A brilliant concept damaged by a plodding pace.
Wubbas love to move. They love it so much, in fact, that they absolutely refuse to stop. That’s where you come in: using an innovative new use of the touch screen and a combination of arrows, you need to guide a lonely wubba across a series of platforms to the eventual exit. The problem? Wubbas may love to move, but they move really slowly.
An interesting new take on puzzle platforming, Roll Out has players controlling a series of arrows as they scroll across the screen. The arrows scroll from right to left, and the player can speed those arrows up by dragging their finger across the screen. Doing this will put these arrows in front of the wubba at the right time, causing him to jump up to the next platform.
The movement of the arrows is the only thing in the player’s control. Sometimes an arrow will be coming up that you don’t want the wubba to engage in – touching your finger to the screen makes the arrows invisible, and he’ll walk right past. As the game progresses you’ll discover new arrows that speed the wubba up and slow the wubba down, sections of stages where the wubba can’t engage with the arrows no matter what, and even platforms that can only be activated when other criteria are met. A great deal of variety is thrown your way over the course of the included 50 levels.
On paper, Roll Out is a fantastic experience in the world of puzzle platforming. The levels are challenging, new elements are always being thrown your way, and the wubba simply couldn’t be cuter. But the game has one fatal flaw that turns this experience from exceptional to unbearable; its unforgiving slowness.
Things move along at a plodding pace no matter what the situation, leaving you with that same struggling feeling you get when you’re stuck behind a slow driver. You know there should be a faster way to get where you’re going, but there’s simply nothing you can do about it.
Compounding the speed problem is the frustration that comes with failure. It can be all too easy to misjudge an arrow placement and come careening back down to the ground floor. When this happens you’ll be placed back at the beginning of an all too slow process, and in the back of your head you can’t shake the feeling that another mistake is probably going to land you back at square one yet again.
Making mistakes that bring you back to the ground wouldn’t feel nearly as frustrating if the game simply moved at a quicker pace. Offering multiple speed options or simply doubling the speed of the game would have done Roll Out a world of good. Instead the whole process just feels too sluggish to ever really qualify as fun.
Looking past the speed issues, Roll Out offers a fairly neat puzzle platforming mechanic that is both challenging and original. In a certain light, one might even call the touchscreen-centric gameplay genius and a perfect fit for the iPhone gamer. The problem, of course, is that you just can’t look past that speed. If you don’t mind an experience that moves like you’re stuck knee-deep in molasses, Roll Out will probably be money well-spent. If like me, however, you want things to move along at a comfortable pace, the fun that one can have with Roll Out is easily shadowed by the frustration. Unless they address the slowness in a future update, you’ll need the patience of a saint to stick with this one.