|System: Wii, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Gojii Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Majesco||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 18, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
With the cost of just about everything, including video games, going steadily up, budget titles are often an easy sell, especially to the casual gamer browsing the electronics department at their local retail store. Escape the Museum (not related to the upcoming sequel to Night at the Museum movie) is a puzzle adventure that retails for a mere $19.99, but is it truly a bargain or a candidate for the recall pile?
You play as Susan Anderson, a paleontologist of the National Museum of History. Susan brings her daughter, Catlin, with her to the museum one day to catch up on work, but as they're strolling about, suddenly an earthquake occurs, leaving them trapped. It's up to you to reunite with Catlin, as well as rescue some of the museum's most-valuable artifacts.
Escape the Museum is a point-and-click adventure that has you doing a bit of problem solving and a whole lot of item finding. Like the recently released Million Heir for the Nintendo DS, you'll spend much of your time hunting for various items hidden within static backgrounds. Other times, however, you'll be tasked with figuring out how to make your way to another room within the museum. It's an interesting mix of gameplay ideas, but ultimately, Escape the Museum is a flat experience with almost no excitement or challenge.
The game is broken up by rooms, with several rooms making up chapters of the game. As you complete chapters, you'll then be able to return to certain rooms to take on additional challenges. These little extras, however, are merely more of the same - find items hidden within the picture.
Each room you play through is basically a mission. You'll communicate with the museum curator, Marcus Duval, via walkie-talkie, and he'll brief you on what exactly you'll need to do in order to get through each room. In missions where you're tasked with finding a means of escape, Marcus will instruct you to utilize items that will clear a pathway for you. In other missions, Marcus will simply ask you to collect rare museum pieces that shouldn't be left behind.
The actual escape portions of the game are certainly the most entertaining, though the level of difficulty remains fairly remedial throughout the duration of the adventure. As an example, one room will require to you to use a lamp post to cross over a large staircase gap, but you'll first need to figure out how to access the post, since it's bolted down. Piecing things together is often mildly rewarding, but unfortunately, there is a far greater number of scavenging elements than actual puzzles.
The bulk of the game is made up of rooms where you simply need to spot items cleverly blended into backgrounds. When you enter these types of missions, Marcus will provide you with a list of things to retrieve, and you just need to click on items in order to complete the room. Granted, most of the stuff is fairly difficult to see, but there's no real penalty for clicking on the wrong item. You have an accuracy meter that goes down each time you select something not marked on your list, but since your accuracy rating doesn't earn you anything in terms of unlockables or moving the game forward, you can click away 'til your heart's content. In addition, there's a hint option that will point you toward the general vicinity of items on your list, and though it takes a moment to charge back up, you can use hints an unlimited number of times during most of these types of missions.
Escape the Museum is played using only the Wii Remote, and the pointer functionality, for the most part, works well. There's an onscreen cursor that allows you to select items from your inventory or click on things in the background. When scrolling over backgrounds, you'll often come across areas with either a question mark or "+" symbol. Areas with a plus allow you to zoom in for a closer look, and the question mark lets you use items on a particular area. To use items in your inventory, you click on the item and then an area of the background.