Rollers of the Realm Review


Games that are a novel mash-up of genres tend to be either surprising successes (how come no one ever thought of doing that before?) or abject failures (what were they thinking?). Rollers of the Realm, which combines the pinball and RPG genres, falls more into the latter category than the former. The problem is that for a mixed genre game to succeed it must take the best elements from each individual genre and combine them in a novel way that increases the overall fun to level that's equal to or greater than the sum of its parts, which is something that Rollers of the Realm fails to do. A pedestrian pinball game married to a mundane RPG is not an equation that sums up to much fun.

The action in Rollers of the Realm is played out on pinball tables, although using that nomenclature is a little generous. The levels are rather sparse for pinball tables, lacking both in features and pathways and basically providing you with a few pins and bumpers to play with. The physics isn't particularly well-implemented, either. The balls don't feel like they have any weight to them and often look to be following pre-programmed paths rather than obeying the laws of physics. If you're going to make a pinball-focused game, then you better nail the table design and ball physics, and Rollers of the Realm falls short on both.

Rollers of the Realm screenshot 2

The RPG element comes into play in that the characters in your party are the pinballs themselves. Your knight is a large ball that can break barriers and do more damage to the enemies who periodically wander out on the tables than the other characters. Your thief is a smaller ball that can fit through smaller gaps than the knight and can "steal" gold from the people she hits. If a ball drops, that character is defeated and can only be brought back and can only be brought back by spending a large amount of the mana that you earn by hitting certain targets in the field of play. That mana can also be used to activate each character's special ability. In the case of the knight it's a shield that acts as a "shoot again" bonus while the thief can call in her dog, which kicks off multi ball play.

Between levels you can spend the gold that you've earned to buy gear for the characters in your party, but any improvements that the gear provides is entirely hidden from you. There's no visual representation of the new gear on the character portraits that are shown as the story is being told between levels, and any benefits to play are completely hidden under the hood.

Rollers of the Realm screenshot 8

It feels like a bit of stretch to view the game as being part RPG when the RPG elements amount to different sized pinballs, invisible gear upgrades, and the story's generic fantasy setting. That leaves you with the pinball, which is pretty basic stuff, neither particularly exciting nor challenging, and as a pinball fan myself I can't really recommend it to those who like to play the silver ball. There's some potential to an RPG/pinball mash-up, in fact, Zen Pinball has a table that shows that this is a viable mix, but unfortunately Rollers of the Realm is not the game to realize that potential.

Final Rating: 50%. A pinball RPG that does neither very well.

 





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