Games starring cute ball-like creatures have always seemed to go down Marks-And-Sparks-Chicken-Baguette-like with Speccy owners (ie. pretty well), not to mention reviewers who've got book loads of double entendres out of them. No doubt conscious of this. Rainbow Arts has finally caught up with the decrepit ball game bandwagon, kicked the band off and jumped back on with Rock 'N' Roll, a very ballsy game indeed.
The ball in question is nameless and looks like an old fashioned leather footie. Still, it rolls with beautiful panache and elegance under your control, through 32 large, viewed-from-above maze-like levels in order to find the magic chalice, rescue the ball princess and free fellow spherical compatriots from slavery. Or something like that!
Needless to say each of these levels is absolutely heaving with no end of nasty things, all out to puncture your ball's bladder once and for all! There are one-way arrows, crumbling bits of floor, acid pools, some attractive magnets, ice and bottomless voids which you'd do well to, erm, avoid.
Bladder deflation is prevented with the help of those incredibly handy objects that are always strewn all over the floor in computer games. For instance, there are parachutes to save your leather when you fall off a precipice, spikes that help you on ice and a repair kit so you can get over interrupted paths, to name but most of them. These have to be bought for varying amounts of greenbacks, supplies of which are also dotted across the landscape, or in emergencies traded for precious energy.
Course, you can't just roll your way around each level without so much of a by-your-leave. In fact even a by-your-leave wouldn't let you roll around unhindered through the four different types of door that block your progress. Collecting the right key would however, and it's this to-ing and fro-ing trying to find keys and taking existence endangering risks that makes up most of the gameplay.
Graphics are never as important in these type of games as in most others, but even so the visuals in Rock N' Roll are a bit dodgy and, worse still, a disgusting yellowy colour throughout. Presentation's pretty tatty too and when compared to big budget arcade licences this looks like a pretty unprofessional product altogether. The animation of the ball's nicely done though, with a realistic feeling of momentum and the soundtrack's pretty groovy into the bargain which might just make up for it.
All in all, there seems to be just enough action to keep the variety of puzzle elements together, but if pressed I'd file this in my officially endorsed Shakin' Stevens Suspension Filing CabinetTM under P for Puzzle rather than A for Arcade, which certainly makes a challenge. Then again, after experiencing the annoying habit the game has of either sending you right back to the start of the game or reinflating you in a position that's impossible to escape from maybe there's a more suitable word in the F section. Like Frustrating.
If frustrating is how you like them though this will give great value for money with 32 huge levels. Tight time limits on later stages and the promise of secret passageways and special bonuses help to keep you chained to your Speccy. Unfortunately there's no Save Game option, so solving the whole darn thing is going to take a veritable marathon playing session. But, heck, you're YS readers, you're up to it!
Persevere with the unglossy look and there's lots here to do and see, even though it is in yellow.