In Roogoo you shoo through few new… alright, the rhyming puns can’t be kept up forever, but in this shape-dropping puzzler they sure try their hardest to keep them coming.
On planet Roo, King Goo (see what I mean?) starts stealing the meteors that fall from the sky, which are the sources of life, joy and peace for the planet. After consuming them, King Goo transforms into King Moo (…). The citizens of Roo begin transforming from Roogoo into Meemoo (argh!) and start eating all the meteors and their cities. King Moo’s son, Prince Moo, is tasked with collecting all the remaining meteors, and Roo-cuz, the hip-hop rainbow Roo is your guide to help you with your quest.
The meteors appear as colored shapes. Your task is to rotate various circular platforms (using either your arrow keys or mouse buttons) with matching shaped holes so that the meteors fall through the correct holes and clear the hole on the bottom platform. To help you, a light circle highlights the hole that the shape (or stack of shapes) is falling onto.
There are five shapes: yellow stars, blue squares, green triangles, red cylinders and pink hearts. About halfway through the game’s 45 levels, the shapes begin to get shades of color – darker and lighter – and must be stacked with like shades touching.
Surely you didn’t think your quest would be that simple. Rogue Meemoo will appear to block holes. To defeat them, you must shoot your shapes at them faster (by pressing the down arrow or scroll wheel downwards) to bop them on the head. Sometimes, you’re forced to stop on a platform partway through, until you have a taller stack. Multiplier stars sometimes appear, which help the shapes to descend sooner. Lower platforms are randomly rotated between each completed drop, so you can’t necessarily memorize their order.
If stacks stop on platforms with flowers, butterflies will come and fly your stack upwards back through the platforms from the bottom. Other hazards include stoppers which open and close over a hole, Ninja Moo with glowing swords who slice your stacks, and flipping platforms.
After completing a round, you are scored on accuracy percentage, lost shapes (if you didn’t line them up over the correct hole or were broken by a baddie), time, accuracy bonus and a final score. Every so often, the game gives you a level bonus round, where you quickly collect falling shapes. But watch out for Prince Moo! Every time you make a mistake, a lose meter begins to grow, and if it fills up, you lose.
Roogoo is certainly very pretty. It’s a very happy, boppy title, with bright, cheerful graphics, cuteness to the nines and many puns on the letters “oo”. There are many locales, including outer space, meadows, cityscapes and a lava-filled volcano. It’s a very interesting concept, and has a lot of potential. However, the game is just not as fun to play as it sounds due to the fact that there are a lot of little things that turn it into a chore.
At first, it’s hard to know if the stack you’ve made is going to continue downward because they pause momentarily on each platform. Worse, pressing down is a committed action; you can’t undo this or slow things down. Many times, I pressed down thinking I was on one platform when the game had passed me on to the next, causing me to lose my entire stack. Here, if it isn’t necessary to defeat an enemy, pressing down not worth doing unless you’re impatient.
Much of the game suffers from depth-perception problems. 2x stars are hard to detect in the 3D space. The circle of light is hard to see sometimes, especially when the stacks get larger. The bottom platform has a unique angle to it that makes some of the holes very hard to make out.
However, the worst offence Roogoo commits is many of its “challenges” are arbitrary. Ninja Moo, for example, can only be defeated when their swords are not glowing. If every hole is covered by a Ninja Moo, and all their swords are glowing, there’s nothing you can do to stop losing your stack. Stoppers, which are metal hatches that open and close in unison, sometimes obscure the shape of the hole, rendering it invisible. (A simple solution would be to make them semi-transparent.)
In order to succeed at Roogoo, you need to have decent reflexes, especially when multiple stacks are barreling down on you. Gamers who don’t like twitchy games make not want to play the later levels.
To Roogoo‘s credit, the multiplayer option is nice, with handicaps that make 2x stars appear more frequently and allow Moo attacks to make Moos appear on your opponent’s board so that players of different skill levels can play together. Every level is available without having unlocked it in single-player mode first. But coupled with the earlier stated problems, and with them being on only half a screen, the fun doesn’t last long.
And that’s Roogoo‘s biggest problem. On paper, it sounds like such a sure thing. But reality isn’t nearly as fun as it sounds. It’s a great idea but bogged down with little flaws that drag the whole experience down. But, try it out and see if Roogoo glues to you. (Hmm, I guess there were some puns left after all.)