by Caitlin Roberts
reviewed on NDS
When it comes to puzzles, 'whodunnits' and other adventure, mystery / problem-solving variations, I'm your girl. Books, movies, PC, console or mobile games, it doesn't matter; sign me up, I'm in. So when Runaway 2: the dream of the Turtle landed on my desk, I happily slotted it into my DS and settled in for an engaging and challenging adventure. What I got instead, was an incredibly entertaining and amusing, yet frustrating and mind-bending walk through a world which heedlessly combined the logic and landscapes of Dali and Escher, and from which I've had to walk away several times in order soothe my pounding brain. To its credit, the game has also eventually dragged me back in each time, but only you can decide if that is due more to sheer stubbornness (read pigheadedness) on my part or, or to the inherent quality of the game despite its... "puzzling"... shortcomings.
Plotting it out
The storyline is both complex and convoluted in Runaway 2; this works well at some points along the way, but in others simply leaves you scratching your head. The game opens in a 'flashback' scene as Brian Basco sends an instant message to his friend Sushi about the incidents he's been dealing with in the Hawaii Islands where he and his girlfriend Gina were taking a break from the world. They had decided to fly over to one of the neighboring islands, but something went wrong. Before the plane crashed Brian strapped the one and only parachute pack onto Gina, then pushed her out the door. The last sight Brian had of Gina before the small plane crashes into the jungle below, showed Gina drifting down to drop in a lake in the center of the island.
The flashback ends at this point and the game begins. When Brian's plane crash lands in the jungle, his first concern is to get out of the jungle, and to head for the area where he last saw Gina. Once out, however, you find yourselves faced with some sort of secret and heavily-guarded encampment which must be infiltrated; Brian is convinced that Gina was rescued by this quasi-military group and that she is being held captive somewhere inside the encampment. Brian meets up with several characters out at a semi-abandoned resort area, including an old friend Joshua; an alien that makes me think 'Buddhist monk' every time he comes on screen.
Infiltration of the camp causes Brian to get sidetracked with Tiki temples nasty beasties and mad scientists who force him to find the answers to their puzzles. And here the storyline falls flat on its face, as far as I am concerned. The game is, one would assume, meant to be spent trying to rescue Gina from where ever it is that she has ended up, but somewhere along the way this gets forgotten as Brian heads to Alaska for a little salmon fishing, plays with telepathic helmets, goes diving for sunken alien treasure with Sushi's state-of-the-art yacht, and eventually ends up in a surreal time-traveling situation rife with pirates and sinking ships.
Working the screen
The gameplay in and of itself has been very cleverly adapted to fit the size, controls and touch screen of the DS. Not everything is meant to be shrunk to microscopic size, and both the controls and the graphics have been adjusted to minimize any negative effects this will have, including a zoom effect when you hold your pen on a section of the touch screen. The inventory has also been effectively adapted for the DS, with the icons always shown on the top screen. The current item that is in use is edged with white to highlight it and the icon that opens the backpack is just a tap of your pen away.
No Pros and Cons at this time