Sep 10, 2010

Baby Savers

Baby Savers is a reprise of an old DOS based game from the 80s. There's a burning building and lots of babies are trapped inside. The fire department has arrived and two fire fighters bring a trampoline over to the building. Babies are thrown out the window to the fire fighters who then proceed to bounce them over to safety and into the ambulance.

The background graphics for the game are good and look almost cartoony with a building on the left animated with flames pouring out of two windows and smoke rising above. In the early stages babies are only thrown out of the top window. Perhaps later they are thrown from the bottom window, offering less reaction time, and if not that would be a nice addition to the game. Unfortunately the sound in the game is grating. Every baby bounced into the ambulance lets out a happy 'yaaay!' sound. The first time it's cute, the second time ok, and the twentieth? Aargh! An easy upgrade would be to make the babies have a variety of cute sounds and expressions. And what about babies smashing to the pavement? A soft crunch sound is heard. Now there's an opportunity for some controversial press. The possibilities are mind boggling! And the controls... just touch and drag along the bottom of the screen to more your trampoline back and forth. The controls are actually among the most impressive aspects of the game. It's entirely possible to make that speedy save and to rescue a baby from the jaws of death.

The game's menu features a play button and an options button and the title of the game is in a strangely small typeface. Usually when there's a menu there are menu items. In this case there's one choice (other than returning to the main screen) and that choice is 'high scores'. So I ask "why an options menu?". Future expansion? It would also be nice if the 'high scores' option featured leader board support so I could compare my scores to others and have a goal to beat. If you'd like a goal my current high is 72. Upon playing, there's a noticeable absence of any choice of skill levels and the game begins (perhaps the window could be at different heights for different skill levels?). At first it's confidence builder time... the first few babies are all too easy. Things gradually ramp up to two, three, etc... babies at a time and eventually they'll get too difficult for anyone. Finally, I wish it was more obvious when a baby was safely on its way to the ambulance or needed another bounce. I've has many times when one fell just short when it looked like it might make it. It appears that babies just have to make contact with the open back door of the ambulance... although in real life that just wouldn't do.
This game is just $.99 so it's hard to be too critical. Yet it's also easy as I see so many opportunities for improvement. I could see anvils being thrown out the window that damage the trampoline until the next baby smashes to the ground. My other issue is that I also don't see the game being fun for very long. You'll probably play it a few times and then shelve it because there's not enough variety to hold one's interest and little reason to play on. It needs more of a leveling system and things to see and unlock. I know this is a port of a game from the 80s and on that front it's an improvement, but in order to succeed nowadays it's going to need even more. 3.5/5 stars.

Update: Shortly after writing this review I was able to exchange a couple emails with the developer who says that they are indeed going to be adding some of these suggestions and more into the game. One idea they had was to have flaming debris ignite the trampoline and then you have to tap it out. Very cool idea! And yes, the Options screen is indeed a stub for additional options. A demo version is also going to be released soon.

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