EXIT was first released as a game exclusively for the PSP. While trailers appeared online and had some coverage on game review shows on television, like most puzzle games, never became “critically acclaimed”; regardless, it was still a unique and fun game which mixes both puzzle and platform aspects beautifully.
In 2007, it was ported to Xbox Live Arcade, and Nintendo DS which was released only in Japan. With the technical differences between the DS and PSP, EXIT moved from a 2.5D perspective to a pure 2D sidescroller with additional touch screen controls; the player can revert to the traditional +Control Pad if the stylus controls weren’t responsive enough. In addition to DS-exclusive controls, EXIT DS made some use of the Nintendo WiFi Connection; the only thing that can be done online is compare your stage completion times with others who have also connected to Nintendo’s WFC; for example, for Stage 2, the fastest time recorded was 10’40”93 and my completion time was 34’23”54 ranked at #943, so I’m not necessarily the slowest person in this game.
With the Japanese language in the tutorial, I wasn’t boggled by the instructions; through trail and error, I learned that I need to tap a character first, then an object or empty space to make it move; the +Control Pad was used to move the camera to see other parts of the level. The only problem I had with the stylus controls was guiding people upstairs since I have to tap the top of the stairs while the character was standing directly in front of the stairs. There are some English captions such as the main menu and top screen during gameplay which displays a map of the level, and explains what each symbol in the map mean.
The stages in EXIT are referred to as “situations” which represent different types of buildings that are on fire, covered with ice and even earthquakes. There are 10 situations, each containing 10 levels, with a total of 100 levels, and gradually increases in difficulty with every level. The objective of each level remains the same: Remove obstacles such as fire or ice that blocks the path to the exit at the end of the level, and guide the trapped individuals to the exit under the pre-determined time limit.
Each individual has different perks: Children can’t jump high or climb high and can easily crawl under obstacles too small for Mr. ESC; obese people are stronger and can push heavy objects; average fit people are similar to Mr. ESC but without the enhancements such as jumping, and can help Mr. ESC push certain blocks when an obese person isn’t around; dogs can crawl under obstacles and can jump incredibly far; injured people are unable to move and must be carried to the exit. With these perks, it creates the idea of teamwork with these individuals to finish the level, and can sometimes force the player to save people in a specific order.
Mr. ESC will do many things from extinguishing fires, to breaking ice barriers, riding elevators, and moving blocks to jump over pits to the exit. With the combination of jumping, climbing, pushing blocks, and guiding individuals to safety, this is one puzzle platform game on the DS that is worth buying if it should ever be released in North America. Unlike the PSP and Xbox Live Arcade versions, there are no downloadable levels, so there will only be 100 playable levels and it will take a while to finish all of them before you consider downloading more.