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  opened by paleface at 03:00:31 02/21/06  
  last modified by paleface at 05:11:04 02/26/06  
  paleface [sys=PSP; cat=Puzzle; loc=NA]
Very slick, very clever action-puzzle-platformer from Taito. Your rescue expert goes around to burning buildings, locating trapped people and guiding them to safety through various obstacles such as fires, holes, and short time limits.
While it looks like an action game at first, with your slick cel-shading-esque character moving along platforms in a lush 2D-in-3D environment, you quickly find that your character moves very slowly. In fact he does everything pretty slowly. Also, it's very easy to do something incorrect, and end up stuck. So you have to do things in a very specific order to get through the stages, and this means, at least for me, trial and error, and restarting the level multiple times until I've got it all worked out, and can execute it without a bad screwup.
I suppose that doesn't sound very fun, but it is, as a mental challenge. And it helps that the sights and sounds are very well done. The animation of the stylized stick-figure characters is very smooth, everything looks very slick, and the sounds and music are top notch, although there are perhaps a few annoying alarm type sounds here and there.
The AI makes things interesting, too. The "Companions" you're trying to rescue aren't just simple follow-the-leader NPCs, exactly. Moving the analog stick calls up a pointer, and with this you can direct the Companions to move to specific places, pick up and use tools, activate buttons, and so forth. So, naturally, many of the stages require you to move your own character through a certain series of steps, while simultaneously moving the Companion(s) through some other steps, in order to effect everyone's escape from the burning building. Oh, and the AI come in different types, with different abilities. Young Adults can move nearly anywhere you can. Adults are slower, and can't get up ledges without assistance, but they can move large objects. Kids need a lot of help getting around, but they can fit through narrow spaces. Patients have to be carried; fortunately you may find a gurney which speeds up moving their gimpy asses around. And all the while these people are complaining about being scared, or needing a shower. There aren't that many voice clips, and they get a little repetitive.
Loading times, on the other hand, are quite brisk, and on the whole the game seems very well put together, with a quick, easy-to-read, stylish interface, and carefully balanced puzzles.
They did a good job with the PSP's network capabilities. From the main menu, you can select a network option that will open the PSP's web browser right on Taito's download web page, where they're releasing additional levels for the game. Once downloaded, you can pop right back into the game, load up the new levels off your memory card, and go right at 'em. Very slick. The game comes with 100 levels stock, I think, and it looks like they'll be releasing at least three level packs. The first is out, and contains 10 levels. While the first of the 100 levels are quite easy, they don't take that long to start getting tricky (requiring several restarts on my part), and I jumped ahead and found one of the later stages pretty challenging, requiring not only far-ahead planning on moving the Companion, but also pinpoint timing on running a gauntlet of conveyor belts, then planning several steps ahead in maneuvering crates across said belts.

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