“Platforming without platforms,” is how Martial Hesse-Dréville, managing director, describes Rotastic, an upcoming title produced by his Dancing Dots Studio and Focus Home Interactive.
Rotastic is a game about spinning. Lots of spinning. Its whimsical medieval characters whirl from pegs like living (and, in one case, undead) yo-yos, vaulting to and fro to pluck gems from the air or avoid all manner of deadly traps. It’s a good thing they have such convenient grappling hooks and aren’t prone to dizziness, because they are apparently incapable of walking.
Movement is accomplished by vaulting between pegs using momentum and timing, attempting to accomplish given tasks within a time limit without running afoul of gravity’s cruel grasp. The game features a sizable single-player campaign (68 maps, approximately eight to ten hours of playtime). Map objectives vary greatly, from simply collecting gems and doing tricks for points to avoiding deadly traps and environmental hazards or battles against rival characters. Hazards also include distorted gravity and hostile creatures zipping across the field.
The game has a strong multiplayer component – the multiplayer features came first, and the single-player followed. Players can play local matches on one of 14 multiplayer maps, with both deathmatch and gem/score contest modes, deathmatch catering to patience and skill and collection catering to risky maneuvers. Since players sharing the same peg will cut each others’ ropes, it rewards aggressive and precise play. Leaderboards and score comparisons are available online.
After two and a half years of development and polish time, the title will be released for 800 points on XBox Live this September 21st. Playstation 3 owners can expect it for $10 around in January, and PC owners “a bit later.”
I’ll be honest – Rotastic was a pleasant surprise.
The game’s core mechanics are quite simple; you use all of three buttons. (A to release or latch on, and the shoulder buttons to reverse your spin.) This lets the developers play all sorts of games with individual maps’ gimmicks. Even though the mechanics of maps are sometimes recycled, they’re interspersed and varied enough with environmental hazards, warped gravity, switches, or other suck affairs that the action stays fresh.
Single-player has a surprising amount of meat to it, and it looks like a fun way to spend a few hours.There are a lot of homages and references to older games – one level is just a montage of early gaming hits, and other maps include Breakout-styled challenges. The game takes patience and a steady eye to master, but watching an expert is remarkably impressive.
Multiplayer is even more promising. Hesse-Dréville listed Super Smash Brothers as an influence, and it shows. Slashing each others’ ropes as you vie for gems is a lot of fun, and matches quickly become a chaotic affair. It almost resembles a pinball machine watching the characters bounce off each other, twist and pirouette.
All in all, Rotastic looks like a good casual way to spend a while hanging out with some friends. I’d keep an eye on this one.