Published on September 30th, 2011 | by Cameron Woolsey
Developer: Dancing Dots
Platform: Xbox LIVE Arcade
MSRP: 800 MSP ($10)
Release Date: Sept. 21, 2011
This could quite possibly be the easiest review I’ve ever written–not because I plan to be lazy about it (OK, not just because). But because, simply put, Rotastic is an game that takes a minimalist approach, even by XBLA standards, maintaining fun and challenging gameplay, while at the same time being deceptively complex.
Rotastic is an action-puzzler that has features a company like PopCap would be proud call its own: bright, cartoon graphics with addicting gameplay and progress that is heavily points-driven. The object of the entire game is yelled by the announcer the second the game starts up: “It’s simple, get everything!”
Dropping you into the game world, you use a rope and grapple to latch onto a floating peg and start swinging in a circle. Releasing the rope at the right time will launch your character across the screen. To finish a level, you must collect enough of the jewels floating in mid-air within a time limit. Sometimes these shiny goodies are placed in a complete circle around a peg, or as a trail leading from one peg to the next. The game takes near-perfect timing when the rope is released or latched to a peg if you want to snatch the elusive booty and not fly off the bottom of the map, knocking off your limited lives.
Momentum and inertia have a role in accuracy, but you don’t need to be a physics master in order to get the most points possible. It just takes practice–a lot of practice. Skill, sharply honed, is the difference between getting all the goods as quickly as possible or flying off into oblivion, the precious jewels you had tried to reach mocking you as you pass.
The game starts off easy but progressively becomes more challenging. After easing players into the swinging mechanics,the gameplay begins to evolve. Soon, players must use pinpoint accuracy to ricochet from reflective walls, dodge spinning razor blades and bear arm cannons (really) and spiked walls, knock over wooden supports to open rooms, watch for exploding pegs and jewel-eating birds, get stuck in slimy substances and try not to catch on fire–it’s a mess out there. The game will even go a different approach with a level such as making it resemble a block breaker game. Boss battles infrequently break up the action, usually forcing the player to collect as as many of the jewels as possible before the boss can.
Completing a level wins you a shiny new helmet as the completion medal. Simply finishing a level grants the bronze helmet, which can be compared to a pat on the back. Getting the goods at a quicker time will earn you the silver helmet and above that, the gold helmet. The final helmet, the Ultimate Helmet, is the most difficult to win. The game won’t even reveal how many points are needed to get it. Each of the game’s seven worlds are unlocked via helmets. Getting the right amount will unlock each consecutive world. At first, only getting bronze helmets will grant passage to the early worlds. Later, getting as many helmets as possible is the only way to unlock the game’s 70 levels. Skilled players will need to learn how to not only collect jewels for points, but pull off fancy mid-air moves as well such as a figure-eight between two pegs. Playing also unlocks color schemes for you character and other characters such as an elf, a pig that uses a sausage for a weapon (which it occasionally gnaws on) and a skeleton known simply as “Death Himself.”
Rotastic supports a multiplayer mode, but it takes the conservative approach there as well by only offering it offline. Multiplayer included two game modes, four maps and support for up to four players who must either collect the most jewels or fight to the death. The multiplayer is not the major draw for the game, but it’s a fun, simple distraction for those who want to swing it with friends.
Rotastic is a colorful, fun and challenging little game that should delight fans of casual games. If you’re not up for the harsh challenge in later levels, it might not be for you, but if you enjoy replaying levels in order to get that elusive high score, Rotastic doesn’t disappoint. With 70 levels and an optional multiplayer, the game is the perfect distraction between major platform releases. If angry Vikings, cannibalistic pigs and floating jewels tickle your fancy, latch onto Rotastic and swing away.
+ Fun, addictive gameplay
– Limited multiplayer