Sloppy touch-screen controls ruin Mr. Esc's Nintendo DS adventure.
When Exit came out for the Sony PSP a couple of years ago, players discovered quite a gem from the folks at Taito. This stylish platform/puzzle game features many strategic elements to keep players glued for hours, even though you'll have to put up with some extremely annoying pedestrians along the way. Now Mr. Esc, the game's hero, makes his way to the Nintendo DS with Exit DS. Unfortunately, it simply wasn't worth the wait.
The plotline is the same as previous versions of Exit. You control Mr. Esc as he works his way through building after building, rescuing innocents and averting disasters while walking to the exit. You don't run at a fast pace. Instead, you'll carefully move over objects, climb down ropes and up ladders. Along the way, you'll need to rescue innocent civilians who apparently can't take care of themselves, like the woman who keeps yelping about how she wants to go home. Yeah lady, we get the point. Now shut up.
Exit DS has numerous levels to choose from and they grow in difficulty. You'll have many tasks to complete throughout the game, including picking up keys and axes, switching levers, activating doors and swimming through water. You'll also need to coerce your unwilling cohorts to lend a hand, whether you need someone to stay on a switch or help you push a heavy object.
This all sounds fine, and on Xbox Live Arcade or PSP, it is. Unfortunately, the Nintendo DS version stumbles because the default control scheme relies heavily on imprecise touch controls. You tap your available character to take them where they need to go, rather than manipulating their actions directly with the d-pad. This is OK at first, but soon Mr. Esc starts doing things that you didn't want him doing, like falling off a ledge or wandering off a switch when he still needs to activate it. Your assistants aren't much better, acting all lame-brained while you lose your mind telling them to stay put. Having to "swipe" the screen for other functions is even worse since they don't read properly. Default controls are available, but it takes forever getting them set up.
Exit DS' cel-shaded graphics are delightful, putting a stylish touch on the proceedings as Mr. Esc moves his way through trouble. The levels are nicely designed, although a few of them are bound to challenge you more than you may expect. For some, that's fine, but throw in the bothersome controls and you may soon change your mind.
The sound is below average. The jazzy tunes are all right, but they're drowned out by the constant cries of both Mr. Esc and his friends.
With over 100 levels and Wi-Fi functionality via leaderboards, Exit DS isn't totally without merit. However, with the controls set up the way they are and too many laborious issues to get over, it's far from a sweet escape. If you can, stick with the PSP version. You'll save more lives that way.
What's Hot: Stylish cel-shaded visuals, plenty of stages to challenge you.
What's Not: Touch-screen controls are imprecise and infuriating, sound samples are incredibly annoying, later stages may be too complex for some.