Monday, December 8, 2014

Rollers of the Realm (PS4/Vita) Review

Rollers of the Realm combines pinball with some traditional RPG elements.  You get experience, gold, can buy equipment... you get the idea.  The premise is pretty cool.  As a big fan of Puzzle Quest, I was excited to try another "combine X with an RPG" which, in this case, an video pinball game.

Unfortunately, I forgot that video pinball games have pretty bad physics.  In fact, I do this pretty often.  I like pinball, but don't want to pay to play it in arcades, since the time you play is mostly decided by random luck.  So, video pinball is a much cheaper alternative.  However, the physics are always just a little off, which quickly ruins the experience for me.  Plus, it's hard to get the length of pinball on a screen that is stretched the other direction.  That could actually work on the Vita version, but the actual areas are not designed for it, so it's not even an option.

Anyway, Rollers of the Realm unfortunately also suffers this fate.  The physics feel off, and the screen aspect ratio works against you.  There are stages that have multiple areas, which is neat, and there is a good variety of stages to boot.  Though, they do like to put obstacles, mainly enemies, close enough to your paddles that they can easily smack your ball down the hold.  Add some player-unfriendly design to the wonky physics, and you get a equation of frustration.

To make things a little better, you can hire other characters and buy equipment for your party.  Each piece of equipment shows what stats it effects, but there is no explanation of what each stat actually does.  I think I figured most out after playing the game awhile and matching things up, but it's not very intuitive.  Plus, I wasn't sure how to equip things, or even if I had to.  There are some similar pieces (like different weapons) for some characters, and I have to assume the effects stack, since it didn't seem like I had to equip anything.

Goals for levels aren't always stated from the start, but it's usually "kill guys until you can continue".  There are a good amount of stages in the game, so trudging through the game should get you your money's worth.  Sadly, the bulk of your play time will be retrying stages after dying (again), or replaying them for more money to buy equipment or extra party members.  Thankfully, each party member counts as a life in the game, and you can resurrect people if you get enough mana.  The trophies can also take awhile... at least 10 hours.  I say that since there's one for playing the game for 600 minutes.  Yuck.  Plus, if you are a platinum hunter, the trophy spread of the game is for a downloadable, so the highest you get is one gold trophy.

I'm sure there are people out there who would enjoy the game.  If you are fine with the hit or miss physics in video pinball games, then go ahead and play Rollers of the Realm.  If unreliable gameplay or random deaths annoy you, stay away.  I found the game more frustrating than fun, and was let down when I finally had a chance to play it.  The concept is neat, but the execution needs work.

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