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Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Dancing Dots
Genre: Casual/Puzzle
Players: Single Player - One, Multiplayer - 1-4
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Launch Date: 21st September 2011

Rotastic is an Xbox Live Arcade Game which could most easily be described as a puzzle game, not only this though but it also appears to have the look of your traditional PopCap game. The game itself adds a whole new twist to an area of gaming that only originated not so long ago in itself, but overall does this make Rotastic a fun little title that you should spend your hard earned 800 Microsoft Points on? Read on to find out in our definitive review.

Game play = 6/10

When trying to describe the gameplay element of Rotastic, it becomes hard to do. It's not hard in the sense that the game was bad, its hard in the sense that the game is built upon one very easy gameplay mechanic and from that you are sent on various missions where you need to use said game mechanic to complete the levels.

The gameplay is pretty much you play as a knight who must use his trusty rope to latch onto hooks in levels, and swing around them trying to pick up all of the diamonds on the stage in the fastest time possible whilst earning as little deaths as possible. All of this in turn will award you a set amount of points and those points will then convert themselves into medals, with this game deciding to call them helmets instead.

The various grades that you can earn are simply bronze, silver, gold and platinum, and as you can imagine the further you progress into the actual game itself the harder it becomes to start earning the higher grades. You will most likely find yourself earning bronze on the levels until you learn the little tricks or patterns that each level has, so you can use that to your advantage before you start to get the higher grades.




This may look easy, but it's far from it


Its not just all about swinging from hook to hook collecting diamonds though oh no, the game itself features many different scenarios that you must complete before being allowed to exit out of that particular level and these are:

Gem Collecting Stages:
These are the types of scenario where you must try to collect all the diamonds as fast as possible without losing your lifes to be able to get out of the level and progress onto the next one.

Brick Breaker Stages:
Imagine playing Arkanoid, then imagine playing it in the Rotastic style of play where your having to swing around In circles and aim where you want your character to fly off to, that is exactly what you have to do in this scenario and you have to destroy all of the blocks In a set period of time before the exit will open.

Some of the later stages in this mode also allow you the ability to pick up gems that are left behind after destroying the gem blocks, these can be picked up to add extra points to your overall score for the level.

Survival Stages:
The whole point of these levels is as the title suggests, you have to survive for a set period of time without losing all five of your lives.

Obstacles will normally fly at you from different areas of the screen and its your job to avoid them by using your trusty Rotastic skills and you can even earn yourself some gems along the way to add to that all precious score.

Once you have survived the time you need to, the exit to the end of the level will open up, but if you really want to you're allowed to stay and carry on picking up gems to get your score up before leaving.

Boss Stages:
These are stages where your pitted up against between one to three enemies and the requirements for beating the boss battles range from collecting a certain amount of gems in a time limit whilst they are also trying to take them away from you or kill you.

Or you need to kill a set number of bosses and respawns before you can exit the level.

These four game types are what help Rotastic become fun, and help it from becoming redundant and stale. There is room for added improvement though and extra game types but what are provided is actually good enough, maybe more will be added with future DLC for the game.

The multiplayer for this game is a bit of a let down though, the game currently features no online multiplayer and everything needs to be played in local co-op, whilst this is a major downfall for what a nice little package this game is, the multiplayer that the games does offer does help prolong the life of the game a little bit more.

If you have no friends or extra controllers then you can choose to set yourself against the A.I in a one on one or up to three extra computer players. What you can then do afterwards is choose a select number of levels from the main game and decide to play them against your friends or the computer.

The match types range from easy all the way to hard and you can find yourself playing from two different game types that the game offers such as deathmatch and collecting gems against other players.

All around though this game, even though it may be a little bit simplistic, does its job really well at offering a nicely cut package for players to play around with, whilst it may not have lots of different gameplay options what it does have though works really well.




Kill chickens - collect gems, easy right?


Graphics = 8/10

Rotastic opts to use a user friendly graphics scheme, it offers not only a childish cartoony artwork, but it also adds gruesome dismemberment for the adult gamers out there willing to give this game a whirl.

From the worlds that you play in to the characters and even the obstacles you have to avoid, everything is rendered in a cartoony scheme which is not only bold but it is brightly coloured also, this makes the game look really nice and helps it stand out from the crowd.

Each world that the game offers you is also unique to the world that you just played in, each area features a different colour scheme for example the Medieval City area to the Castle, everything has a different persona which really sets the game off well.

