The most interesting Simple 2000 titles all start with a great concept. Volume 95, The Zombie vs. Ambulance (say that title to yourself, out loud), has that in spades, but is a concept enough to carry a game?
You control the last doctor alive in a city that’s been overrun by zombies. Ignoring the pleas of the other remaining hospital staff, the main character takes it upon himself to rescue every citizen that has survived the zombie apocalypse, using the last ambulance left in the hospital’s garage. Zombies roam the city’s streets and are spawned from thin air at a steady pace, menacing your vehicle and its passengers. What’s the solution to the problem? Running the undead over at full speed, of course. Guts and gore go flying everywhere with a successful hit, and multiple successive kills fill up the requisite combo meter. High combos add bonus time to the timer that limits the amount of time the player has before the hospital is overrun and it’s game over.
Let’s get this out of the way right now: even though The Helicopter features a radio-controlled helicopter, it is not in any sort of competition with Shiny’s RC Stunt Copter. It doesn’t remotely aspire to that game’s level of simulation, and it won’t appeal to anybody expecting an extremely accurate flight model. What this is is a simple, pleasant, unassuming mission-based flight game not unlike Rescue Copter. It’s also the sequel to a Simple 1500 title for Playstation of the same title, which was released overseas as simply “RC Helicopter.”
The game’s set in a suburban Japanese environment, with three different major locations: the player’s home, a shop-lined street, and a school building. The player controls the helicopter at all times, from the very beginning of the game, and is free to roam about the available locations looking for work that needs to be done. Golden stars are scattered around the environments, and picking one up by running into it with the helicopter will cause a mission to start. The missions each involve one of the game’s NPCs giving the player a fairly mundane task to carry out, like washing windows, killing cockroaches with bug spray, scaring away crows, cleaning up empty soda cans in a vacant lot, or returning lost bikini tops to distraught female swimmers (um, yeah). Auxillary actions are handled with the R1 (and sometimes L1) button, and these actions – whether squirting or grabbing – behave predictably and reliably, unlike in Rescue Copter. All of the NPC speech is in Japanese text only, but it’s easy to tell when they mention the buttons one will be using on a mission, and easy to figure out mission goals even if one doesn’t understand a word of moonspeak.
The “vacation game” came into its own as a genre beginning around 1999, with it games like the Aquanaut’s Holiday series, Kita he, Boku no Natsuyasumi, Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, and others. They are vacations not just because of their generally-idyllic settings and touristy gameplay tasks, but in the way that their gameplay often offers a vacation from other types of games, with simple operation, simple goals, and preferably little irritation to stand in the way. While it may be easy to pass this style off as shallow and slight, it’s refreshing to take a break from memorizing moves and level layouts once in a while.
Everblue 2 is another example of the style. Continue reading