light including lightbulbs, other TVs showing the Odyssey, and especially, the sun of the world you call "earth". Again, the Odyssey doesn't keep score for you, but when you hit a bright target off-screen the little bright square on-screen does disappear. If your play-buddy isn't paying attention or is particularly slow-witted, you might convincingly cheat. This could probably be considered the first "cheat code", um, whatever a "cheat code" is.

Now where was I? Oh yeah, the flying lizards are hard to hit which leads me to the other creatures.

The other creatures are easy to hit, especially since they sit nice and still. Heh-heh. My son, at 7 years-old, wasn't able to do this shooting gallery game. I don't think he "got" the idea of lining up the gun sites to properly aim. At the time he also found the gun to be a little heavy. *sigh* I'll just have to teach him to kill virtual things with a lightergun from a later era (probably zombies on the Saturn).

The Odyssey Rifle does have a nice weight to it. It makes a very satisfying noise when fired and provides a great feeling of getting ready for one's next shot when pumped. Its only drawback is that it is a little cumbersome for a child to handle. However, one could argue that this is a Good Thing depending on one's feelings about fake guns and children playing with them. Regardless, I'm going to give a full point to the Odyssey for Prehistoric Safari. I could kill dinosaurs all day!

The Score: Ultraman 4, Odyssey 7.

Next entry, videogame homicide is created in Shootout!

Comments

Matt Barton
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Odyssey Rifle Games

Wow! I didn't even know there was a rifle lightgun available for this system. Or did I? I must have seen one at some point. It sounds like a MUCH higher quality unit than the typical one.

BTW, I'm a bit confused about the sound this rifle makes. Does the sound come from the rifle itself, from the console, or from the TV speaker?

You know, I'm a huge fan of the Big Buck Hunter Pro arcade game. I play it whenever I get the chance. It's tremendous fun in groups. I even found it for sale in a home version, though it's sadly far, far too expensive for me to even dream about owning.

I've probably put more quarters (or, rather, dollars) into these machines than any other.

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Bill Loguidice
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Odyssey and Big Buck Hunter
Matt Barton wrote:

Wow! I didn't even know there was a rifle lightgun available for this system. Or did I? I must have seen one at some point. It sounds like a MUCH higher quality unit than the typical one.

The light gun was optional. It's actually almost as expensive as the system itself if you try to acquire one today. The original brown box prototype featured it. It's higher quality only in regards to aesthetics...

Matt Barton wrote:

BTW, I'm a bit confused about the sound this rifle makes. Does the sound come from the rifle itself, from the console, or from the TV speaker?

It's still the same Odyssey. ;-) No sound capability whatsoever, no scorekeeping capability, limited abilities period.

Matt Barton wrote:

You know, I'm a huge fan of the Big Buck Hunter Pro arcade game. I play it whenever I get the chance. It's tremendous fun in groups. I even found it for sale in a home version, though it's sadly far, far too expensive for me to even dream about owning.

I've probably put more quarters (or, rather, dollars) into these machines than any other.

I'm a big fan of light gun games and have acquired quite a few guns and games for various systems. I've never had a chance to try Big Buck Hunter Pro myself, though. That home system looks tremendous, though for five grand, it seems rather much for just the single game.

======================================
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
(A PC Magazine Top 100 Website)
======================================

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Michael McCourt
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Joined: 01/17/2007
A clarification of sorts
Matt Barton wrote:

Wow! I didn't even know there was a rifle lightgun available for this system. Or did I? I must have seen one at some point. It sounds like a MUCH higher quality unit than the typical one.

BTW, I'm a bit confused about the sound this rifle makes. Does the sound come from the rifle itself, from the console, or from the TV speaker?

Ya know, Matt, my weak use of the word "noise", as in "very satisfying noise" and my reference to the Ray Bradbury short story "A Sound of Thunder" has probably caused readers to conjure up in their minds a rather thunderous retort for the Odyssey Rifle. I'm sorry, that was not the impression I had intended to give. Instead of the vague word "noise" I should have used one of those words that are meant to sound similar to the sound which they describe. In this case, I probably should have said "a very satisfying 'thunk'" or "a very satisfying 'click'" or, at the very least, I probably should have said "a very satisfying noise, but not more than one would expect from a fake gun with no ability to produce any sounds other than mechanical". Sorry about that. It's been a while since I've had the gun out. I mentioned it to my son tonight (who is now nine years old) and he was excited enough about it to want to give the gun games another try this week. I'll take a picture of him using it for a subsequent Shooting Gallery entry to give you an idea of its size and the pump action.

As far as its quality goes, I'd say that for a plain 'ol toy gun, this is a nice gun. As a light gun, it looks and feels good, but its accuracy isn't great and it is best used in a dimly lit room fairly close to the TV screen.

davyK
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Joined: 05/21/2006
I'm puzzled by the comment

I'm puzzled by the comment "Jim keeps the light still until the Hunter takes the shot, and then, hit or miss, 'ol Jim moves the light behind another creature that should not be! "

What does that mean - the player picks a target that should not be hit? I don't see the sense in that.

