It’s taken me awhile to remember the name Dustoff Heli Rescue II – it’s not a very catchy title. Developed by Invictus Games and Ratalaika Games, the arcade-action gameplay is thankfully more memorable and fun, as you control a helicopter through various missions. It’s not perfect, though, so is it worth your time?
I had a slow start to my Dustoff experience. Apart from the uninspiring name, the game has a long-ish intro that delays getting into the action – it’s well over 30 seconds, which isn’t really suitable for on-the-go gaming.
Once the game is up and running, things get better, with much shorter load times. But unfortunately, I have to mention a glitch I suffered early on, when the game repeatedly froze at the exact same point during the tutorial. Resetting didn’t solve the problem; neither did reinstalling the game. Only persistently trying again and again did I somehow make it through. After that, everything was fine.
That’s a negative way to begin a review but, after my rocky start, I thankfully found enjoyment in the actual game. Dustoff comprises 30 bite-sized levels in which you guide a helicopter from left to right to complete certain missions. Levels are timed and generally only take a couple of minutes each, so it’s a great way to pass the time on the go.
Missions vary between rescuing or deploying troops, destroying enemy convoys (or protecting your own), and dropping off and picking up supply crates. You can choose your helicopter for each mission, and new and improved models become available for purchase as you progress, with better firearms or more room for troops.
Speaking of firearms, shooting is automatic, something that took me a while to realise. Pressing the X button doesn’t fire your guns, it just turns them on and off, allowing you to conserve ammo. But that isn’t part of the tutorial and a constant “Press X” hint flashes below your ammo supply, begging you to press it. I wondered why I continued to be shot down.
The other controls are straightforward enough – the L and R buttons lift your copter and fly you in the appropriate direction. You then release them to land, though you have to pump them a few times to ensure a smooth landing. I did have trouble rotating sometimes, and ended up flying backwards; not great when you do need that automatic firing from the front.
The gameplay is simple to grasp (apart from flying backwards), yet the game is more difficult than it first appears, with plenty of enemies relentlessly shooting at you. There are safety zones at which you can save your progress and top up your ammo and health, though it’s costly. I died numerous times, but the game is forgiving in that sense, since there are no lives; just jump back in and try again. This aspect is much more user friendly for mobile gaming.
Each mission is awarded a star rating – from one to three – based on your performance in time and damage. Earning one star is generally easy, but you’ll definitely have to repeat levels to earn more than that. With 30 levels, it doesn’t sound like the longest game, but each level is locked until you receive a minimum number of stars, which forces you to replay previous levels in order to proceed. So there is actually a lot of time to be spent getting through the game. Add to this collectibles throughout each level, and you could see yourself lose several hours here.
Dustoff is presented well, with simple, blocky graphics – think Minecraft. Some levels offer hindrances that vary the landscape, like clouds of dust that also affect your speed, and the locations vary slightly with their terrain, like desert, snow and jungle themes. One thing I found odd was the lack of touch controls on the menus. The number of times I tried to press an on-screen button with my finger, only to see no response, is incredible. The game has mobile origins, so I feel like this feature should have come across too.
Overall, despite a terrible name and a bumpy start, Dustoff Heli Rescue II is a decent little game for the Switch. I found enjoyment here, more than I expected, but I may not have persisted had I not been reviewing it. The controls are a little iffy, but levels are relatively short and sweet enough to make this a great on-the-go game. Despite some flaws, which keep the game from being great, there is definitely fun to be had here.
Review: Dustoff Heli Rescue II (Nintendo Switch)
Despite a bumpy start, Dustoff Heli Rescue II is a decent little game for the Switch. I found more enjoyment here than I expected, and it’s also tougher than it seems at first glance. Despite some flaws, which keep the game from being great, there is definitely fun to be had here.