By Eric Pankoke on Fri, 02/18/2011
I don’t know what it is about the whole falling down / continually climbing genre of games. It’s no more complex than the constantly running variety, yet it can be just as addictive. To be perfectly honest, though, when I first started playing Volcano Escape I thought it was going to be different. I actually didn’t think I was going to get into it. Turns out I was wrong. The thing that actually sets Volcano Escape apart from the crowd is you’ll actually find yourself doing better if you don’t completely rush. There’s no room to dawdle either, but a happy medium will take you a long way. I’m not sure I’m thrilled about the controls, but given enough time I’ll get used to them.
You start off as Colonel Charlie Bravo, but through various accomplishments (or in one case simply by making an in-app purchase) you can unlock other characters. Whoever you choose, your mission is basic and clear – get out of the volcano alive. If I had to hazard a guess I’d say you’ll never complete your mission, but then it could just be that I’ll never be good enough to attain that goal.
Whatever the case, you have to keep movin’ on up, dealing with a variety of obstacles that will try to keep you from your task at hand. The overriding factor is the lava that is following you up the shaft. Make no mistake, one lick of this fiery trap will seal your doom instantly. There are also a bunch of angry natives that would rather take you dead than alive. Each encounter with a native takes away a heart, of which you only have three. When all your hearts are gone the jig is up. There are some environmental obstacles that you’ll have to deal with as well, but the lava and the natives are the most vicious.
Thankfully, you have plenty of items to help you on your quest. You are equipped with a stock pistol, and at times you will find temporary upgrades that give you more powerful weapons. Sometimes you’ll find a shield that offers temporary protection, and at other times you’ll run across an item that helps you jump higher. My favorite item, though, is the jetpack. This will help put some distance between you and the lava rather quickly. I haven’t run across anything yet that replenishes hearts, but I’m not sure if that’s because there isn’t anything or I just haven’t been lucky enough yet.
To move your character back and forth just hit the left and right arrows on the left side of the screen. To jump you use the… wait for it… jump button, and to fire you use the virtual d-pad in the lower right corner of the screen. The controls are actually fairly responsive, but there’s something about them that just doesn’t quite sit right with me. I just can’t put my finger on what it is yet.
The thing about Volcano Rescue is you can’t just go nuts and start charging up as fast as you can. That might get you a couple hundred meters, but you’ll quickly extinguish all you heart and be facing the “game over” screen. While you can’t hang around anywhere forever (since the lava will get you) you will want to take the time to actually dispose of the natives properly. And even though it may not seem like it, you’ll actually have the time to do that in most cases. This affords you the luxury of vanquishing your foes without inadvertently hitting them in the process and losing a life. It even adds a bit of a strategic element to the game.
The graphics are actually pretty decent. The backgrounds are nicely detailed, though the color scheme seems a bit garish at times. The characters also look good, especially during the character selection stage. The main problem is that during the game everything is so small that it’s hard to appreciate the character details. The sound effects are a nice compliment to the visuals. The voiceovers are decent, and Charlie Bravo has some decent comments. It will be interesting to see if this carries through to the other characters. The music is your typical video game island beat, but it’s easy to listen to and works well as background filler.
What I was expecting from Volcano Escape was another one of those “been there, done that” sort of experiences. What I got, while nothing really revolutionary, was a “climb to the top” style game that is actually a lot more entertaining than many others I’ve played, including a certain one that supposedly started the whole trend. One of these days I’m going to pinpoint my issue with the controls, and it would be nice to be able to see the characters a bit better, but otherwise this is a solid implementation of a genre that really doesn’t change much from installment to installment.
Overall Score: 8/10
App Store Link