There's nothing like a good gun game - I have both Virtua Cops for the Saturn along with the enjoyable Mighty Hits and I also have the excellent House of the Dead 2 for Dreamcast. ( I have 2 guns for each console for some 2 player action with these games which really helps the playabilty). These games are only really good for a short burst though - holding the gun at arm's length and closing one eye to sight up isn't the most comfortable of positions!

I have even got an old pong console with a gun control which has 2 basic "shoot the moving spot" games but as with the Odyssey the gun is too easily fooled into scoring a hit.

Matt Barton
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The Problem with Guns
davyK wrote:

I'm puzzled by the comment "Jim keeps the light still until the Hunter takes the shot, and then, hit or miss, 'ol Jim moves the light behind another creature that should not be! "

What does that mean - the player picks a target that should not be hit? I don't see the sense in that.

I took this to mean "another creature that should not be left alive." :-)

I do agree about gun games. Definitely only fun in small bouts. That's one reason I wouldn't ever buy that Big Buck Hunter Pro arcade game, or even one of those light guns. I just don't see myself using one of those except every so often. My guess is that I'd get that BBHP game home, play it hard for the first few days, then 3-4 times a week, and pretty soon only when people are over and want to boot it up. Gun games just don't seem to have lasting appeal.

I know Bill has a gun for his arcade at home. How often do you end up using it, Bill?

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Bill Loguidice
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Lost World and Guns
Matt Barton wrote:
davyK wrote:

I'm puzzled by the comment "Jim keeps the light still until the Hunter takes the shot, and then, hit or miss, 'ol Jim moves the light behind another creature that should not be! "

What does that mean - the player picks a target that should not be hit? I don't see the sense in that.

I took this to mean "another creature that should not be left alive." :-)

Nah! I took it to mean "a creature that shouldn't exist in the modern world." Kind of like a spoof on "Lost World". Very clever wording, actually.

Matt Barton wrote:

I do agree about gun games. Definitely only fun in small bouts. That's one reason I wouldn't ever buy that Big Buck Hunter Pro arcade game, or even one of those light guns. I just don't see myself using one of those except every so often. My guess is that I'd get that BBHP game home, play it hard for the first few days, then 3-4 times a week, and pretty soon only when people are over and want to boot it up. Gun games just don't seem to have lasting appeal.

I know Bill has a gun for his arcade at home. How often do you end up using it, Bill?

I don't end up using it much because it's not entirely accurate with all the gun compatible games. I have several other guns for several other systems, but again, it's usually something of a hassle to make use of controls that are not "standard".

======================================
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
(A PC Magazine Top 100 Website)
======================================

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Michael McCourt
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Joined: 01/17/2007
It's a hubris thing . . .
davyK wrote:

I'm puzzled by the comment "Jim keeps the light still until the Hunter takes the shot, and then, hit or miss, 'ol Jim moves the light behind another creature that should not be! "

What does that mean - the player picks a target that should not be hit? I don't see the sense in that.

Well of course! You're reading it without the italics!

Bill and Matt are each right, both in the sense that each "rightfully extinct" creature needs to be dead by our powerful hands and because such creatures have no business existing alongside man. One theme encountered often in material covering "men meet dinosaurs" is man's continued sense of "world dominence/lack-of-awe-before-nature" attitude, despite being in the presense of ancient lifeforms which clearly outclass him physically. I remember seeing a movie called "The Last Dinosaur" about some digging machine that stumbles upon a hidden valley where there happens to be dinosaurs and one of them happens to be a T-Rex. The millionaire "leader" of the expedition is a hunter and decides that "that thing is the last!" and of course, that means he needs to be the only person in the world to ever kill a T-Rex. I don't remember, but I'm sure it ends badly for him.

I can easily imagine a group of fictional human characters who may accidentally travel back in time, and, once back there, would be so arrogant as to fail to recognize that they themselves are the intruders and instead think all of the prehistoric freaks as "wrong" in some way. After a few beers, they're suddenly acting like jackasses and killing things, probably intending to post the video of it on YouTube when they get back to the future.

The whole premise of Prehistoric Safari. "wouldn't it be swell to travel back in time and kill dinosaurs?", strikes me as pretty funny. If it were a matter of our survival, sure, but on safari? Just for the hell of it? I mean, look at the overlay. There's a herbivore in the lake feeding its young and it's got a target on it! I laugh out loud just thinking about it.

The phrase "should not be" is a direct lift from a Simpson's episode where a parrot with octopus legs, aware that he is an abomination of nature, squawks "I should not be! I should not be!"

davyK
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I apologise for all my

I apologise for all my shortcomings.

=)

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