Friday, May 31, 2019

Game EXP: Dustoff Heli Rescue II (NS)

Disclaimer:  I received Dustoff Heli Rescue II for the Nintendo Switch free of charge from developer Rainy Frog and publisher Ratalaika Games through Indie Gamer Chick's #IndieSelect event back in early March, 2019.  The game was given without promise or expectation of a positive review, only that the game be played and shared through social media channels.  All of the words contained in this article, unless otherwise noted, are my own.

I first started playing Dustoff Heli Rescue II back in March and finally finished the game back on April 10th, but for whatever reason, the rest of the next two months, I failed to follow up with a second article, delving a bit more into my play experiences with this game.  If you have not read my First Impressions article yet, I recommend it because I will be coming from the perspective of someone who already knows a bit about the game.

Bringing supplies to the troops.
In my First Impressions article, I was on Mission 08 out of 35, which seems like a decent amount of missions to get acquainted with the overall mechanics of the game.  By that point I had experienced attack missions, rescue missions, and supply drop missions.  The only thing that would be more developed as the game progressed were the environments.  While most of the game took place traveling from one side of the level to the other, eventually vast networks of cave systems were introduced, and these areas (as they never fully encompassed the entire stage) were my least favorite.  Even when I had upgraded to the highest level helicopter in the game, which had the best controls with the exception of the flying saucer (more on that one later), traveling through tight corridor-ed caves was always nerve wracking and never seemed to go as fast as I had wanted to.

Unlocking weapons & helicopters happens w/ completing levels, and is not
directly related to the number of stars earned on a mission.
In that article, I had also (briefly) mentioned the jump in difficulty, especially with Mission 08.  What I apparently failed to take in was just attempting to pass a level without some/any/all of the side items (additional stars, dog tags) on my initial run through on the stages.  What I ended up doing was just playing the level to pass it and try to work my way up to better helicopters as well as upgrading the equipable weapons when they became available, then go back and do previous stages where I was missing stars/dog tags.  Once I reached that mind set, I began to have a lot more fun, or at least became less frustrated with not being able to do the levels as fast as I needed to be in order to earn the timed star.  And you know, once I had progressed enough to have a helicopter at one or two levels, I would go back and do previous missions and wonder what my hang up was.

The point is, sure you could probably get a 3 star rating while collecting all of the dog tags on your first playthrough on Mission 13, but that was not how I was enjoying the game.

Not the best shot, but if you look closely, you can see another friendly Blufor
Helicopter back there by the plateau.
I also want to highlight the fact that the level design was pretty amazing for the overall voxel approach to the game.  Often times there would be other helicopters in the background, presumably doing similar missions.  This lead to the feeling that the world I was playing in was not limited to my own actions, but that there were other missions going on that I was a participant in.  What I like about this is that it eliminates the solo fighter constantly being the one key component to winning an entire war.

And then there was not the last mission, but the mission that ended the war.  Without giving too much away, I will say that there were elements in this one level that were not used in any other level, and that was a nice touch.  When I came upon these environmental elements, I was taken aback, both at the scale that Rainy Frog took to make this particular level feel special, but also because it looked great!  There was the semi-expected boss battle too, but that was not what I am referring to. 

And then the game continued!  After the big boss battle, there were still missions that included eliminating remaining factions, rescuing troops from earlier missions, and the like.  It was, in my opinion, a pretty brilliant way to close out a fun game.  Rather than have the boss battle be the last level, there was clean up to do, which to me makes sense when dealing with a fictional war.

So in the end, I would recommend Dustoff Heli Rescue II if you are looking for a simplistically conceptualized, which I previously said would not be out of place on the Atari 2600, but with Minecraft voxel stylized graphics plays great.  I spent about 10 hours on the game, which could possibly justify the $14.99 MSRP, but for some reason that still seemed a bit high to me (even though I received the game for free).  I would think a $9.99 price tag might be more reasonable and probably a better price point; but that is just me.

And I still think that a Star Wars game using the exact same engine and mechanics would be a perfect match.  Although EA should probably not be anywhere near this game, otherwise they might microtransaction the hell out of an otherwise fun game.

But Now We Must Fly

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