Go! Go! Island Rescue
DSiWare | Connect2Media | 1 Player | Out Now | 500 Nintendo Points
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19th January 2011; By KnucklesSonic8
In the game, players take control of a Rescue Squad of firemen who have the responsibility of protecting the island's civilians from danger. Known in the game as "Darwins", these vulnerable fellows come in multiple forms: timid boys, girls who behave in a stereotypical boy-crazy manner, fun-loving babies, and cool-looking dudes who think they're "all that". What sorts of dangerous situations could these folk find themselves in? Well between fire enemies, encroaching flames, high heights and hyperactive robots, one could say they're helpless against these forces! Thankfully, this is where you and your team of fearless firemen come in.
The idea of the game is to get all of the Darwins in each stage to the green exit door without having them die on you. In taking control of the situation, you can pick up Darwins and throw them towards the path that leads to safety. Or, you can toss fire extinguishers over to stable patches of fire to eliminate the hazard. Each character exhibits different behaviours that must be taken into consideration. Screebs, for example, are very fast on their feet and will constantly run off the edges of platforms over being so excited. Baby Dwibblers can fall from any height without being damaged, plus they will instinctively crawl along the path of nearby milk bottles. Of course these character differences force you to pay keen attention in later levels, but they also help Go! Go! Island Rescue develop its own sense of personality.
Go! Go! Island Rescue can be played using either the D-Pad or the stylus, with the latter method giving you the choice of tapping hot keys off in the corners of the touch screen. Movement is controlled by the player using either one of those two control options, with a double press or tap switching the direction your fireman is facing. In some stages, you'll have multiple hands to carry the load, and using the L and R Triggers, you can switch between the different firemen present on the scene. When players pick up an item, they'll have the option of pressing A to toss it in a specific direction or set it down with the B Button. If you're looking to toss items with the use of the stylus, you'll need to tap and hold the thought bubble that shows the tossing animation and slowly move the tool up and down as you shoot for a suitable arch. Considering that using the stylus isn't always fluid with this animation, I figure just about everyone will prefer the reliable D-Pad.
In aiming your throw, you'll notice green and red colours used interchangeably to highlight how effective or deadly your trajectory is respectively. Things won't always work out the way you intended, and you're sure to make lots of mistakes along the way, being the cause of many deaths. When a Darwin dies, a Grim Reaper cartoon will appear on the top-right of the screen to emphasize the consequences of your decision. Thankfully, you have not one, but multiple second chance opportunities made available to you through the Rewind feature. Depending on how quickly you act after making a grave error and the amount of times you make use of this ability, you'll get to go back in time a few seconds to the time when the Darwin you just killed was still alive. Again, because of those variables, sometimes you won't get the chance to save a civilian and will just have to start over.
Simply by planning your actions beforehand, one can avoid such an ordeal altogether. Pressing the X Button (or tapping the Eye icon) allows you to change the camera view, allowing you to get a better look at another area in the stage. You can also press Select for a zoomed-out overview of the entire level map, which does come in handy for the more complex puzzles. Sadly this causes the game to run at a slower speed, and with the clock running at the same speed, no less. And so, it should only be used sparingly.
The main island setting consists of four individual sectors. An air traffic control center called the 'Darwin International Exchange', a tourist attraction known as the 'Go to Sea Hotel', the serene 'Sun Over Beach', and a sensitive volcano known as 'Mount Torchy'. Players will start off experiencing simple-natured puzzles as they work their way up to the more challenging stages. In visiting the first area, the game does a great job of explaining the controls through straight-forward, well-handled Lesson stages. From there, you can advance to the other 17 stages in this district as you work towards unlocking the next set of stages.
Go! Go! Island Rescue does a good job of introducing new elements at a fairly regular rate. Beyond the halfway mark in your progress, nitro-filled bottles are added allowing you to destroy blocks of concrete. The same destructive element can be used to eliminate the meddlesome robotic waiters who charge after you when you cross their line of eyesight. Mattresses and pillows are also added into the mix staying true to the simulated fireman rescue experience. It's at this point that the game becomes even more fun to play.
In line with the development of variety, each area also has a handful of special stages that break free from the mold of the normal stages. Panic Room stages have you racing against the clock to get a single Darwin over to the exit as a deadly wall of fire moves toward you from the left of the screen. In Disaster Challenges, your objective is to throw Darwins down below to the bottom of the stage where a stretcher-equipped medic team is ready to escort them to safety. These missions were enjoyable, too. And finally, Bonus Levels have you going against your moral code as a firefighter, helping the hospital by purposely injuring Darwins so they become patients in need. I'll be the first to admit that it is a bit questionable, but at the same time, I think the developers did a great job with these funny missions.
Probably the most commendable aspect of Go! Go! Island Rescue is its level of appeal. As touched on earlier, this game has a lot of personality to it, mostly because of the characters you're sworn to protect. A lot of humour has been incorporated into the experience even in such simple areas as the names of each puzzle. Seeing a baby Dwibbler shake a bottle of nitro and cause a massive amount of destruction without getting injured is a hilarious sight.
Presentation values are pretty good here. The music is mostly nice to listen to with much of it sounding well-suited to the tropical nature of the island setting. The visuals and colours used in the game are nice to look at, albeit they've evidently been tailored to younger audiences. Either way, gameplay is enjoyable for both young and old.
Content-wise, it's great value for only $5. Even beyond just clearing all of the 50+ puzzles, you can also aim for Gold Medals by not using any Rewinds in each stage. But you know, I really appreciated the level designs in the last two districts. They were surprisingly really clever! Some of them boil down to trial and error, but that makes them more satisfying to figure out.
All in all, Go! Go! Island Rescue is a great puzzle-platformer for the DSiWare service. It exceeds expectations and successfully manages to keep players entertained and even provide a measure of challenge to boot. Perhaps most notably, the level of humour and personality do much to make the game a memorable experience. If you typically enjoy games of this nature, this is a great buy that's more than pleasing.
25/30 - Very Good
Gameplay 8/10 - Fun concept that plays well, D-Pad controls work the best, additional challenges keep the game from becoming dull
Presentation 8/10 - Pleasant music, appealing graphic style, contains a notable amount of personality and charm, even humorous at times
Enjoyment 4/5 - The last two sets of puzzles feature clever solutions, fun for younger and older gamers alike, surprisingly challenging
Extra Content 5/5 - Lots of missions to complete, great value for only $5, Gold Medals keep players coming back for more
Equivalent to a score of 83% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)