Most video games have a set beginning and an end. Sure, you have puzzle games, arcade games, and games like Borderlands that can keep going even after the final boss is dead, but when it comes to older games and those styled after retro games, the goal is to get from start to finish. Ever wonder what would happen if instead you had to get from finish to start? Honestly, neither have I, but that’s pretty much what we’re getting into with Roving Rogue.
You play as Kurt the Righteous and you just defeated the final boss. Well, that was a quick game. Actually the premise is pretty unique; make your way back to the start. In a day where stories and plots in video games all seem to blend together, this is a unique concept. Sadly it doesn’t quite live up to the concept as well as it could have, but it’s still a nice concept. The game consists of six chapters with several stages in each where you have to progress through part of the castle to reach a door at the end. The stages will shift between horizontal and vertical from time to time and the further in—or rather out—you get, the more obstacles thrown at you.
As you progress through each stage you can’t linger too long, as the area is kind of falling apart in some way. For vertical stages you have lava rising up from the bottom of the screen, and in horizontal stages you have the area behind you starting to crumble. This, I felt, was not only an interesting way to add to the challenge, but was needed. The main mechanic for the game is Kurt’s ability to teleport by holding down the Y button and aiming with the D-Pad or left stick. You can also teleport through certain walls which are gold colored. This sounds simple enough but can take awhile to fully get the hang of for a couple of reasons.
First, after a couple of seconds of holding the Y button, you’ll just teleport to the direction you’re aiming, even if you don’t let go of Y. Next, you have to make sure to let go of Y before letting go of the D-Pad. I’ve had several situations where I’ve let go of the D-Pad too soon and ended up changing directions on accident and plunging myself into the lava below. Finally, the teleportation keeps your momentum from the moment you pressed Y. In other words, if you were falling when you hit Y, you’ll drop like a rock after you teleport, so you have to plan your teleports carefully.
In each stage you’ll find three statues called amnestatuettes. Collecting all of them in the game will fulfill a secret secondary mission, but they also have another purpose. On the map screen you can access a diary of sorts that has a bunch of jumbled text, but for every stage that you collect all three statues, one of the paragraphs will translate to English and reveal more of the story. It’s a nice little touch that invests you a bit more into the game. Obviously this means that you can go back to previously completed stages, but that means slowly trekking your way across the map, as I couldn’t find any way to instantly go from one stage to another via the touch screen.
Again this all adds up to a pretty interesting concept. However, the execution isn’t quite there. To begin with—and this is purely nitpicking with this point—you’d think that if you’re going back out of the castle you just fought through, it would be easier than on the way in. The world map even shows you going from Chapter 6, then 5, and so on. However, that would make for a weird game if the hardest part was at the very start, so again this is just minor nitpicking.
I already talked about the teleportation controls and minor issues that could happen, but another one deals with the vertical moving stages. There are times in which you might have to drop back down a bit to grab a statue that’s out of the way. However, when you drop down the screen, the screen doesn’t scroll fast enough to catch up. You end up going offscreen for a moment. I’ve not had many times where this caused major issues, but I can’t see how this was something that wasn’t looked into.
I think the biggest issue with the game is that after awhile it just feels like you’re doing the same things over and over again with little being added to the challenge. There are enemies to either avoid or defeat by running into them from behind or jumping on them, and each chapter tends to add a new enemy to the mix, but overall the enemies aren’t that difficult to contend with. The most dangerous are spellcasters who hurl fireballs at you, as dealing with multiples can easily get overwhelming. But since there are unlimited lives, the stages really aren’t that hard, just tedious at times.
There are also a few times in which the stages become less about skill and tedium, and more about trial and error. A couple stages have different paths to teleport through, only to find that the path you chose was a dead end and it’s too late to turn back because the stage is crumbling behind you. A couple of later stages have a plethora of teleporters, but unless you know which teleporters send you where, it’s all trial and error to make your way through; especially if you’re trying to avoid the teleporters entirely.
In the end, Roving Rogue is an interesting game and can be fun at times. But it just felt like there should have been more. I did enjoy it and it did get quite challenging at times, but the main challenge was keeping ahead of the lava or crumbling rubble of the tower. Later chapters do introduce new enemies, but they’re easily avoided for the most part and really don’t add much. Maybe if more challenging obstacles were introduced, or possibly limited numbers of lives before having to start a stage from the beginning, it would have been less tedious and posed more of a challenge. As it stands, if you can find this one on sale I’d say give it a shot, but you’re not missing much if you skip out on it.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.