escapeVektor: Chapter 1 Review

Nnooo Studios, known for DSiWare apps like myNotebook, delivers one of WiiWare’s finest titles of the year.

By Evan Campbell. Posted 10/06/2011 16:00 1 Comment     ShareThis
The Final Grade
Editor's Choice
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Addicting game design; sharp and strong visual aesthetic; sweet beats; and responsive controls.
Poison Mushroom for...
Slow start and zooming-out camera annoyance.

escapeVektor: Chapter 1 splashes bright colors and sweet beats on top of a Pac-Man-style game mechanic to create a WiiWare standout.

The $5 title from Nnooo Studios puts players in control of a V-shaped icon that traces over rectangles within a maze-like graph to escape a level. But it’s no walk in the park with various enemies patrolling the lines and others hot on your trail. There are touch-activated laser fences and gun turrets to avoid, too.

This simple but addictive design starts at a plodding pace in escapeVektor: Chapter 1. Nnooo wants to slowly guide players into the visually appealing and abstract world. The developer does so with aplomb, though the title doesn’t really grab your attention until the boost ability is unlocked. The power allows users to speed up while maneuvering the lines, adding a much-welcomed upbeat tempo to the game. It’s here that the true brilliance of the title shines.

With the boost ability in hand, the title turns into a retro, twitch-style arcade puzzler that controls perfectly (with Wii Remote sideway like the NES controller). This is key, and Nnooo nails it with responsive D-pad inputs. Thus, players can fly around the elaborate, multilayered boxed levels avoiding enemies and making rectangles.

With all this going on, we’re glad Nnooo’s controls are spot-on.

escapeVektor: Chapter 1 eventually unveils a detonation ability, too, which sets off a circular explosion around Vektor to toast enemies. The two abilities– boost and detonation– work well together. While simple, they allow for players to test new strategies on each level: blowing away enemies or learning patrols and slyly maneuvering through a course (which rewards you with a star completion if you avoid using detonation).

It’s not only the controls but also the sharp visual aesthetic that helps propel the game. Bright colors– in the shades of blue, orange and green, to name a few– light up the white lines as you proceed over them, making it easy to distinguish your tracks. The level graphs also seem to pop off the colored backgrounds, making the somewhat simple designs appear more dynamic. And the small effects trailing off Vektor add a nice and polished touch.

While flying around corners, the camera automatically zooms in on the action and adjusts accordingly to enemies or traps around you. Nnooo also allows players to zoom out and see a much larger section of the map, but the developer punishes you for this at the same time. To zoom out, players must hold down a button (B trigger) to keep this faraway perspective, which proves irritating. The wider view should be available with the tap of a button, especially for people who enjoy the zoomed-out angle much more (like me).

Seeing large parts of the map helps and hinders– best be sure your dexterity’s up to it.

Last but definitely not least, the musical soundtrack mixes well with the game and puts players into a great rhythm. The audio gets your head bobbing from the title screen and doesn’t let up. Each new level provides a new aural treat. There’s no doubt the game’s sounds elevate the overall experience.

It’s also important to note the budget-priced title packs a lot of content and value. There are two different rewards, stars and medals to achieve, which egg players on to replay the 40 or so stages. In addition, the game gets better with each passing level, a rarity in today’s gaming where the best levels are thrown at you first and foremost.

Nnooo’s escapeVektor fits right in with the high quality of Nintendo’s Art Style series. If it weren’t for the slow start and zooming-out annoyance, the game would be close to perfect. As it stands, this stacks up with the best of WiiWare, providing a killer audio/visual presentation and pleasurably obsessive good time.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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