The gals reach a BreakThru with Pretty Girls Escape

We Love Pretty Girls and Boys header

Those Pretty Girls, the product of a very fruitful partnership between eastasiasoft and Zoo Corporation, are back once again with some more casual puzzling action — and this time, interestingly, it marks something of a return to Zoo Corporation’s roots, since Pretty Girls Escape can be looked upon as an adaptation of the company’s first ever game, BreakThru!

BreakThru! was originally released in 1994 for Windows and MS-DOS computers, with Super NES and Game Boy ports following shortly after, and Sega Saturn and PlayStation versions showing up a year later. It was originally developed by Steve Fry for Zoo Corporation; interestingly, North American publisher Spectrum Holobyte, who were one of the first people to publish Tetris in the west, positioned the game as “Alexey Pajitnov, Creator of Tetris Introduces BreakThru!”, despite Pajitnov having absolutely nothing to do with the game.

Pretty Girls Escape

BreakThru! itself is a clone of a Japanese puzzler called SameGame, also sometimes known as Chain Shot!, which originally appeared in 1985. It’s a simple concept — select two or more orthogonally adjacent tiles of the same colour to remove them from the board, repeat until the board is clear or an objective is complete — but it’s one that has very much stood the test of time, with numerous clones and adaptations over the years.

Pretty Girls Escape isn’t an exact clone of either BreakThru! or SameGame, despite featuring the same basic mechanics. Instead, it combines elements of SameGame with Klotski puzzles, whereby the aim is to slide one or more specific blocks out of the arrangement in order to solve the level. In the case of Pretty Girls Escape, these blocks are clearly distinguished from the coloured blocks by featuring images of the girls, and your aim is to slide them down to the bottom of the board and allow them to leave through a specifically marked exit.

The basic formula works well, but Pretty Girls Escape goes a step further by introducing a few additional mechanics along the way, too. One of the main things that will become particularly relevant in later levels is that unlike traditional SameGame-style puzzles, blocks do not automatically slide sideways to fill gaps; instead, you have the opportunity to slide the entire arrangement either left or right at will at any time. All blocks will slide in the direction you push until they hit something — the outer wall, another block or an obstacle.

Pretty Girls Escape

As you progress through Pretty Girls Escape’s series of levels, additional block types start to appear, usually to make your life more difficult. Initially, you’ll encounter “Wall” blocks, which are static obstacles that cannot be slid around or destroyed, meaning you’ll need to be careful not to “trap” the girl blocks above them with careless block removal.

As you progress, you’ll encounter keys that must be used to unlock the exits at the bottom of the board, wooden blocks that must be smashed by creating multiple adjacent matches, piston blocks that move other blocks around, spiked blocks that “kill” the character blocks, causing you to fail the puzzle, and more. There’s a really good difficulty curve as you play through the game’s levels — it starts simple and highly accessible, and becomes fiendishly difficult in its later stages.

To make matters more challenging, each stage in the main game mode of Pretty Girls Escape also offers you two missions to complete, with in-game currency on offer for successfully completing them. These earned points can be used in the game’s Dressing Room feature to unlock new outfits and backgrounds, which can then be used with the Diorama feature to create your own custom scenes with the girls.

Pretty Girls Escape

The missions have a number of different possible objectives. Sometimes you’ll be required to destroy a minimum number of blocks of a specific colour; at other times you’ll have to complete the level in less than a set number of moves; elsewhere, you’ll have to complete the stage in a set time. And, more often than not, you’ll have to combine these objectives together so that, say, you clear a stage having removed 50 pink blocks from the board while taking less than 50 moves to do so.

Alongside the main game mode and its missions is a “Challenge” mode, which is akin to the “Puzzle” mode often found in ’90s puzzle games. Here, you’re given an arrangement that requires a very specific set of moves to clear successfully, and thus you’ll have to think much more carefully about how you slide and remove the blocks. This mode starts difficult and only gets harder from there, so be sure to familiarise yourself with the overall feel of the game in the main mode first of all!

Pretty Girls Escape is one of the best Pretty Girls games to date. The gameplay is solid and well-implemented and the difficulty curve in the main game mode is excellently paced. It would have perhaps been nice for the Challenge mode to start a little more gently, but in its current form it feels like an expert-level mode for veterans to take on, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Even if you never touch the Challenge mode, the main game mode will definitely keep you busy for a while.

Pretty Girls Escape

On a technical level, the game looks and sounds great, with the only minor niggle being that the stage music doesn’t stop while the end-level jingle plays, and this can sometimes lead to clashing musical sounds. Hardly a game-breaking issue, but it would be nice to see this polished in a patch at some point.

My only other real criticism of Pretty Girls Escape is that I maybe question its longevity a little. There do not appear to be online leaderboards implemented, so you can’t compete against others for the best score at a stage — though your own best score and time for each stage are both recorded, so you can at least compete against yourself. It would also be nice to see some sort of “Endless” mode implemented — perhaps a more direct adaptation of BreakThru! — as this would definitely keep people coming back after clearing all the stages.

But then it’s worth remembering that Pretty Girls Escape is, like its stablemates, a $6 game — and at that price, you’re definitely getting more than your money’s worth, particularly when you consider that 25 years ago, a game like this would have cost much more at retail!

Pretty Girls Escape is available for PS4/5 and Nintendo Switch. Find out more at the official website.

Join The Discussion

Rice Digital Discord
Rice Digital Twitter
Rice Digital Facebook

Or write us a letter for the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page by clicking here!

Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on them. This is at no additional cost to you and helps support Rice Digital!

Pete Davison
Spread the love!

Related post

This will close in 0 seconds