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Rotastic (Xbox 360) artwork

Rotastic (Xbox 360) review


"It's not until you reach the 40s where Rotastic starts presenting some truly tough and frustrating levels. Scenarios within each level change the structure of the map as jewels are collected, blocks broken, and switches pressed. A typical example starts a level off very open and simple, only to turn into a nightmare as walls are moved in, cannons placed in the most irritable locations, and saws, rotating saws, are positioned right beside rows of jewels."



At first glance, Rotastic looks like a really easy and basic title, and for some, maybe even too much for a Live Arcade game going for 800 MS points. The main mechanic of Rotastic is swinging around on poles (hence the game's title) in arenas with a bottomless pit, and you have next to no control over your character; the only abilities you can perform are latching onto ropes, unlatching, and changing rotation direction when swinging. It might sound a bit difficult, but it's pretty simple locking on and grabbing poles, as your rope automatically clings to the nearest, and if you're still unsure, a triangle indicator appears on the closest one for reassurance. This means the only real thing you need to concentrate on is gaining enough momentum on a pole and letting go at the right time to fly towards your destination.

So what's the goal of Rotastic? You collect jewels, at least that's what you'll be doing for most of the game's 60+ stages. I bet you're picturing it already: swinging from pole to pole, gathering jewels through 30-some stages in one sitting. Sounds fun. To be fair, the dev team adds trinkets of obstacles in your path as you make progress during the first half. Cannons firing timed shots keep you distracted, walls block off sections, forcing tight squeezes through entrances, chubby birds wander around the screen, triggering jewels when hit, and you have to turn on switches to open pathways. But as I said, these are only in small dosages, meaning you'll still get by easily with some mild challenge.

It's not until you reach the 40s where Rotastic starts presenting some truly tough and frustrating levels. Scenarios within each level change the structure of the map as jewels are collected, blocks broken, and switches pressed. A typical example starts a level off very open and simple, only to turn into a nightmare as walls are moved in, cannons placed in the most irritable locations, and saws, rotating saws, are positioned right beside rows of jewels. Switches also become complicated to the point where you'll need to activate four or five timed ones in a maze filled with tight areas and saws. It's the type of maddening design you'd see in games like Super Meat Boy, and yes, you'll die and stress out just as much.

A shame there's not enough of these levels, or at least an adequate build up to them to offer an overall entertaining product; that first glance is right, the game as a whole is too easy. It feels like the developers spent way too long pampering players with a hefty chunk of levels, and it screws everyone in the end. Yeah, Rotastic eventually becomes hard, but it happens almost too late, and here's the kicker: it doesn't stay hard throughout. There's an odd consistency where you'll get one tough level, which is sometimes followed by two mellowed areas. Whether or not the team did this as a means to catch a breath, it's not welcomed after all the easy levels early in.

Now, okay, there's challenge in the form of the usual bronze-silver-gold-superduper ratings scale, based on how fast a stage is completed, but Rotastic shouldn't have to rely on an optional challenge to save the tameness of the main goal... the actual game itself has to be solid. There's also a missed opportunity in featuring co-op gameplay, as Rotastic could have been goofy fun with maps tailored for two or three players. There's a multiplayer segment, however, but it's only a simple battle mode, consisting of destroying your opponent's ropes in hopes they fall to their doom while collecting a certain number of jewels. I guess that's alright considering the type of game this is, but I wish it had an online component, as the mode is only available offline.

Rotastic isn't really a bad title, but a too-bad title: a game that easily could have been better than it turned out with a little bit of additional effort.

Rating: 6/10

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (January 23, 2012)

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