Video game villains are a peculiar bunch. Despite having armies of mindlessly loyal minions, a wealth of resources at their disposal and a twisted mind hell-bent on all things evil, many ignore the lure of controlling a corrupt corporation or pursuing world domination; instead they show psychopathic obsessions with capturing unfortunate protagonist’s girlfriends, pooling all their efforts into keeping them away from our heroes. Bowser, Donkey Kong, the Shadow Warriors; all determined to get between the player and their pixellated other half. Even villainous colourful round balls are prone to the occasional spouse-stealing, setting up the premise for Rolling Hero, the latest game from developers Gameplay Squad.
Renowned for their web-based flash games, Gameplay squad port the Rolling Hero game to iOS with improved visuals and gameplay. The concept for Rolling Hero is unique – instead of controlling the main character players must touch either side of their screen to rotate the level, moving the hero around towards the exit. Before each level can be passed a key must be collected to unlock the exit portal and flowers can be picked up to improve the section’s score. A gradual learning curve introduces new gameplay elements to up the challenge, including spikes, flames, time-pickups and more. These levels are spread across four themed worlds (the generic offerings are here: forest, snow, desert and lava) with 12 levels in each.
A bonus world can also be unlocked by collecting letters of ‘Rolling Hero’ scattered throughout the game. Annoyingly the levels these are in aren’t sign-posted, so going back and collecting them can be time-consuming. Thankfully the reward for the hard work is just as it’s a full-blown twelve-level world, much harder than any of the previous four.
Although the concept for Rolling Hero is ambitious, it’s execution is disappointingly flawed. Moving the level to navigate is a refreshing change but the in-game physics make it difficult to control; it is often hard to judge how the main character will fall. It doesn’t move completely independently of the map but it is hard to tell how it moves in relation to the player’s rotations. Momentum is also often an issue and the more delicate movements can be frustrating, often resulting in rolling into spikes.
Despite a good amount of levels and well-designed difficulty curve, Rolling Hero is a bit on the short and easy side. Other than the bonus world no levels are difficult to pass and even collecting all the flowers isn’t too much of an issue. With most levels lasting less than 30 seconds and few needing to be replayed more than three or four times, it is quite easy to blast through the game in a couple of sessions. An annoying feature is that for the few levels that do take a few attempts to complete, the game feels the need to remind the player of the option to unlock all levels via micro-transactions after a few failures.
The chirpy tunes accompanying game play varies with each world and fits in with the theme, giving each a slightly different feel. Visually Rolling Hero is nice, with cute and bright graphics and characters throughout. The backdrops are also nicely designed and animated and also never distract from the puzzling action in the foreground.
Rolling Hero isn’t the worst game in the world, nor it is a must-buy. Although not perfectly-executed, the level-rotating puzzling action is enough to keep commuters and students busy for short bursts in both trains and classrooms alike. Although not a way to spend lengthy sessions, Rolling Hero does provide a way to blast away short and sharp gaming sessions.
+ Fresh puzzle gameplay
– Physics engine makes movement fiddly
+ Bright design
+ Each world has its own theme
+ Chirpy soundtrack compliments the level themes