High Voltage Software and Yuke’s have teamed up to create Evasive Space, a ten dollar WiiWare title that sports some creative ideas but ultimately falls short due to poor level design and many gameplay hiccups.
Misrepresented as a shooter, this downloadable title is all about dodging obstacles and reaching the finish line. Made exclusively for the Wii hardware, all gameplay is performed by pointing the IR sensor of the Wii remote at the screen. When the B-trigger is held down, the ship’s propulsion system guides the spacecraft to where the IR pointer is located on screen, somewhat similar to the Wii version of Geometry Wars. This is an interesting gameplay mechanic, and something that can only be performed using the Wii’s hardware, but ultimately begs the question: would an analog stick been a more comfortable approach? Controlling your ship by pointing at the screen is definitely more on the unique side, but always feels a little too loose even after spending a couple hours with the title. Needless bumping into the game’s boarders will happen more often than not.
The goal of Evasive Space is to reach the finish line – not to blast laser cannons at opposing forces. Because the game is all about traveling, the biggest challenge becomes navigating each level. Some levels are open environments with the goal of collecting floating spacemen, but most stages are mazes. Using this maze level design is the game’s first major flaw. The only way to complete each stage is to suffer through a trial and error process. It is pretty much mandatory that the player die several times before finding the correct path on each level, especially the later ones. As a whole, this is an extremely cheap way to extend the life of the game and offer a frustrating level of difficulty. Because the camera never pulls back far enough, the player must constantly rely on persistence, dedication, and even luck to complete each stage.
Making each stage even more frustratingly difficult is the ever present race against the timer. First off, the time counts up! Why the hell doesn’t the timer count down like every other timed event on planet Earth? Because the timer counts up, the player has no idea how much time is left before the game over screen is displayed. Only during the last 5-10 seconds does the screen start to flash red and emit the Zelda-last-heart-beeping indicator, implying to hurry your ass up to the goal line before its game over. This fact alone almost makes the game unplayable and inconsistent.
Each stage also has numerous traps, enemies, and dangers that will impede your progress. However, all these obstacles are nothing but cheap ways to slow down the player’s progress because they are often times unavoidable. The best example of this comes from these golden snake-like creatures that pop out of holes in the background. Because they move with the same up-and-down animation, the player will most likely hit these enemies twice before being able to proceed. Combine this with fact that the camera that does not pan out far enough, you are pretty much guaranteed to run into these guys every time. And because of their super-extendo reach, they will hit you even if you know they are there through trial and error. Cannon fire hitting you from behind, taking warp gates that have no indicator as to where they are taking you too, and even slightly bumping into the wall will all cause your ship to stop in its tracks and eat up precious seconds off the clock. There are so many poorly designed obstacles like this spread throughout the game that ultimately make the game cheap and unfair.
The game has about four differently themed environments that all contain that space-ace charm and atmosphere. For a downloadable game, there really can’t be too much complaining in the graphics department, but the plot line and narration between the pilot and the ship is absolutely dismal. The menu system is clear and to the point and uploading the online leaderboards is a quick and painless process, but the game does suffer from an overall lack of significant presentation polish.
Giving the game some extra legs are the local multiplayer modes for up to four players and the WiFi leaderboards. The local multiplayer modes are moderately enjoyable and the online leaderboards are bound to have perfectionists competing for the top slot even though there are only 20 levels to compete in.
From the game’s screenshots and initial first impression, it is not hard to mistake Evasive Space as another classic shooter. This is definitely not the case as avoiding obstacles and reaching the finish line before time runs out is the basis of gameplay. A game like this can only be created using the Wii’s unique controller, but this style of gameplay really could have been done with an analog stick. Unfortunately, the loose play control, cheap level design, unavoidable enemies, and a terrible in-game timer really make the cost of 1000 Wii Points unjustifiable.