Published on February 13th, 2011 | by Kyle Spencer, Editor
Indie Review: Rotor
Release Date: February 9, 2011
ESRB Rating: NR
Developer: Pocket Starship
Platforms: Xbox 360 Arcade / Indie Game
Pocket Starship had one thought in mind when crafting Rotor and that was to create a physics-based game where people can race, modify and just have fun with. Rotor draws some heavy inspiration from Crazy Taxi, which I am sure some of us will remember. Pocket Starship designed a pretty environment, and I believe that is what they were truly intending on showing off with this 80 MS Point download. Think of Rotor as more of a tech demo that can be showed at conferences more so than a game. The core concept of Rotor is to fly a little helicopter around a visually interesting city to beat your past flight times, collect orbs and achieve the best flight accuracy.
Although Rotor is simple at it’s core, the controls are not.
From the very start you will notice that Rotor is stylish. Built using Softimage, Rotor‘s city is colorful, organic and lavish. From the very start you have the option to modify the city’s colors by choosing one from the color palette. You can alternate the way the city looks to you as you fly your little chopper around and by adjusting the color palette and you also change the color of your helicopter to match the city.
The core of Rotor‘s controls are very complicated. You steer the helicopter using your left analog stick, adjust the camera with your right, boost with the left bumper, boost with the right bumper and gain altitude by holding the left trigger. You can maintain altitude and hover using the left trigger. Getting the camera to work for me became a real pain after a little while, but like Bad Company 2, it just takes some getting used to. You can invert the “Y” axis if you wish through the options menu, but if your like me I left at default. I dislike inverting.
Rotor doesn’t seem to offer much re-playability to it. As I stated before the game seems to be more and more like a tech demo used to show off what certain studios can do. Sure you can race through rings, collect orbs and try to be as accurate as you can in flight, but everything you do is timed. You goals is to achieve the highest goal you can but sadly enough there isn’t much in the way of competition. There is no online leaderboard, so when your trying to achieve the best goal you’re only competing with yourself.
(Sad thing is it took me 20 minutes to hit my first ring!)
The Final Truth:
Rotor is an interesting game to look at in a visual sense. The physics are interesting, considering flying a helicopter is not one of my strong suits. From a technical stand point the game is an accomplishment for Pocket Starship. From a game stand point, it’s a one time playthrough and done. What the studio can build on with the tech cemented can be very interesting in the future, and had they implemented shooting, or even changed the style to be more of a helicopter rescue game. That would have presented Rotor as more of a game than a tech demo. Pocket Starship got one thing right with this release. They can create a very solid tech demo, but not a game. Not yet.
+ Visually creative
+ Interesting aesthetic
– Complicated controls
– Next to no replayability
– No online leaderboards