Go! Go! Rescue Squad—A “Go Buy”

Posted: May 26, 2009 in Puzzle

Who doesn’t look up to firemen and their daily heroics? That’s the theme behind Go! Go! Rescue Squad, and it’s a multi-layered puzzle game that in my opinion is extremely well-suited for the iPhone/iPod Touch platform. The gameplay is challenging yet original with terrific graphics and content.

The first thing that hit me was the soundtrack, which sounds vaguely similar to the theme song from the ’80 TV show “The A Team” and sets the mood for the rest of this game. Your job is to rescue victims called Darwins in fire ravaged buildings by getting them to the exit, and there are 64 levels broken into six districts:

Training Camp (unlocked)
Pimlico Heights
Zargoman’s Labs
General Disorder’s Army Base
Blimpy’s Bed Factory
Deathtrap Towers (bonus district)

The game isn’t linear and by completing certain puzzles within the various districts, other puzzles unlock. So you don’t need to complete every single puzzle in Pimlico Heights before moving on to puzzles in Zargoman’s Labs. I do recommend that you complete Training Camp before moving on to Pimlico Heights because it serves as a good primer on the controls and movement.

Three types of Darwins exist, and they have different behaviors along with accompanying sound effects that affect the rescue strategy.

Darwin Types
Twonks—will run and stay trapped on ledges
Screebs—will run and jump off ledges
Funzies—can climb ladders and use fire extinguishers

One of the neat things in the game is that in most of the puzzles, you have multiple firemen spread around the level that you can switch to and control at any point. So instead of managing one character, you are literally managing a team of firemen and their actions.

The controls are a strong point for this game. Touch the screen where you want your fireman to go, and to control a different fireman, tap directly on him. To jump gaps, tap across on the other side, and the fireman will jump accordingly. Specific actions appear as thought bubbles, which can be selected by touch. For example, if a fireman comes across a fire extinguisher, a thought bubble appears showing him pick it up. You simply tap on that thought bubble, and the fireman performs that action. On top of that, there is an aiming function. In many cases, your fireman will need to throw victims or items to another area or fireman and using arrows that appear down the left and right sides of the screen, you can aim and control where to throw. The aiming mechanism will show exactly where the object or Darwin will land via drawn-in trajectory line. It sounds complicated, but in practice, the control setup works remarkably well.

To clear a level, all the Darwins must be rescued in that particular puzzle, which isn’t easy because of the obstacles, which include fires, floods, chemical spills and security robots. If any Darwins do not survive, the Grim Reaper appears signaling the end of that level.

Each time a puzzle is solved, you earn a gold, silver or bronze medal. How is this determined? Go! Go! Rescue Squad has a Rewind function (think undo button) which while handy, will downgrade the medal you earn if you rely on it too often. The Rewind function is actually pretty interesting because it allows you to rewind based on specific intervals including after the Grim Reaper makes an appearance so a game is never truly over, although you may want to reset to go for the gold medal. It’s a nice option if you don’t like having to start levels from the beginning. Other features include pinch zoom and a pan function activated by tapping the Eye icon on the game screen. I would definitely recommend zooming in if you have large fingers. Zoomed out, the controls can be somewhat difficult in terms of accuracy.

Each district has additional rooms that are unlocked based on the medals earned in the puzzles. Bonus Room allows firemen to collect coins by throwing Darwins and unlocks when at least one gold medal is earned in a district; Danger Room offers an advanced puzzle where you must solve it without the benefit of rewind that is available to those who earn at least a bronze medal for every puzzle played in a district; and DeathTrap Towers provide super advanced levels for those who earn at least one gold medal in every other puzzle in the game.

The gameplay is entertaining, and the game can be downright difficult at least for me. There are some levels where I am constantly rewinding because Darwins or firemen get fried by fires or are “negatively impacted” by other obstacles. Each type of Darwin has his/her own type of scream, and as I mentioned, attributes that you need to consider. For example, putting out a fire that separates a Screeb from a ledge is not always the best idea since she will panic and jump off the ledge. While firemen call fall safely at any distance, Darwins cannot survive long falls so make sure you position firemen at the bottom to catch them if need be.

In terms of issues with the game, the throwing mechanism can be a bit temperamental. There are times when the trajectory line is a bit off because the fireman isn’t standing at just the right spot. So I end up not being able to complete a throw unless the fireman moves ever so slightly. Besides that, my only other issue, which really isn’t one, is that the puzzles can be very challenging.

If you’re looking for some truly challenging puzzles with a humorous bent to it, Go! Go! Rescue Squad is one I would highly recommend both for casual and more serious gameplay.

Albie Meter: 5 Stars (the amount of levels and content plus the lighthearted gameplay make this a must have for those who love challenging puzzles)

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