Rotastic Review (XBLA)

Game Review: Rotastic
Release: 9/21/11
Genre: Puzzle/Action
Developer: Dancing Dots
Available Platforms: Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, PC
Players: 1-4 Offline
MSRP: 800 Microsoft Points
ESRB Rating: T

Medieval times were so much simpler. You could acquire gold in vast quantities, fight dragons at your leisure, and swing around ropes. Wait, that’s not how it goes? In the world of Rotastic, a viking, elf, boar, and skeleton will do just such a thing in this easy to pick up, hard to master genre mashup.

Rotastic has a very simple premise. Your character will appear from a hole in one of the walls of the world, and must latch onto connection points to swing around the stage. Stages are littered with point-earning items, various enemies, traps, and the like. Once the level’s mission is complete, whether it be acquire all the valuables, out swing and enemy, destroy blocks, or just survive, you make an exit towards the newly-opened door. Nearly 70 levels mix up the gameplay, but the mechanic stays simple.

Effectively controlled with two buttons (one to latch and detach, the other to rotate your spin if you want or need to), the game is simplistic yet deep. Some levels, especially once you figure out how to tackle them, can be beaten in minutes. Some might require a few tries, but such levels are more rewarding. A simple point-system based on time, score, and the like determines the kind of ranking you get, and a higher ranking is required to unlock later levels.

Rotastic, at it’s core, has found a very simple game mechanic that dozens of games have used over the years, and mastered it. Much like it’s spiritual relatives Peggle and Angry Birds, there’s a pick-up-and-play aspect that’s mastered here. Core game functionality is covered in the first few levels, and advanced point techniques are explained down the road. Rotastic also shines in it’s ability to turn the mechanic into different games; some are simple targeting towards items, others are straight-out modifications of Breakout, and even a rudimentary battle system comes into play.

All this fun doesn’t hide the fact that there a few obvious and important improvements that could be made. All four characters play the same, and only have different animations. This would be a great chance to swap in some different and simple gameplay chance; different tensile strength of the rope, different weights that affect flight, and so forth would vary up gameplay significantly. On top of this, there’s no online multiplayer, and the map selection for offline is lacking down to four stages. While a co-op mode would get challengingly fun, it’s understandably not on the menu. When half of the game can be flown through in a matter of an hour or so, there’s not much depth to it; sure, levels can be replayed until mastered, and many will be replayed just to unlock later ones, but it’s not the same.

  • Easy to grasp core mechanic
  • Lack of online multiplayer hurts
  • Varied abilities would improve variety

Final Score
7 out of 10

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