First Impressions: Simple Series Vol. 4 - The Misshitsu Kara no Dasshutsu (WiiWare - Japan)
Posted by Sean Aaron
Not quite Steve McQueen...
Well, Simple Series Vol. 4 - The Misshitsu Kara no Dasshutsu is quite a mouthful, so for the purpose of these impressions please forgive the re-titling of this game with the shorter, but still thematically correct name Room Escape.
D3 Publisher is known as a publisher of budget games and has pushed out dozens of them for the PS2 and other platforms over the years for the low-low price of ¥2000 and under. They aren't going to set the world on fire (note the SIMPLE in the title?), but would certainly fall into the category of "throwaway fun" at best and "shovelware crap" at worst. When D3 first decided to bring Simple Series games to Wii, they were coming out on disc, but this strategy has since been reconsidered – you'll find several of the disc releases, like The Block Kuzushi, have been re-released as part of a new Simple series on WiiWare. It's good for D3 because they're spared the disc-pressing expense and it's good for gamers because the price is a lot lower – Room Escape is only 500pts! They also seem to be aiming at releasing newer titles for WiiWare and DSiWare – anyone following the Japanese release items over the past few months will note that this very game appeared on the DSiWare service in July, where it is the first of the series on that platform (and the same price of 500pts).
But enough trivia, let's get to the game. No time is wasted with fancy intro movies or multi-layered menus: you press at the title screen and you're presented with 3 stages to try; all immediately accessible. No options, no save profiles – the name of the series is "Simple" remember? The goal of each stage is to escape from the room you find yourself in using a combination of items found in the immediate vicinity. It's basically a combination of adventure and puzzle game, though importers be warned, the use of Japanese text for descriptions and likely clues does sharply increase the difficulty of the game to the point it can seem unplayable.
Room Escape has a first-person view and apparently whomever's eyeballs you're looking through starts the stage looking around at their new surroundings. As they check things out there's a lot of Japanese text which is presumably along the lines of "**Yawn** what a dream – hey, where am I? What is this place? Hey the door's locked... this one too? How am I going to get out of here?!!??" -- but unless you can actually read Japanese, who knows for sure?
Your interface is the Remote alone: use the IR pointer to move the cursor around the screen and click on things with to interact with them. You cannot look up or down ordinarily, but left and right with (alternatively clicking on on-screen arrows at the side of the screen) will rotate your view in place. Initially, your sole method of interaction is clicking on things on the screen. Clicking on an area worthy of more attention, say a locked door or a window into another room off a balcony, will cause the camera to zoom in so you can have a more detailed view. When you're done looking you press down on (or again, click an on-screen arrow using pointer+ ) to pull back. Items you can collect like keys, fishing rods and remote control helicopters will go into an inventory when clicked; this can be pulled up by clicking the large ITEMS icon in the upper right corner of the screen or by pressing on the Remote.
You can also interact with objects by clicking the Action icon in the upper left corner or by pressing on the Remote. This comes into play when you need motion controls to use an item, such as a fishing rod or screwdriver; or an object like a bicycle pedal. There are no graphical prompts, just text – but these things are generally intuitive, so it's not too hard to figure out. Initially, the game will bring up the Action grid overlay if you click on an object that requires an action (depending on the action you may need to have an item equipped for this to happen), but later on you'll just need to decide for yourself to bring up the action screen to try something (again it's likely that text boxes would give you a clue… if you could read them!). What’s also difficult to figure out is that some items can be interacted with in the items screen – spinning them around in the item view screen isn't just for fun; you may need to click on an object to get something from it (like batteries) to use elsewhere!
Language isn't initially a barrier with Room Escape, it just makes the game a bit more challenging. You get text boxes every time you click on something – more text if it's something of use – but unless you can read Japanese you won't realise that the text box displayed when you're using the AV remote and nothing is happening, is actually telling you that you need batteries – unless you happen to find that out on your own. The game doesn't help by being picky about motions or doing goofy things like having screw threads which are reversed from reality and therefore resulting in failed attempts to remove a wall panel without knowing why until you accidentally twist the remote in the opposite direction (Sure it’s not your poor DIY skills? – Editor). This causes you to rely more on trial-and-error than would otherwise be necessary – sometimes getting stuck will have you wishing for that Japanese language course! There's only 3 stages, but the leap in difficulty between 1 and 2 is pretty significant, so it should occupy you for a few hours at least – especially if you cannot understand the hints.
Room Escape is a simple title, but there's an interesting adventure/puzzle game on offer here, so it's something that could easily translate well to other territories… if anyone is enterprising enough to localise it. If you have the means and like adventure games, this is probably not a bad use of 500pts, but it's definitely a good idea to bring some patience and creativity with you!