It's now been almost three long years since Nnooo released its first WiiWare title Pop, and now after having turned its attention to DSiWare and its rather unique set of myLifeCollected applications, the company has decided to make a surprising return to WiiWare with the brand new title escapeVektor: Chapter 1. While there are no bubbles to pop this time around, Nnooo has taken a very simple concept and wrapped a unique gaming experience around it all.
When you first fire up escapeVektor, it's abundantly clear that the game has a host of old-school arcade influences built into its design. Everything from hints of Qix in its gameplay to an unusual aura of Tron and possibly a little BIT.TRIP in its musical and visual presentation. But one thing is for certain, the overall concept is quite original and provides a very interesting set of challenges for those willing to undertake its journey.
For anyone familiar with the classic arcade game Qix, you should have a pretty good understanding of how things work on a basic level in this game. As you move along the grid, you'll leave a colored trail behind you. If you can completely encircle a square cell with this color, it will become activated. In later levels this will also activate a detonation capability that can be activated with the 1 button on the sideways-held Wii Remote in order to destroy any enemies that are currently touching one of the detonation walls on the cell. Movements are controlled using the D-Pad, with various powers and functions controlled with the 1 and 2 buttons.
You're placed on a CPU grid of sorts in the game and you must guide your robot Vektor around the grid encircling the various cells placed before you. Once you've enclosed the prerequisite cells, an exit will appear that will take you to the next level. As you complete levels, Vektor will unlock new capabilities for you to make use of, a good thing considering how fast the action heats up and how challenging the CPU gets with the onslaught of enemy patrols and hunters it will begin sending out in an attempt to stop you from escaping.
At the end of each level you'll be given a tally of your performance that will not only display your finish time, but also any medals and badges you earned for that level. Not only will this provide you with added incentive to perform well, but it also gives you a good excuse to go back and try to better your time once you've acquired new skills in later worlds, such as the speed boost you'll be given use of at the beginning of World 2. So even as fun and challenging as your first play through is, there's still plenty to do for those who take the time to go back and tackle earlier challenges again.
From a visual standpoint, escapeVektor is about as simple and basic as you can get. But don't let that fool you — the game can still be quite flashy when it wants to be. Everything in the background tends to constantly pulsate and swirl around, giving you the feeling that you really are trapped inside of a computer circuit board with no way out. It's similar to the atmospheric charm found in the BIT.TRIP series, but with a look still all its own. Even the music is very entrancing and there's a set of absolutely wild sound effects to go along with it.
There's something truly impressive about how such a simple concept and presentation can end up being so engaging when done correctly, but the guys at Nnooo have woven quite a unique experience out of a simple concept and made it not only easy to pick up and play, but a game that should have no trouble keeping your attention for the long haul. If you're a fan of the BIT.TRIP series, this is definitely one to keep your eye on. It features that very same charm, but with enough new ideas to make it stand on its own two feet.