Rollers of the Realm Reviews

AuthorReview
Titanium Dragon
87,413
Titanium Dragon
TSA Score for this game: 539
Posted on 18 September 17 at 10:36
This review has 1 positive vote and 1 negative vote. Please log in to vote.
Rollers of the Realm is a pinball game with RPG elements, thereby proving that absolutely anything can have RPG elements attached to it. The characters in the game are represented by pinballs, and the levels are pinball tables, with enemies standing around in them and environments to navigate via the power of flippers.

The game is, at its heart, pretty simple mechanically – you can flip the left-hand flippers or right-hand flippers, there’s a button for pulling back the spring and shooting the ball into the system, that same button is used for deploying special abilities, and the movement of the ball can be influenced by pushing to the side on the control sticks.

Where the game gets interesting is in the balls themselves; each of the represents a different character, and each has somewhat different characteristics. The balls aren’t all of the same size – two are smaller than the rest, and two are larger. Some of the balls have ranged attacks, making it so that they deal damage to enemies merely by going nearby – but they don’t just deal damage in an aura, they fire an attack every so often at enemies as they fly on by. Some deal more damage to enemies if they hit them in the back; others will gather more mana from the environment. Each ball also has a unique special ability, be it summoning multiple balls, creating a stopper on the bottom of the screen to stop the ball from falling off, or powering up the ball in some way to make it deal more damage or be more maneuverable.

Like an RPG, the player has a mana bar, which is incremented by hitting various objects in the environment, as well as some character abilities creating mana by attacking enemies. Rather than having a conventionally limited number of lives, every time a ball ends up falling out the bottom of the map, the player temporarily loses access to the character whose ball just rolled out. Characters can be swapped between while the ball is trapped on a flipper or in the spring launcher, and many missions are much easier if you use the right balls to solve your problems.

The enemies themselves don’t just twiddle their thumbs in all cases, either – some of them will actively attack the flippers in various ways, breaking them and making them smaller (and thus, making it much harder to keep yours in play). The player will generally want to avoid this as much as possible, and some of the pinballs also have various healing abilities to repair the flippers. These attacks range from enemies walking down to the bottom of the screen and physically attacking the paddles, to throwing ranged attacks at them (which can be intercepted by your balls, though it will deflect the balls), to throwing flaming fireballs down which burn the paddles when they touch them but which can be shot back into the playing field like normal balls.

The goal of most maps is to kill all the enemies, but some of the maps mix this up by instead requiring you to navigate a hard-to-navigate section, make a few trick shots, break through a wall by repeatedly hitting it with a ball, or otherwise navigate through the levels. The maps also often include secrets, which give extra gold to the player for completing them, as well as a unique item for a character which can’t be bought in stores.

Between missions, gold can be spent on the characters to upgrade their abilities, and you can also hire new balls (i.e. new characters) to add to your team.

The game has a fairly decent variety of balls in a sense, but ultimately the game really breaks down into four kinds of balls – ranged attack balls, melee balls, highly maneuverable balls, and healing balls. While there are ten characters all told, I mostly ended up using just a few of the balls to complete the game, with the rest mostly serving as backup lives in case I lost a bunch of balls.

All of the above might describe what the game is like, but is it actually fun? I have to admit I found myself enjoying it – pinball has always been interesting to me, and the blend of RPG mechanics with pinball was an interesting idea. Some of the maps are kind of bland, but others are pretty interesting, and lead to some interesting navigational challenges or otherwise pushing me to attack the enemies. There are a few boss fights in the game, and the last couple in particular felt fairly interesting – the very final battle is actually a three part boss fight, where the player must figure out how to beat each increasingly more difficult stage.

If I had a complaint, it would be that the game has a few overly long levels – in particular, one level where enemies carrying torches attack a castle requires you to navigate through the level’s first half, then hold off the enemies for a while. If you fail at the end, you have to start the whole thing over again, which is a bit tedious.

The game also spikes up a bit in difficulty at the end, which encourages the player to grind a bit – the final boss is genuinely difficult, and it can be worth grinding out some extra gold on past tables to improve the balls, which is kind of boring to do.

That being said, overall the game’s difficulty wasn’t bad at all, and it felt like a reasonable but not overwhelming challenge on the harder of the game’s two difficulty modes.

Overall, the game took about 8 hours to beat, and I think had it lasted significantly longer than that, I would have been unhappy with it; indeed, it was starting to wear out its welcome before the final battle, as I was trying to get a few extra pieces of equipment to set myself up for the end. But in the end, I walked away satisfied; it was different enough to be interesting, the pinball puzzles were on the whole reasonable, and it wasn’t overly difficult or easy. If you want a rather different experience, and you enjoy pinball, this might just be up your alley; if you’ve never played a pinball game, this isn’t a terrible place to start. But if you don’t like pinball, I doubt this will change your mind.
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