GoNintendo 'End of Day' thought - escapeVektor review by NintenDaan
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Glad to be back in the swing of EoD thought posts. Comcast finally decided to give me my late night internet back! That means I get to post up this review from NintenDaan, which he sent over a couple weeks back. Please enjoy! See you in a few, short hours.
escapeVektor Chapter One was one of last great WiiWare releases, which I played way back in September 2011. It spoke hope for the future of the service, which was really on its final legs. While it never became the big final WiiWare endeavor we all wanted, escapeVektor for the Nintendo 3DS features everything developer Nnooo had hoped for. I was glad to return to guide Vektor once more and this time I was not going to experience a taste, but a full journey.
For the people unaware about the game's story, let me make it brief without giving too many plot elements away. In the first of four chapters in the game, you get to know the character of Vektor, which is this unknown entity stuck in the very core of the 3DS' CPU. In the beginning the story seems vague, and you have to build trust and help him. He doesn't have many memories of his previous endeavors, but along the way he gets constant flashbacks and tries to understand the extend of the situation. You really feel like you get to know who Vektor exactly is, and that is certainly something that keeps you going. The help is certainly appreciated, as CPU follows every move you both make very closely and wants to stop you badly. The story isn't here for fluff, as it is an integral part of the experience and provides for some heartfelt moments. It is presented in a simple manner with big portions of text, but it is written in a way that keeps the player involved.
If you think however that the game is going to be cakewalk, you should think it all through more carefully. The gameplay towards the beginning is simple enough as you grind along the lines on the screen using the Circle Pad, try to fill up the cells in a level and avoid enemies to the best of your possibilities. Players who are familiar with classics as Qix and Pac-Man should feel right at home and it feels a lot like a beefed up version of those arcade classics. Once you fill up the entirety of a level the exit will appear and you can consider another step towards the end goal completed. The CPU army is however getting more powerful with every level passing, so Vektor must use his hacking skills and try to find possibilities to defend ourselves against the big threat ahead. Almost direct after the introduction, you will learn how to Detonate. To use this form of attack, you will have to first completely border a cell and acquire a pip on the dedicated bar. Once done, the player uses a shockwave to destroy enemies in a certain range. You will also learn Boost, which is of course a faster for traveling around the playing field. Depending on how much you level up Vektor, his range with Detonate comes bigger and the boost can be used more often. Further along you will able to use more new exciting moves, which change up the gameplay in some interesting ways.
Progressing through the adventure is pretty straight forward, as you choose the level you want to play from a big map screen. This gives the game once again a nostalgic feel and just like those old times, you can finish some levels in more ways than one. It is more satisfying to see everything the game has to offer of course, but by completing additional portions, you are treated to more challenging levels. These challenges can be just hard an extra hard encounter, but also brand new Timed and Eraser versions. Timed levels require the player to escape before the time runs out, while the Eraser levels ask for an additional requirement. You can't cross the small lines twice, as they will disappear and make your job way harder. These additional types remain mostly optional throughout adventure, but if you manage to beat them, you will be able to new passage ways to later zones in the game. You will be jumping with big leaps though, so please aware that you will be skipping some stuff that will ease you more in.
The game in total features 150 levels, which are spread over 27 zones and will certainly take you a while to complete. Beyond this though, there are many things that can keep you going for a very long time. escapeVektor has various badges to collect, which will pop up by achieving some grand feats. This concerns beating a certain amounts of enemies, reaching upgrade points and levels and filling in cells on a big scale. There are also medals to be won on every level, by completing and perfecting levels now and again. More importantly though, is how highscore really matters in this version of escapeVektor. In the original WiiWare release, you could go back again and again to do certain sections better, but beyond reaching the medals this felt a bit flat. On the Nintendo 3DS, the game now has full featured leaderboards for every level, in which you can compete against friends or others across your country and the world. This gives the game tons of replay value and it makes for a perfect game to play for a couple minutes and be satisfied.
Are there things that irked me about escapeVektor? I felt that the standard view was a bit too much zoomed in for its own good. There is a very simple solution to this though, as you can hold R-button and get a better overview of the area. This isn't ideal, as you constantly have your finger stuck on the spot, but it isn't majorly game breaking. There were also just a couple of times, were I felt that the enemy placement wasn't the greatest. Sure, this makes a challenge and rewards paying attention a little more, but I seriously felt that the respawn points of the CPU army made for some pretty easy deaths. When you are at the end of a level and die, this is frustrating and a shame no matter how hard you try to ignore it.
From a visual perspective, the games looks brilliant on the screens of the Nintendo 3DS. The color pallets and cyberspace filled background shine really well, with both screens forming one sole experience. 3D visuals are also supported, and I can't stress enough how everything popped on my 3DS XL. Add to this a very trippy soundtrack, which makes you want to download them to your MP3 player of choice almost instantly. The electronic music also adds layers when enemies are close by, which is a surprisingly big help in the harder spots in escapeVektor and makes your head bop at the exact same time.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I adored escapeVektor through and through. Yes, there are some smaller issues, but they don't hold much significance in the end product. With tight controls and a style that many will enjoy, it is hard to ignore the game for the great price tag that the developers decided to charge. It tells the heartfelt story of a mysterious entity, which you will learn to love in a packed 150 level adventure. Even after the fact, you are never done, as you can continue with the many trinkets the game offers. As a journey it is feels whole, however as a pick and up game it feels complete. If you are fan of the games in the yesteryear, you owe it to yourself to give it a go at the very least. escapeVektor is the very definition of making arcade-style games, feel fresh in the weirdest of manners.