Rescue: The Beagles has been fluttering around my consciousness for a while now. I was aware of it, had even seen a video of it, but I hadn’t really been interested enough to want to play it. It had recommendations coming out of its… (do Beagles have conventional arses?), and yet still I wasn’t moved to download and play. It wasn’t until I was browsing the TIGSource Forums late last night that I finally decided to take the plunge, and actually see what it was all about. The realisation that the whole thing was procedurally generated was, of course, only encouraging.
Rescue: The Beagles seems to be daft and rather flaccid before you start playing. A plane has crashed on the way to an animal testing lab, spilling dozens of beagles into the surrounding countryside. The lab has sent people to go get them back, and you are an animal activist trying to save them all. Add in the ability throw owls (or owl poop?) at the lab workers and it starts to get a little more interesting. Then add in a three layered platforming game that has, essentially, three different levels moving at different speeds on the side scroller, with the ability to switch between them at will and it starts to get very interesting. Rescue: The Beagles is definitely something a little bit different, and a little bit special.
The game is crushingly unforgiving to begin with. There is a certain distance you can fall without getting hurt, but it isn’t nearly as obvious as perhaps would be helpful. And so you’re constantly opening your parachute when you don’t need to, or not opening it and falling to your death. Similarly, it seems it doesn’t matter which plane the enemies are on; if you touch them, you die. However, all this melts away after a few tries, as you begin to just know when to jump, when to shimmy up your rope, and most of all, how to look out for those pesky beagles.
In all it’s pixelated glory, Rescue:The Beagles is a startlingly pretty game, specifically in the levels, which take on a lovely pastel hue that is, like the levels themselves, procedurally generated. Add in some classic 8 bit music and the game feels hugely retro without feeling stale. It’s a pity I’m quite rubbish at it, as a friend showed me last night by racking up 40,000 points in just under 10 minutes of playing the game. I’m going to go stand over here now.
You can download Rescue: The Beagles here.