Amstrad Action1st February 1990
Published in Amstrad Action #53
Rock 'N Roll
Rolling stones may gather no moss, but rolling spheres gather points by the bucket load. Or they do in Rock 'N Roll, a seven-continent maze world full of goodies to keep and collect. Its basic premise couldn't be simpler. The aim is to successfully - i.e. remaining alive while you're doing it! - negotiate seven different mazes, each constructed of various levels. There's no strange or slightly ludicrous plot to excuse this, just the spirit of adventure.
The aim of any prospective Rock 'N Roller is to have fun and find out as much as possible about the weird world in which he/she/it lives. This involves solving puzzles, avoiding pitfalls and learning the sequence in which objects must be collected to be of any use. Graphically and musically it owes a lot to Skweek, being cast in a cartoon light with jolly little tunes nagging away as you play.
That's it, all you have to know in order to go Rollin'. The fun begins in "yellowland" with a locked door staring you in the face (if you had a face, that is!), so the first thing must be find the key. Scooting about reveals a small compound area, with a different colour key to that of the door, the only thing you can find. There is an odd glowing globe in one corner, however. Curiosity gets the better of you and eventually you touch it. Before you can say "beam me up, Scotty" you're whisked away to another area where eventually you find the right coloured key. Touch the teleport again and you're back where you started - but now have have to power to move on.
Using teleport systems isn't the only trick you'll need to learn before you make it to the Rock 'N Roll hall of fame, though - they're the easy bits! Lying around for you to collect are purses of cash that enable you to buy goodies at shop squares. Of course, each shop only sells one item and can only be visited once before it sells out. So careful budgeting and use of the articles is essential. On offer are repair kits, parachutes, armour, spikes and many other treats to keep you amused and amazed for hours on end.
Now these goodies are only on offer every now and again but they do serve as a warning to what's ahead. So when you see a shop, stop and buy something! It's the closest you'll get to hints. Among the traps, some of the more common are decaying floors and patches of ice. Repair kits are necessary to patch up the holes and allow you past (parachutes float you out of danger if you stray over a hole), and ice requires the use of spikes to stop you sliding uncontrollably towards a hole.
One-way arrows, time delay gates, slopes and a myriad more fiendish plans have been hatched to stop you completing the level. Keys are invariably the hardest things to find, often being hidden up long thin corridors with floors that becomes holes the second time you touch them. This makes retrieval a little tough as you roll over them for the second time on your return journey, so speed is essential.
Thus life continues until you get trashed or stuck. You can restart from the same spot, but if you manage to work yourself into an inescapable corner than you have to abandon the whole match and restart form the dimly-remembered start of the level. Arrggghhh!
The many items to collected on your trek through this perilous land are displayed on a neat but small window below the main game screen. Keys are identified with their respective colours (making play tough on green-screeners) and all the bonus goodies are simply scrolled through before use. The main screen itself has multi-directional scrolling to create the illusion of ball movement, while the choice of bright basic colours and less-than-subtle shades helps keep up the game's jolly grimace.
Rock 'N Roll looks very good, sounds pleasant and plays well, but just isn't fun. There's plenty to do, but seemingly little motive to actually do it. The packaging makes a boast of not having to fend off hordes of invading nasties, but without the threat imperative or immediate time limit, on most levels you can dawdle around for as long as you want. Even the decreasing amount of energy isn't enough to rescue the game from increasing dullness. Great work, but the game it's centered on doesn't have the character to carry the code.
Plays like a mouse-controlled game without the mouse. Bright and colourful but not a new theme, and not terribly well implemented.
First Day Target Score
Get past the volcanoes.
Green Screen View
Key colour ishard to decipher.
P. Bright, cheerful and clear.
P. Smooth multi-directional scrolling.
P. Many jolly jingles.
N. A touch irritating.
Grab Factor 74%
P. Instant appeal.
Staying Power 54%
P. Vast maze of many levels.
N. Exceptionally frustrating.
Nice coding, but a weak premise.