Hunting Mania
| Hunting Mania

I’ve been back and forth on how to start this review, as an hour behind the rifle sights in Hunting Mania made me acutely aware of a certain double standard in my thinking - one that many of you no doubt share.

When it comes to games, I have absolutely no problem shooting pretend people. Admittedly, they generally have a gun and are pretending to shoot me back, but if we’re at all concerned with real-life attitudes or desensitisation, surely a game where you shoot wild boar is far less psychologically damaging than being proud of yourself for pulling off ten head shots in a row on the beaches at Normandy.

But what can I say? Shooting ducks and bucks seems far more distasteful to a misanthrope such as myself than gunning down an entire army of fellow humans. At the same time, Hunting Mania is really just an update on the classic Nintendo game (and saviour of the video game industry), Duck Hunt, so I really have no room to complain.

I suppose the point I'm making is that pocket gamers of a similar animal friendly/human unfriendly disposition should attempt to shelve such opinions so they don't miss out on what is actually a quality shooter.

Your task is a simple one. The game warden is retiring, and you need to prove your skills with a rifle in order to take his place. This could mean killing a certain number of wild boar within a time limit, or bringing yourself up to a suitable standard on the rifle range.

The game calls for good timing. The animals never stay still, while the sights are always wavering slightly, and taking into account your reload time means pulling the trigger at exactly the right moment. Send off random shots into the woodland and you'll spook the animals, forcing you to jump in your truck and move to the next location to meet your quota - all of which takes up valuable time.

Graphically, Hunting Mania is impressively realistic, with a parallax scrolling system offering you different difficulties of shot as the animals get further away. The variety of missions also keeps the game fresh, even though much of the experience is focused around the hunting aspects.

As objectionable as it might sound, shooting these pretend animals gets much easier within a few minutes of realising that Hunting Mania is a well made and entertaining game, though it is a feeling that’s hard to shake and makes it very difficult to be proud of your achievements.

Let's just hope Shadow Light Games brings out an alternative version, with soldiers or zombies or aliens as the rifle fodder. In the meantime, Hunting Mania serves as slick and accessible target practice, so don't overlook it for want of getting on Michaela Strachan's good side.

Hunting Mania

Although the notion of hunting virtual animals is not an easy one to put aside, shortening your vision to the end of the rifle barrel allows you to see an elegant and genial game that updates the carnival shooting range concept in superb style