November 18, 2009 - Now this is a little more like it. Up until now, the 200 Nintendo Point price range has been the dumping ground for DSiWare -- being able to download new games for just two dollars sounded promising, but the selection of titles available at that price has been just awful. Useless clock and calculator apps, generic sudoku packs and cut-up pieces of old first-party cartridge games have been the only things available there -- nothing to get excited about, at all.
Robot Rescue, though, is a little more like it. This is, finally, a full and compelling game design offered for just two bucks -- and you get a lot for your money. It's a tile-based puzzle game where, in the tradition of past classics like Adventures of Lolo, you have to guide a happy-go-lucky hero out of a set of perplexing mazes. Unlike Lolo, though, the robot needing rescue here isn't alone.
You control multiple machines simultaneously in Robot Rescue. Two, three, four or even as many as thirty different robots are under your command all at once, in each of the 45 different labyrinthine levels contained herein. You turn your DSi up on its side, to set up a "book style" view of each two-screen-wide stage. You assess the starting positions of your bots, planning your first move. Then you push a direction on the D-Pad -- up, down, left or right. And all the robots move in the way you chose, at the same time.
It's a simple concept that makes for a very fun, brainteasing experience for fans of logic puzzlers -- I admit that games like this are exactly my style, as coming up with a strategy of survival and then executing it flawlessly can be immensely satisfying. Robot Rescue is particularly rewarding in that way -- because you can't make any mistakes. One errant command or lapse of focus, and one or more of your bots is getting blown to bits.
That happens courtesy of the game's many obstacles and hazards. There are land mines that explode your bots on contact. There are exposed electrical wires that can fry their circuits. There are red and yellow doors that can switch on and off -- not dangerous by default, but if you accidentally press a switch while a bot's still standing in a doorway, slam. Crushed. Dead.
So you have to make skillful use of what little open space and unharmful walls are provided to you, in order to maneuver each machine into a safe position relative to all the other robots and get them to the exit. For example, you may have two robots moving to the right together, one tile at a time -- locked into the same synchronous rhythm. If you make one of them run into a wall, though, while the second still has open space in front of him, you can change their relative position -- input another "right" command and the guy already hitting the wall won't move, but his buddy will. You get the idea. Then throw conveyor belts, teleporters, glue spots on the floor and cloning devices into the mix and you've got quite an interesting puzzler indeed.
Robot Rescue has 45 different levels stretched across three difficulties -- you start off with 15 Easy, move on to 15 Medium and finish with 15 Hard. Those challenge ratings are on target, too -- the early going is very simple, as the first stages serve as tutorials to teach you the game. After that, though, you're on your own -- and it gets to be truly tough. You'll have at least a couple of hours' worth of puzzling out the solutions to all of the included levels here, and after that all 45 will be unlocked for free play. Which is nice, since several of the stages can be solved in different ways -- you can go back and try alternate strategies. (There's more than one way to rescue a robot.)
All together, Robot Rescue is an impressive package for just two bucks -- it's compelling, it looks good and it's highly rewarding when you figure out the solution to its particularly tough puzzles. It's also a great value at that price, offering two to three hours' worth of action for your 200 pennies. When you look again at the competition available at that same price level on DSiWare, it's no contest -- this is the first real, original game design to arrive at that price point. It finally feels like you're getting an actual game for once, and not just a sparkle enhancement for your system's camera, or some recycled chunk of an old WarioWare release.
So pick up Robot Rescue with my full recommendation, as I'd be shocked if anyone didn't feel like they got their money's worth here when it's just two dollars. The game, too, was based on an original PC design from a few year's back -- and there was also a Robot Rescue 2 created then, as well. So jump on here, toss a couple bucks toward publisher Teyon, and convince them to bring over that sequel as well -- because I want some more robots to rescue.
Check out some cool mazes
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