Overall Score 80%
A burning building. A crying mother. Somewhere up above, babies are fleeing the burning building. Firefighters Captain Quick and Steady Betty are on the street, ready to catch the babies as they dive for safety. Can you help them bounce the babies to the waiting arms of their mother?
Fire Escapes is a retro-themed game for the iPhone and iPad, in which you tap or tilt your device (as you prefer) to position your firefighters. Babies dive from on high, and your task is to move the trampoline underneath them. If a baby hits the ground, there will be tears (and a little ghost baby watching you from on high). Lose three babies and it's game over. How long can you keep going?
Things start out easy enough. There are three points that your firefighters can stand at, and the blue babies bounce through all three. The orange babies add some complication, as they only bounce on the first and third. The pink babies only bounce on the second... when you have multiple babies in the air at once (which sounds like terrible parenting advice, doesn't it?) it can get quite frantic trying to catch them all!
The graphics are charmingly retro - all big pixels and bright colours - and are accompanied by similarly retro music and sound effects. There are some delightful little touches - the ghosts of dropped babies hovering above make an excellent counter for lost lives, and watch the ambulance turn up when you lose the first! Babies, fire and the crying mother all have simple animations, very much in keeping with the retro style.
With a plot that can be summarised in a sentence, it's no surprise that it's very easy to get the hang of Fire Escapes. You can choose whether to move with taps or by tilting the device, and the music and sound effects can be individually switched off. The different babies are neatly colour coded, so you can predict where they will land in good time. The in-game help is a single screen - but it doesn't really need to be anything more!
At the moment, the longevity is the biggest thing working against Fire Escapes. At present, the game is little more than a survival mode, with new and more frequent babies appearing as you progress. The types of baby seem to be semi-random, so it's never quite the same game twice, but you have no choice but to start each game from the beginning. However, there are a number of unlockable GameCentre achievements for the completists amongst you - and I am assured by the developer that they are working on an update with more game modes. I look forward to it!
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