TGS '07: Hijouguchi: Exit DS Hands-On

Mr. ESC escapes to the DS. Check out our preview straight from the TGS floor.

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Puzzle fans with a PSP probably know Taito's Exit games well. Exit and its sequel were unique puzzlers, which put you in the shoes of a wire-frame character named Mr. ESC. He is tasked with entering dangerous buildings and rescuing any hapless survivors within them. Players had to control Mr. ESC as he navigated these situations, figuring out the best way to manipulate the environments to save as many survivors as possible. Taito is finally bringing Exit to the Nintendo DS in 2008. From our time with the game at the TGS floor, all of the simple charm and addictive nature of the original game seem more than present.

In gameplay terms, Hijouguchi: Exit DS is the same as its PSP forebears. The game is presented in a 2D side-scrolling world, with Mr. ESC having only basic abilities, such as jumping small gaps and climbing short rises. Some of the survivors he'll come across have even fewer abilities, meaning Mr. ESC has to lay down the most ideal path to each level's exit for the survivors to escape. Mr. ESC does this by pushing boxes into gaps, unlocking doors, putting out fires, setting up ladders, and more.

While it plays similarly to the PSP version, the DS's Exit obviously controls differently thanks to its utilization of the Nintendo handheld's abilities. First of all, the DS's top screen is used to display a map of the entire level, while the bottom touch screen is used for all the main action. The D pad is used to free-look around a level (useful for planning strategies), while the stylus used to move Mr. ESC and the people he's helping. Basic movement is as simple as tapping Mr. ESC and then tapping where you want him to go. Holding down the left shoulder button will allow you to set a few waypoints for the characters to follow.

Mr. ESC can also be moved by dragging the stylus across the bottom screen. This is done by keeping the tip of the stylus on the character and moving it left or right as necessary. Players need to quickly brush the stylus diagonally upward to jump across a ledge, while an upward stroke will make Mr. ESC climb.

Graphically, the DS version retains the series' stripped-back yet appealing style. The TGS show floor wasn't exactly conducive to hearing the game's soundtrack, but we did hear some nice voice touches in Exit.

Taito says Exit for the DS will ship with more than 100 levels to navigate. An exact release date has not been set for Western markets, but expect it to be sometime in 2008.

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