Missile Escape isn’t locked on target

Review of Missile Escape on XBLIG: Pass
This simple arcade flight game is a good way to kill time, but isn’t for everyone.

Missile Escape is a fast-paced arcade-style game with a very simple concept—fly a plane around the screen and avoid missiles.  There are two game modes, Mission and Survival.  Both modes feature a progression of timed levels, with each level adding an additional missile.  In Mission mode, each level is self-contained and can be replayed until successfully completed.  Survival mode keeps throwing more and more missiles into the same game session.

I had a mixed reaction to the game.  It’s a fun, good-looking game, but it’s something of a one-trick pony.  Granted, the implementation of that trick is solid and polished, and its mastery takes some skill.  But in the end, it didn’t hold my attention for long.

I found control to be tricky at first, since (like a real plane) it’s not possible to turn on a dime.  Rather, the plane flies in arcs and loops, always maintaining a fixed speed.  Eventually this begins to feel natural, but that doesn’t make it easy—especially since the missiles can keep pace with the plane.  (Thankfully, the game provides Easy, Medium, and Hard modes which control the speed of gameplay.)  The end result feels like juggling.  As long as I had a stable rhythm with tight, controlled loops, I was fine.  (I never learned how to juggle; maybe I would have liked this game better if I had.)

To add to the confusion, the playing field wraps around the screen—anything that goes off one edge of the screen will show up on the other edge.  Missile tracking doesn’t seem to account for this, however.  Once a missile flipped over the edge of the screen, it readjusted its course based on its new position.  This means a sloppy turn can send stray missiles in all directions.  I suppose this is part of the challenge, but I found it frustrating and hard to wrap my head around.

If you’re interested in that sort of challenge, Missile Escape is still a decent game.  New planes are unlocked by progressing through levels, and there’s a screen that shows percentage completion of the two modes and three difficulty levels.  (I only managed to complete Mission mode on Easy.)

Overall, I’m giving Missile Escape a Pass.  For arcade game junkies, there might be a hook here, and it’s not a bad game for 80 points.  Still, there’s not much to this game, and most people will likely find it very frustrating.

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