The App Store is only a few months old and yet there are already a plethora of maze based puzzle games available for gamers to choose from. Amongst them are the popular (and rather good) Dizzy Bee and Labyrinth, the slightly less impressive Spinner and the ridiculously impossible Balloonacy. Even at this early stage in iPhone gaming any new title joining this crowded genre is going to have to be rather special to make an impact. Tag Games certainly hope that Rock’n’Roll fits the bill but will this maze game leave players spinning in delight or wishing they’d stayed away?
Rock’n’Roll is presented in a clean cartoon style and follows the story of two rather endearing but strange characters called Rock and Roll. Rock seems to be some kind of square concrete block and Roll a round purple blob. How they ended up living on the same desert Island together only the developer knows… the back story is quite simply mad! Upon starting the quest mode the player is treated to a rather splendid, and laugh-out-loud funny, comic book sequence, explaining how Rock has been kidnapped by an evil sky spirit for turning on his air conditioning. In an effort to save his friend from captivity Roll must enter the mazes of Flint Island and collect all of the evil sky spirits musical notes and here the main quest mode begins.
After such a bizarre start to proceedings it no surprise to find that game-play is pretty crazy too. Rock’n’Roll behaves a little like Spinner in that you don’t control the main character but rather the maze, which you rotate around Roll allowing him to drop through using gravity. The game runs at a rapid frame rate and the maze spins around with impressive fluidity as the player rotates the iPhone left and right using the accelerometer to control roll’s movement. The speed often gets boosted even further with a variety of power-ups and pinball bumper objects but if you suffer from motion sickness you could very quickly be reaching for the sick bag!
The quest mode involves you negotiating ever larger mazes in search of the evil sky spirits musical notes, only once you have collected all the notes will you be allowed to proceed to the next maze. Once you have successfully completed the first environment “Coral Reef” the mazes do start to get very big indeed and the game’s difficulty starts to increase dramatically. The player is aided by the inclusion of a map screen but this can be difficult to read and finding the last note in a maze can become a frustrating affair. At this point the clock mode provides a welcome break from the lengthy quest campaign. Here the player races against the clock in a series of completely new mazes to achieve the best time. Clock mode not only provides a lighter challenge in terms of initial difficulty but the race mechanic delivers added value with the player able to return time after time to try to beat their best time.
The audio effects in Rock’n’Roll work well and help maintain the sense of fun and excitement during game-play, however the accompanying music sounds a little rough around the edges and becomes annoying during extensive play. The classic rock’n’roll styles used aren’t going to be to everyone’s taste and it would be great to see the developer offering the option to play your own music in the background for future updates. Although the speed and 360 degree rotation is thrilling it certainly isn’t going to be everyone’s idea of a good time. For iPhone gamers used to gentle maze based balloon rides Rock’n’Roll is like a double espresso and red bull at 5am in the morning! One great inclusion is the option to select touch control rather than the default motion control. When active the maze is rotated by dragging your finger around the screen and this not only allows you to play the game in public without looking like an idiot, it also affords a much greater degree of accuracy. Very useful if you find the later quest mazes prove to be just too difficult.
There is no doubt that for $3.99 Rock’n’Roll provides a huge amount of game-play bang for your buck. In addition to the 15 quest mazes there are a further 15 in the clock mode. It took me over 2 hours to complete the quest mode alone and I found I was still returning to play the clock levels and beat my times long after completing the game.
Rock’n’Roll is a game that makes an initial impact with its unique game-play and then grows on you through its wacky, yet loveable sense of humor and challenging maze design. There are a large number of maze based games available for iPhone but none are anything like this. What the game lacks in polished animation and audio finesse it makes up for in original game-play, speed, outright fun and the sheer size of its offering. If you can stomach the nausea inducing speed you’ll find a rewarding and enjoyable experience like no other. Rock on!
- Title: Rock’n’Roll
- Publisher: TAG Games
- Developer: TAG Games
- Price: $3.99