Every area in Rotastic is heavily inspired by the Medieval area, and its not just the areas themselves either, the characters also have been modelled after warriors and animals alike. One of the characters which included Death himself also makes an appearance within the game, I'm not sure why he was there but it was nice to see him modelled in Rotastic's own cartoony artwork.

The way the game is presented in terms of how the menus are set out, is also another one of Rotastic's strong points. The games menus are all made to appear as if they are being represented on Medieval parchment, add this to the other graphical elements that this game offers, and its easy to see how well organised this game is when it comes to a graphical standpoint.




As you can see, the stages really do get more complexed!


Sound = 7/10

The sound within Rotastic is one the best features about the game. As soon as you load up the game you hear the games announcer doing some silly voice over for each of the publisher and developer screens saying how much their games rock, then when it actually gets to the title screen your met with the voice of Super Rotastic.

From there on the music in the game is very medieval sounding which plays in part to the rest of the game and really helps settle te package as a whole. The music itself is also pretty upbeat which helps to keep players in the mood whilst playing it, but its also quite a friendly jive.

Whilst playing the game though there are different music types for each area, and not only that when you are about to enter each new puzzle, depending on what type of game mode it is, the announcer will say something comedic about it.

The only downfall though is the announcer really doesn't have a whole lot to say, I believe that more lines could have been given to him about each of the other game types, as hearing the same saying over and over again will quickly grate on anybody's nerves.


One of the more difficult challenges, before the spikes and cannon activate


Difficulty = 8/10

When you first start to play Rotastic the game will seem rather difficult, this is due to how the developers have added that slight change to the classic formula that other casual and puzzle platformers have used over the past year or so.

That classic twist is the ability to allow the player to define how long they would like their piece of rope to be for letting there character swing back and forth and around In circles, whilst this may seem like a nice little touch, it adds that extra level of difficulty to the game seeing as you now need to take notice of how long that piece of rope is to make sure you will be able to swing from one piece of the level to the next, or even not swing your character into one of the many hazardous sections of some levels.

After you spend an hour in the game though and slowly progress through the games seven worlds you will eventually start to pick up the gameplay quite easily, thus making your return to earlier levels a lot easier then the first time you played them.

This game also helps improve on your reactions though seeing as on some of the later levels you will need some quick fire reactions to be able to beat them. Some levels contain added elements as the level progress which can make them really tough on casual players.

Overall I think that if this game was to have included maybe ten different worlds with one hundred levels instead of what the game has now, then the game probably wouldn't of got has hard as it did as early on as it did, you will find yourself flying through the first few worlds but as I mentioned before by the end of area four, you will want to pull your own hair out.





This really is as insane as it looks


Achievements = 6/10

The achievements in Rotastic can easily be described as a mixed bag, you have your easier achievements but also you have your pretty tough and demanding sort to boot.

Let's start off by talking about the single player achievements which can easily be described as quite a challenge, whilst progressing to world five and seven achievements may take some trial and error on certain levels to achieve higher helmets in order to progress, the thought of knowing you need to eventually gold helmet all of the levels can become a thought in the back of your mind that makes you want to initially just give up trying.

Whilst this may not be a bad thing it defiantly is a turn off seeing as how difficult the game can be when you progress to world four and onwards after that, you will be spending a lot of time trying to attain a gold helmet on each level.

The achievement is entirely possible though as the further you progress into the game the better you will become at it and the easier the levels will become when you go back to them at a later time.

Every other achievement that is single player related though is pretty easy or will take some time but its nothing as brutal as the one I just mentioned.

The multiplayer achievements may seem hard at first also seeing as the multiplayer is local only, meaning no online boosting to get these done easier, you can play the multiplayer on your own against four bots, but that may seem tricky for some people, but if you have a spare controller handy or three then these will really help make those achievements doable.




Multiplayer in all it's glory


Summery

Rotastic does what it intends to do, it both fulfils the needs of the casual gamer whilst also appealing to the hardcore audience who want a challenge when it comes to their puzzle games. Whilst the game could of featured more content, what is offered is enough to please any type of gamer, and will no doubt keep them busy for hours whilst restarting many missions to either complete them or to higher their rank.

It will be nice to see where Dancing Dots take this IP in the future now and whether or not they will offer up some kind of DLC to keep players on their toes for even longer, a downloadable content is available within the game so could this mean DLC will be incoming?

If you're a fan of games by either PopCap or Zynga then this really is a must purchase, but to the gamers who hardly play games of this nature then id have to suggest saving your Microsoft Points for something else.

Overall: 7.0/10 Great
 

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