Stamp Rally Escape 3
It has been months of waiting with our intrepid heroes in limbo, searching for any sort of word that their epic struggle against a vast mysterious organization will conclude happily. Months of pacing and nail biting, months of searching the net for any scrap or clue as to what the outcome will be. Are we talking about the long-awaited X-Men prequel? The last episode of "Lost"? No, silly, we're talking about the other epic struggle that has taken over the internet, that of Wan and Nyan the jumping dog and punching cat to find the last ten punches needed to get their last gold stamp and their promised really special grand prize. What, you haven't been waiting on the edge of your seat for the conclusion to Cogito Ergo Sum's vast panorama of a room escape, Stamp Rally Escape 3? No? Just me?
Regardless, Wan and Nyan are back again for the grand finale of the Stamp Rally Escape series. To catch up those who may have not seen the first two, here's a brief summary: A postcard delivered by a bouncing mailbox from the mysterious RIDLRIDL Corporation has come into the possession of our intrepid heroes and it poses a challenging quest, the quest for...green stamps. Okay, it sounds rather lame, but seriously, it's an epic quest! In each game the jumping dog and punching cat must use their abilities and their brains to find the ten green stamps which, at the end of the game, they trade in for a precious gold stamp. They know, you see, if they complete the task and turn in three gold stamps they will win a really cool prize. Seriously. I mean, that's what RIDLRIDL promised and a mysterious and anonymous company that contacts you via fourth-class post cards in your mailbox wouldn't lie, would they?
You move around the small room with the aid of arrows at the edges of the screen and simply click on anything that you would like to examine a little more closely. Click on a stamp and it will helpfully stamp itself on your card that is a permanent feature in your inventory. Pick up anything that isn't nailed down, use whatever you can find in the room not only to escape but to find those precious stamps, solve a few puzzles and before you know it the grand payoff is here. And the grand prize is...well, that would be telling, wouldn't it? Suffice it to say that there is a grand prize, although what that prize is depends upon whether you've found the "regular" or "happy" end of the game. Hey, at least there's an end. I was almost expecting something like "you need to collect 30 more stamps..."
Items that you pick up goes into an inventory on the right side of the screen, click once to use an item or twice to examine it in close up. There's a handy mute feature for the sound effects but no background tune playing, so you might not even notice the feature. There is also a handy save button which is nice if you're hankering to see both finales. This is all basic room escaping stuff with one exception, a changing cursor, which would have been nice and eliminated the minor amount of pixel hunting contained within the game.
Analysis: At last, the blessed relief of a conclusion to this epic saga has arrived! Cogito Ergo Sum has really brought this charming tale to a strong finish with Stamp Rally Escape 3. The puzzles are logical, amusing, numerous, and sometimes color-based. The prize for the "regular" end is just as disappointing as expected, while the prize for the "happy" end is actually pretty darn cool and something most folks would be pretty happy to win. The characterizations of Wan and Nyan are even more vivid with the cat practically jumping out of his skin with impatience to finish the task while the hapless dog suffers embarrassment for his overeager friend. While Cogito Ergo Sum's escapes have always had personality, Stamp Rally Escape 3 has almost an overabundance of it.
The design of this mysterious room is pretty standard for Cogito Ergo Sum: Light, pastel colors, traditional Japanese fixtures, flat, cartoony background and characters. You will also be faced with an "Engrish" translation that is actually better than usual for their games. With such amusing characters, crazy antics, fun puzzles and the like Stamp Rally Escape 3 is a pretty good game on its own and a nice way to end the series.
Do we find out more about the mysterious RIDLRIDL corporation and why they chose to challenge two domestic house pets to this epic craziness? Sadly, no, although you still get a pretty gratifying ending, even the "regular" one. The puzzles flow nicely from one to the next and the animals' special talents for jumping and punching are on display front and center several times around the room. All in all a nice, satisfying conclusion to the series, leaving the room escaper happy and content, at least until Cogito Ergo Sum's next epic trilogy.