Rollers of the Realm Review

2014-11-16-102318

Title: Rollers of the Realm
Developer: Phantom Compass, Atlus
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 325 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

When you think of the game developer Atlus, and games for the PS Vita, what do you think of?  Odds are that you will think of RPGs.  Atlus has brought a few games to the PS Vita, most of which are held in high regard.  Game’s like Dragon’s Crown, or a game that is considered as one of the Vita’s and Atlus’ best games to date, Persona 4 Golden.  No matter what platform you’re on, though, you think of Atlus and RPGs come to mind.  Persona.  Shin Megami Tensei.  Catherine.  Etrian Odyssey.  Almost everything Atlus has to do with are RPGs.

Atlus has also dealt with publishing titles that aren’t quite RPGs, but aren’t quite other games either.  In recent times, notably this week, they have released a game that is RPG-like, but at the same time, it’s something else.  They’ve been treading on somewhat new water with new types of genres and smaller developing companies.  In actuality, their newly-released title on PC, PS4, and the PS Vita is an indie game, but has their name publishing it.

As we dive into Atlus’ new RPG-like game, we think of cross-genres.  What hasn’t been done before?  There have been shooters with RPG elements.  Action games with RPG elements.  One of the genres that you would never even think to do they have done.  As we come further in this, here is our official review of the pinball RPG hybrid, Rollers of the Realm!

Story

2014-11-16-102332

Despite being a pinball game at heart, Rollers of the Realm does have a story, which is the main driving force throughout the main campaign of the game.  You won’t just be knocking pinballs around boards for no reason.  As you do these, a story will unfold that is straight from what you’d expect of an RPG.

Rollers of the Realm takes you to a medieval setting and stars a thief who travels from town to town with her pet dog in search of food, gold, and more.  Upon coming to a particular town, she finds herself getting involved with a drunken knight and assaulting the town Blacksmith to rescue her poor dog.  Gaining allies along the way, she finds herself on a journey all across the kingdom to show a plot against outlaw camps, corrupt kings, and more.

The story isn’t as deep as you would expect from an Atlus title, but it’s enough to keep you interested as you play through the game, and makes you want to try harder to get through that next stage, so you can see what happens next.  There’s not a lot of character development, but there is enough to get you familiar with the characters.

Gameplay

2014-11-18-120951

Despite all of the RPG-like elements involved, this game is a Pinball game.  While it doesn’t play exactly like your standard pinball game, it’s still a pinball game.  You won’t be fighting epic turn-based battles against opposing parties, but the combat you do will be within the standard pinball gameplay you would expect from any sort of pinball games, but with its own little twist.  In the end, you will want to be a fan of pinball to play this game.

The game has a couple different game modes to choose from, all available from the beginning of the game (though some features must be unlocked later on).  The choices on the Main Menu are Campaign, Arena, Settings, and Cross-Save.  The first two are game modes, and the latter two are settings you can change and Cross-Save to enable save data to be downloaded and used in the PlayStation 4 version of the game.

Campaign Mode has you playing through the story.  There are six locations across the World Map, 5 of which will be played through in the various chapters of the game’s story.  In this mode, each area has a set number of stages to pass through, averaging about 6-8 per chapter.  Each of these is a pinball table in the form of a field or environment like a town, forest, mountain valley, castle stronghold, and more.  You follow a path from stage to stage until you progress and clear the chapter’s story, and can move onto the next area.  There is also a Port on the map, where you can upgrade your characters and recruit new party members.

When you’re inside a stage, you will have various pinballs to choose from to play with.  Each pinball represents a character and class in your party.  As you play through the game, you will be able to recruit many different characters and classes, from the Rogue and Knight you start with to the Healer and Hunter you can recruit later on in the game.  Each character has different abilities and has a different pinball of speed, strength, and size.  For example, the Knight is a much larger pinball and moves slower, but causes more damage when it hits enemies.

