Robot Rescue 2 Review
Posted by Morgan Sleeper
The sequel to Teyon's first DSiWare release from back in 2009, Robot Rescue 2 charges players with leading a flock of oddly organic looking robots to safety across gridded stages. Rescuing these robots is made more complicated, and much more interesting, by the fact that their movement is synchronized. Press any direction on the D-pad and every robot in the stage will take a step in the same direction. This game sports more of the same tile-based puzzle gameplay as the first Robot Rescue with a few additions, and though it doesn't do much in terms of presentation or innovation, there's still some solid puzzling fun to be had.
At its core, Robot Rescue 2 is a maze game, but the synchronized movement of your endangered droids combined with the bewildering array of environmental hazards makes for some incredibly devious puzzles. Stages are littered with switches, doors, teleporters, cloning panels, glue slicks, conveyor belts, and all manner of contraptions that make getting from point A to point B more of a challenge. A new element for this sequel is colour-coordination: paint-panels let you repaint your red robots in various colours, allowing them to use like-coloured switches and doors, or be stopped by barriers of the same shade. It's a great addition, giving players something dynamic to keep track of along with the traps and transporters in each level, and painting and repainting the robots ends up being the most engaging part of the puzzles.
After the ten stage tutorial, you'll find 50 levels waiting for you, split over different themes including "Painting Fun", "Arcade", "Classic", and "Hardcore". Unless you're a Robot Rescue savant, this selection should definitely keep you busy for quite a long time. This isn't because the puzzles are lengthy, but because they can be really, really challenging. Some puzzles are easy enough to work through on the fly, but just as many require advance planning, backtracking, and "seeing" the solution before charging blindly into the fray. It's definitely satisfying to finally solve a puzzle after dozens of attempts ending in robotic disaster, but the difficulty can be frustrating when you just want to play a stage or two and find yourself unable to progress. If a puzzle doesn't "click" with you, moving on often comes down to trial and error, which is a seriously tedious process in these complex levels.
Robot Rescue 2 is a book-view DSiWare title, with the system held vertically so that the two screens are side-by-side. This allows for a larger view of the puzzles, but the disconnect between the physical space separating the screens and the fact that they're treated as one unbroken playing field does take a bit of getting used to. It's easy to send your robots marching too far at first, assuming they'll be safe in the protective embrace of the DSi's hinge; they won't be. There's no option to swap the view for left-handed players, though since the controls consist entirely of moving with the D-pad it ends up working just fine for southpaws as well.
In terms of presentation, Robot Rescue 2 is best described as functional. Nearly all of the graphical assets are recycled from the first game, and while the attraction of the art style is down to personal preference, there's very little visual variety to differentiate the stages, and repeating tiles can make them feel cluttered. The down-tempo electronic soundtrack is similar: unoffensive but uninspiring. The appeal of the game's puzzles certainly isn't diminished by the graphics or sound, it's just a shame they don't add much to it either.
Like its predecessor, Robot Rescue 2 offers brain-bending, multi-step puzzles that are unapologetically tough but incredibly gratifying to beat. Fans of the original Robot Rescue will definitely enjoy the sequel, though even with the excellent new colour mechanic it feels more like a level pack than a full blown follow-up. For 200 points, however, that's still a good deal. The coordinated movement mechanic makes for a unique experience, and while the erratic difficulty can frustrate, puzzle fans after a challenge will likely have fun bailing out these bots.