Review: Exit DS

EXIT DS Box Art.jpg Originally released in early 2006 for the PSP, Exit has already seen a sequel and release on XBOX Live Arcade before finally landing on the Nintendo DS. Looking at the box or any of the screens online will have you thinking this is an action-platform game, but in reality it is a puzzle game that plays out in real-time as a 2D platformer. Confused? Don’t worry – I’ll clear everything up, including whether or not this game is still worth buying nearly three years after the initial release.

The goal of Exit is pretty simple: you play as Mr Esc, an ‘escapologist’ who is fast moving and quick-witted and able to escape just about any situation. He takes great pleasure in helping people escape from burning buildings or other harrowing situations. To do this you need to guide the people (and dogs) through a large array of hazards including jumps, ladders, tunnels, and so on. To do this you need to show them the way – and they will follow you to the best of their ability.

That is another excellent thing: the various characters each have differing abilities: some move faster or can crawl through tight spaces, others are strong and can help move obstacles. Working with all of these differences is critical to completing each level.

I know I won’t surprise anyone with this, but the DS version of Exit looks and sounds noticeably worse than the PSP version. Before you derisively say ‘no duh’ (OK, too much time with my ‘tween’ kids and their friends over the holidays!), to me the goal of a DS version should be to integrate the graphics and gameplay in such a way that you don’t ever notice them. A great example is Tom Clancy’s End War: the PSP definitely had better graphics, but the DS used the touch screen and stylus control to such an advantage that I never noticed. With Exit, if you have played any of the other versions you WILL notice.

One thing that is quite noticeable is that you see considerably less of the screen, but this is addressed by having the top screen used as an area map. Also, the control differences directly impact gameplay: the PSP required you to play the game more like a precision platformer, but the DS uses the touch-screen and a more indirect system of control that allows you to spend more time failing because you didn’t complete the challenge rather than failing because you missed a jump.

There are more than 100 puzzles, many of which take ten minutes or more to complete (much longer if you have to retry them as often as I do), making this a tremendous value for the money. However, since the DS version of Exit brings nothing new to the game, it is recommended only if you have missed this game (and its’ sequel) on the PSP or XBLA. If you played the PSP version and got frustrated by the precision platforming required, this might provide a good second-chance at a fun action-packed puzzle game.

TryIt.jpg

Pros:
+ Nice use of touchscreen
+ Challenging puzzles
+ Tons of gameplay

Cons:
– Frustrating amount of ‘die and retry’
– Graphics and sounds inferior to PSP version

Game Info:
Platform: DS
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Taito
Release Date: 11/04/08
Genre: Puzzle
ESRB Rating: E
Players: 1
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

About the Author

I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!