Characters also have special abilities that they can use as they collect Mana by hitting objects on the pinball table.  For example, the Rogue can summon her dog to fight alongside her and the Healer can revive fallen party members whom have fallen down under the table’s flippers.  Utilizing each character’s ability is key to winning each and every table.

2014-11-16-155923

The stages, themselves, represent puzzles and challenges.  Some tables will have you traversing mazes, using the various flippers and objects to your advantage.  Other stages require you to fight off enemies by hitting them from the front or behind (if they can parry or block attacks) to open the way to the next area.  Each stage is different and some can contain several pinball tables in a single stage.  The game gets more and more complex the further you go in.

Upon clearing a stage, you are rewarded gold and experience points.  These are used in the Port to upgrade characters or recruit new characters into your party.  You can also revisit any stage you’ve already cleared if you want to get some more gold and experience racked up before tackling the Boss Fight of your current Chapter. You’ll keep this up until you clear the story.

Arena Mode is the other game mode, where you can go into a never-ending stage, where you constantly fight off enemies and collect gold until all of your lives have been used up and you can no longer revive party members.  This has about six stages in it, and scores here and in Campaign can be uploaded to online Leaderboards, so you can compete with friends for a high score.

Just because of a pinball game, don’t expect the game to be easy.  I used to play Windows Pinball for hours upon hours back in the day, and I had a lot of trouble with this game.  Not only are you keeping your pinball on the table, but you’re also fighting enemies whom can attack your flippers to make them smaller.  Having the smaller flippers from enemy attacks along with having to watch several pinballs on the board at once in some stages can make this game very difficult, even more pinball aficionados.  Expect the game to be a challenge

As far as length goes, each stage doesn’t take an immense amount of time.  In story, the stages start to take a couple minutes to beat and will slowly get more length.  All in all, past the dozens of stages, expect the game to last you somewhere between 7 and 10 hours, depending on how easily you can adjust to the different types of stages and how to fight off the enemies that are in your way.  It’s not an especially long game, but it’s not bad for a pinball game.

Controls

Controlling this game is no technical task.  Since this is a pinball game, there is only so much you can do.  While there are little twists and turns, you won’t be using many buttons on the system.  First of all, there are some touch-only features that are used to cycle through the menus.  Because of this and that the game has yet to get an update for such feature, the game is not currently playable on the PlayStation TV.  If you want to play the game on your big screen, the only way to do it is with the PS4 version of the game that comes with this one.

In stages, the controls are simple.  You can use the Left Analog Stick to cycle through your current character before you launch them and you use the Right Analog Stick to pull back the spring to release them into the table.  When in the table, you will be using the L and R buttons to control the flippers, and can use the Left Analog Stick to slightly move the pinball to the left or right as it flies through the table.

Other than that, there aren’t a lot of controls to see.  It’s not a very technical control scheme, but it works well for what it is.

Presentation

2014-11-16-104132

The visual presentation of the game is done rather well.  The artistic design of the characters is done in a watercolor-type design, making it look more authentic for the medieval setting.  The game is also fully voiced and has a well-done English dub on the game.  English is the only option, though.  There is no Japanese or other languages available.

The visuals of the boards is done in a 3D fashion.  While the renders of enemies and the pinballs isn’t perfect, the camera’s placement of the game makes it far enough away from the character models that they look very crisp and clear, especially in the midst of the fast-paced chaos of playing the game.  The game looks and plays well, offering very short load times and no lag of any sort.

Summary

Rollers of the Realm is a mixup of genres that’s not been done before.  It’s a pinball game, but it’s also an RPG, one of those “How did they even come up with this?” notions.  It works well, though, offering a fun pinball game with plenty of RPG customization and an interesting story to keep you playing and fighting the increasing difficulty of the boards.  While the game doesn’t last long, and the difficulty is maddening and chaotic at times, it’s a fun ride for any pinball or casual RPG fans. 

8/10

Related Posts