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Rollers of the Realm (PC) Review

By Ian Soltes 17.11.2014

Review for Rollers of the Realm on PC

Of all the genres in all of gaming who would have thought that pinball and RPGs would have mixed so well. Rollers of the Realm, developed by Phantom Compass and published by Atlus USA, is a surprising game with some amazing and well thought-out gameplay mechanics that struggle a bit with some issues regarding a few unbalanced mechanics.

When thinking of pinball, normally thoughts go back to the old days, sitting around in a musty arcade with lights blaring in the background, launching balls into a machine with, more often than not, little-to-no story involved. It only barely made the transfer into the digital age and has remained confined to a niche genre ever since for gamers once the arcades started to close down and vanish. However, Rollers of the Realm took a gamble with it, and boy did it pay off! Featuring what is, unquestionably, one of the more unique styles of gameplay for an RPG, Rollers of the Realm tries to blend role-playing and pinball mechanics, and scores. However, this intriguing play style also leads to several issues with the balance on the whole, as well as some overly tedious sections.

The story follows a young rogue living in a land that had previously been protected by three great warriors. The warriors, though, were defeated by a witch long ago and, ever since then constant warfare has engulfed the land. This constant fighting and struggling has taken the home and family of a rogue, forcing her to take up the life of a pickpocket to get by. One day, when she visits a small town, she saves a drunken knight out of the kindness of her heart only to end up losing her dog in the process, and thus kicks off a journey across the land.

Screenshot for Rollers of the Realm on PC

Rollers of the Realm's greatest strength is, by far and away, its distinctive gameplay. Party members are represented by balls on the field that are sent bouncing around to clear obstacles and defeat foes, dying by falling out between the flippers, with each pinball having its own unique properties and abilities. For example, the rogue is a fairly small pinball that can get knocked out easily, but if she can get behind a foe she will deal large amounts of damage by striking its back. If getting enough Mana, she can call upon her faithful puppy to engage in a multi-ball mode with him. For comparison, the knight is a fairly large and slow ball that receives no such bonuses yet deals a large amount of damage all around, has the ability to place a block between the flippers, and is a fairly large ball on the whole, making him hard to KO.

There are many other classes, as well. The healer restores the strength of any wounded flippers with ease, the ranger is constantly shooting arrows at any nearby targets, and so on, and so-forth. This means that, surprisingly, there is quite a bit of depth to the choice of what ball to use, although sadly not enough to overcome one key failing: the game is unbalanced and has some simply unfair sections in it.

The healer, with her ability to restore any damaged flippers, will quickly become one of the most valuable party members simply for this ability. Losing the healer may as well be a 'Game Over' in some of the levels because the flippers will break quickly without her. On the converse, someone like the Crone, who needs a lot of Mana in order to activate her ability and is largely useless otherwise, is pretty useless without steady Mana and upgrades to keep her in the game.

The game's special combat system also leads to two key flaws. Since a ball can be KO'ed by simply having them fall between the flippers, any fight against even easy foes can quickly go awry simply because of this happening. Against a boss it can be easy to lose an entire team simply due to a bit of bad luck with the flipper control (which restates the value of the Healer and her ability to keep the flippers whole). Secondly, since everything happens in pinball manner, if there is one foe left on a level and he's in a hard-to-hit place it doesn't matter if he is so weak that one hit from any of the balls can kill him, it can take several minutes to finally get the ball to hit him and losing a ball or two along the way becomes a frustrating reality.

Screenshot for Rollers of the Realm on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Honestly a game like this deserves a bit of praise. It set out with a goal many didn't even know existed, struggled uphill against unknown hurdles, and still managed to come out great. While the story may be short it never feels weary or too skimpy, while the gameplay can feel unfair at times it is also fun, and the game is simply fun on the whole, achieving the notable 'one more turn' feeling for most of the levels. It probably won't get people gushing over it, but there is no denying that it is well made and above average as well.

Developer

Phantom Compass

Publisher

Atlus

Genre

Table Games

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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