Escape the Virus: Shoot 'Em Up!
DSiWare | Teyon / FUN UNIT / Peakvox | 1 Player | Out Now | 200 Nintendo Points
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5th September 2012; By KnucklesSonic8
Without its key accessory, a snowplow machine wouldn't accomplish much good. I mean, sure, if you care little for sloppy outcomes, then I suppose you could get along fine, but I don't think your employer would be pleased with such a report. Now, I'm all for well-trimmed execution, and balance does play a large part in how simple concepts are weighted. Without an attachment of luster, depth, and/or visual dynamics to bring such material to life, you'd better hope there's some intrinsic value and strength at the base of the construction. Accordingly, I did have initial concerns that Escape the Virus: Shoot 'Em Up! would be more of an expansion than a completely new take, but I didn't expect the game to, in fact, be neither of the two. With similarly haphazard results as that ill-equipped snow plow, Escape the Virus: Shoot 'Em Up! is a step down from Swarm Survival. And because it lacks much in the way of meaningfulness, placing any kind of hope in this flat piece of software is only bound to lead to disappointment.
The idea at work here is to guide a small one-eyed creature around a confined space, using missiles that automatically fire from its front to clear forms of bacteria. Also making sure to pick up their remains as a source of food (and points), the difference between this title and the last is that no status effects are produced as a result of this collection process. Simple in form, it's a matter of seeing how long you can last as things get less and less comfortable. Particularly on the subject of control and maneuverability, Escape the Virus: Shoot 'Em Up! isn't a very user-friendly experience. The D-Pad is not an intuitive method of control at all in this scenario, a point that becomes clear before two minutes have even gone by. The stylus, on the other hand, offers greater control and changes in pace for the character's movements, thus allowing you to better accommodate the mob of enemies that protest strongly against your presence. However, the maintenance involved in trying to find your way through all of this isn't such that it produces good feelings within participating players.
As if the game were purposely trying to shoo you away, it doesn't take very long at all before you have an entire takeover on your hands with what enemies numbering in what looks like the hundred range. It's nice that you don't have to worry about re-supplying your stock of missiles or even having to hold down a button to transmit these out in front of you. But as per the survival theme, each enemy you defeat will cause another batch to appear in its place. To the game's undoing, it quickly gets to a point where the speed at which the bacteria respawn becomes a turn-off, and then the only way to keep living is by relying on power-ups. The effect produced by these items certainly makes a difference in clearing the air, as it were, but this is really just a short reprieve before you're faced with the same scenario and then have to deal with enemies appearing at an even faster rate than before.
As is, the game is very simple-minded in that respect, but the whole situation surrounding the use of power-ups is such that it becomes an added downfall to the game. Seldom do power-ups show up at all and when they do appear, it's often when you have a really, really small amount of breathing room available to make your way over to them. And that's the other thing: Just finding the power-ups is like a game of Where's Waldo, but with little clarity or time to even track 'em down when they're not in your immediate vicinity. Moreover, those times when you just barely make it out alive aren't met with satisfaction, and with a space that regularly says "Get back to work!" as you try to sort through everything, the picture the game paints is one of a losing battle that shouldn't be attempted.
As a variant to the main gameplay option, Territory Mode is still very much in keeping with the overall theme, just on slightly different, perhaps more sensible terms. The objective here is to build energy inside black holes that appear on the field, doing so by putting yourself right in the middle of the force. While at the same time using your missiles to repel incoming threats, filling up a black hole with energy will produce a contained explosion that will suck in any nearby enemies so you can earn points. There's a bit of strategy involved in not completely destroying every enemy that comes your way as doing so would cause you to miss out on bigger point totals when this burst is triggered. To tell the truth, though, it's an idea that doesn't play out all that well, because with the exception of power-ups appearing on a more common basis, the connected variables are largely decided for you, thus leaving you with relatively little control over how to manipulate the space to your advantage. Despite that, I have to say I didn't feel the game was as bland when participating under these conditions, albeit it still doesn't function as a redeeming quality to the overall package.
In a case similar to what was seen in its predecessor, Escape the Virus: Shoot 'Em Up! attempts to harness the silliness associated with the music and the character itself to add some sort of dimension to the gameplay. But if they really were bent on doing so, it's clear they missed the mark as not only is the game itself not hyper enough to facilitate this wackiness, but this in no way puts you in a better mood to put up with the troubles surrounding the execution. Added onto that, the framerate can get dreadfully bad in places especially when relying on the overhead view (activated by holding down L or R), as you're often forced to do.
Even with the minimalistic approach of having few elements to crowd out the emphasis on tight circumstances, there's something rather pathetic about the way everything is presented. It's not that it's terribly messy from an aesthetic point of view, but the design is far from well-tweaked. Once again, just like the game's relative, there's an underlying emptiness that would on its own push you away but becomes amplified that much further as the problems quickly become apparent. And it's not even that there are so many issues either. It's just a few seemingly minor things that, when put together with an already weak premise, lead to an entire collapse of intent.
Sharing similar weaknesses as the title that came before it, Escape the Virus: Shoot 'Em Up! is a pretty worthless effort with many of its problems stemming from its obvious absence of depth and the lack of contributions towards a stronger gameplay environment. Putting players in a flawed territorial space, what's bothersome is the whole principle of being asked to manage something that should be merely observed, if that. It's truly incomprehensible how anyone could see this as supplying a jolt of stimulation, and with the accompanying design not doing a great deal of motivating towards such ends, it's best just to keep your distance.
13/30 - Very Poor
Gameplay 5/10 - A simple concept that's not supported very well by its design, controls aren't that intuitive, multiple problems with the core variables
Presentation 5/10 - Framerate issues can get severe at times, same approach of silliness as before but doesn't help the game all that much
Enjoyment 1/5 - Very little to the construction, dull to play just like the previous title, design issues become a turn-off, overall flat execution
Extra Content 2/5 - Territory Mode is a bit better but by no means a redeeming feature, most won't see the improving of high scores as a rewarding goal
Equivalent to a score of 43% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System