This is one rampage with a very small roar.

I’ve always been a huge fan of the old Rampage series, so I was really excited when Roar Rampage was announced for iOS devices last month. This game seemed to capture the destructive spirit of the old Midway arcade classic, while adding a fresh new sidescrolling spin to the mix. Now that I’ve had a chance to level tall buildings with a single right-hook, does Roar Rampage pack a roar to match its promising bite?

The first thing you’ll notice about Roar Rampage is the game’s questionable controls. You basically play as your dinosaur’s visible arm, which directly responds to how you drag your finger on the screen. It’s a weird choice, and one that sounds great on paper, but is just plain frustrating in action. You can also try to just tap on the area that you want to destroy, but that’s decidedly less reliable, as the arm tends to take on a life of its own in moments like these.

Despite its intentional retro feel, the graphics in Roar Rampage still leave much to be desired, with thin outlines and static backdrops that look like they could have been done on Microsoft Paint. The game features three locations for you to wildly stomp through, including a city, a jungle, and a nuclear area. There’s also an endless “World Tour” mode, which combines the three locales after a trek across the sea. The different environments do a pretty good job at making themselves look distinct and introducing new kinds of enemies for you to smash, but once you get past 10 or 12 stages in the same city or jungle backdrops, everything starts to feel pretty familiar.

As you go about your rampage, you’ll find floating B-O-N-U-S letters that let you access a special mini-game if you manage to collect them all. The bonus stage resembles a horizontal Breakout mini-game, where you’ll have to smack a silver ball back and forth across the screen with your boxing glove, and eliminate rows of randomly generated blocks. At its best, the mini-game is interesting, but it’s also extremely slow-paced, and greatly interrupts the flow of gameplay for the rest of the game. I actually found myself avoiding collecting the B-O-N-U-S letters after a while so I wouldn’t have to play these extra stages, or intentionally losing them on purpose whenever I mistakenly did.

Leveling buildings will also net you green gems, the game’s form of currency, which you can then use to shop in the store. Unfortunately, there’s no real incentive to purchase any of the items that the store has to offer. You can buy different characters like the Sand Dino or the Sea Dino (which are essentially the same exact character, only painted a different color), and dress them up in accessories like monocles and cowboy hats. Even the more practical items and power-ups like Medikits and Ice Breath don’t really make all that much of a difference, as you’ll rarely ever fail a level from losing all of your health.

Roar Rampage

Roar Rampage is not exactly a challenging game, and there’s never any indication of what you need to do in order to earn a perfect 3-bomb rating in any given stage. It’s not tough to do though. I managed to 3-bomb most of the levels just by mindlessly dragging my finger up and down the screen in random patterns. All in all, you can finish every level the game has to offer in under an hour or so, and get a perfect ranking on most of them without even trying. Still, there’s no denying how much fun it can be to watch the Statue of Liberty break into pieces, or swing a monorail trail to swat a fighter jet out of the sky; and I do have to admit that all the animations are fairly solid throughout.

The only real, redeeming quality of Roar Rampage comes from the innovative boss fights, which combine some nice environmental puzzles with actual strategic clobbering. That’s right, you can’t just blindly swing your arm any which way you choose in these ones, and the second phase of that final boss had me stumped for a long time on how to defeat him! Sadly, there are only three boss fights to be found in the game, and their absence is felt immediately every time you go back to that mindless swinging and smashing of the regular stages.

Roar Rampage

At the end of the day, I wanted to like Roar Rampage; I really did. I mean, everything about the game just screamed awesomeness to me. But the problem comes from when you actually get to play it, and have to fumble with the spastic controls, and question the incentive for doing pretty much anything the game has to offer. Roar Rampage just does too little, and what it does accomplish just comes across as dull, and makes for a relatively plain path of total destruction.