ROTii in Review – Vacuuming Doesn’t Always Suck
Back when I was an avid console gamer I used to love 2D platform games. Castlevania, Mega-Man, Super Mario Bros.: there was just something about the format that really resonated with me. When touch screen, mobile gaming took over my electronic life I drifted towards scrolling shooters, because generally speaking the controls seemed to handle themselves better than most platforms when you didn’t have the aid of a tactile controller. Still, whenever a platformer looks like it has promise I’m more than willing to give it a try and ROTii is just such a game. ROTii certainly has many of the qualities that remind me why I like the genre so much, but there are also a few issues that keep it from rising to the top.
The concept is actually pretty cute. You control what is basically a Roomba on steroids, and you just have to go from room to room cleaning up all the bugs. At the end of each level is a picture, and when you get that picture pest free you’ve conquered the level. Control is pretty simple – there are buttons to move left and right, as well as buttons for jumping and using your vacuum. This has always been one of the most frustrating parts of the touch screen platformer, and few get it right. I appreciate having actual buttons for the jump and vacuum, and the left and right arrows are fine though they suffer from the usual problem that if you aren’t paying attention your fingers might drift a bit and you’ll end up simply tapping a non-responsive screen instead of an actual button. The bigger problem, however, is that it often seems like the arrow / jump combination often doesn’t respond well, leading to many premature deaths. When near perfect timing is involved, the controls need to be as tight as possible, and they just aren’t quite there.
From what I’ve seen so far the levels are well designed. The ability to manipulate the environment to an extent provides for some interesting puzzles, and there’s plenty to explore on each level. Of course that can occasionally be a detriment as it’s not always obvious where to go at a given juncture, but then exploring has always been part of the fun of a platform game. Throughout the level you’ll run across platforms that both save your position within a level as well as recharge your battery (you are a mechanical device, after all). Unfortunately the save is only for the course of the current run, so if you close the game out and come back you’ll have to restart the level you were currently playing. I’ve never been a big fan of this mentality, but I find it especially frustrating in mobile games, where the developer should expect that you might be playing it in short bursts and not always have time to complete a level. Another way to circumvent this is to take a cue from titles like the Game Boy Advance versions of Castlevania where the levels were rather small but there were many of them. Even if you don’t want to have 100 levels, break individual levels up into sub-sections that can be completed independently. That aside, I did enjoy the first three levels, and I like how you get a good perspective of the size of ROTii based on the background (at one point he’s dwarfed by a plate of spaghetti).
Unfortunately, the game starts to fall apart after level 3. The fourth level is a boss fight, which I’m all for. The problem is it was actually quite boring, and was just a matter of dodging the bad guy until it ran into enough ice shards that fell from the ceiling. Not very original, and it doesn’t provide much of a sense of accomplishment. Level 5 is where I ultimately stopped playing the game, though. Almost from the beginning of the level it felt sluggish. If I played it too long, however, I would have problems quitting the game. The first time it happened I thought I was going to have to completely reset my device. And lest you think I just needed to do that anyway, I tried playing the level immediately after doing a restart and had the same issue. The net result is that in its current state there’s no way I’m going to get past that level, and that’s a serious issue as far as I’m concerned.
Now should you have the fortitude to persevere, or at least have a device where this slowdown isn’t an issue, there are 25 achievements to earn. The nice thing is that they aren’t your typical “way to pass that level” achievements either. The descriptions don’t make it completely clear how you earn each one, but that again adds to the fun of exploration. Too bad the game doesn’t seem to want to let me continue my journey.
The graphics are really well done, though some might say not by today’s standards. They have a very traditional look to them, as though a somewhat experienced older kid drew them. Honestly the visuals seemed a bit unprofessional to me, but that soon became part of their charm. There’s plenty of detail in both the foreground and background, and just the right amount of animation, even in places that a lot of platform games would cut corners on. I also appreciate that they’ve gone through quite a bit of trouble to help you appreciate the scale of everything (you are apparently a fairly small robot). The sound effects are decent enough, and the soundtrack is interesting and varies nicely from level to level.
At the end of the day ROTii has been a mixed blessing for me. I like the game, and I really want to give it high marks. If it were just for the slightly wonky controls I’d feel fairly comfortable doing that. Unfortunately, between the extremely lackluster first boss fight and the fact that I can’t even play level 5 on my machine, I’m tempted to swing the other way. What lands me in the middle is that despite all the technical issues, the game has some of the best puzzles I’ve seen on a mobile platform in a while. I just hope they clean up the mechanics and work out whatever’s going on with the performance.
|Reviewed Ver:||2.0.25||Min OS Req:||Android OS 2.3|