Tuesday 19 April 2016

3D Narrow Escape (Vectrex review)

Developer: GCE
Publisher: GCE
Released: 1983

3D Narrow Escape is a third-person space shooter that requires the 3D Imager or the Madtronix reproduction.

Piloting a ship your mission is to destroy the enemies' defense forces and defeat the evil warlord. Each level consists of two phases with the first resembling the Trench Run from the first Star Wars movie (1977). The objective is to avoid the walls and shoot six enemies as they approach. It's stunning how good the 3D effect is as you can clearly see into the distance and watch rogue ships as they advance towards the front of the screen. At first it can be tricky to line up your shots but I had more success by aiming slightly above where my brain was telling me! Once you get the hang of this shooting down enemies is tons of fun. Avoiding walls is a slight problem as there's no shadow to help judge the spatial distance between you and the barrier. In theory you can quickly hide behind a wall (which is a great idea) but in practice it's useless as the action darts along too fast for it to be effective. The controls are fantastic though and offer you real precision in your movements. The second phase tasks you with navigating walls with holes in them; in between you can grab cells to fill up your fuel gauge. It requires quick movements and can get very addictive while being a great test of your reactions and nerves! The subtle sound effect once you clear a hole is a nice touch and it's helpful for knowing when to start your next move. Once you've beaten these phases three times you're rewarded by facing a giant boss that fires back. It's a real highlight and I love the scaling effect as it gets closer to you; not only does it look cool it's also quite intimidating upon approach as there's less time to dodge its attacks. Overall, the colour separation provided by the wheels is outstanding but despite the awesome 3D effects there are times when double vision comes into play.
3D Narrow Escape is not without its share of issues but it really grows on you the more you play it. It features some excellent shooting action (while simultaneously being an impressive technological feat) and overall I was very impressed with its variety and inspired gameplay.
Random trivia: A fan-made 2D hack is available but it's almost impossible to play the second phase due to the lack of depth perception!

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