Get your flickers ready, folks. This is more than just a re-imagined Pinball experience. Phantom Compass has single handedly managed to create an addictive Pinball RPG mashup in their original title, Rollers of the Realm. Wait.. Pinball? RPG? In the same sentence?
Combining the best of old-school pinball aspects and classic role play elements is just the beginning. Rollers of the Realm pits players in the midst of a medieval, warring world, complete with drunken knights, mystical healers, and a thief with a little bit of attitude. Rich in delicious art and an authentic atmosphere, the world itself is incredibly convincing. What really kicks off the experience, however, is the story that players are thrown into. Credible voice acting and appropriate, symphonic tunes contribute to the reality that, yes, this is an RPG chock full of maps that are brimming with people, objects, and challenges that set the scene for some epic pinball times.
Players start off as the spunky rogue who pickpockets to get through the hard times in The Realm. With a trusty dog by her side, there’s no end to the loot players can acquire should they choose to replay levels. Trouble joins the fun, as it has a way of doing, and our rogue suddenly finds she needs some big-time help. There’s a brute blacksmith in town, and he just dog-napped the only family our little rogue has left. Luckily for players, a knight appears to try and save the day. He is older than most knights and drunker than, well, just about everyone in the Main Square. The story continues with added party members, each playing their own role in the tale. “Hold on, I thought there was Pinball in here somewhere!”
Beyond the cutscenes, each character is depicted as an actual pinball, controlled by the player who catapults them around the screen in order to advance the story. The pinballs themselves are exceptionally imagined – grey and rusty for the knight, bright and glowing for the healer, etc. Phantom Compass hasn’t left anything out, since it wouldn’t be pinball without flippers, kickers, bumpers, and spinners. Players still launch their characters with the plunger, putting the character on the playfield and starting the level, but must also take into account the physics-based puzzle elements Rollers of the Realm possesses. There is nudging involved as well, which allows players to poke the ball to the left or right. Trust that your timing and reflex mechanics will be tested. Just like the good old days!
Characters can be swapped in-game, creating an entire new factor to the puzzle details. If the knight is too big to fit into a certain alleyway, the rogue can get the job done. Keep the big lug around, however, since he’s usually needed to knock down walls or barricades. Character swapping skills come from experience, so replaying levels is a must. Characters have special abilities as well, charged by mana or experience found on the playfield. Players should visit The Port, the in-game store and party details menu, when they can since this offers them a chance to upgrade the tagalongs they’ve teamed up with along the way.
Rollers of the Realm is a vibrantly addicting and combat-focused experience that lends well to longevity and unique experiences. Players are sure to dive into Arena Mode, which features even more challenging boards with Leaderboard support, an aspect any Pinball fan will adore. I played this game on PC with my keyboard, and although it took a few tries at the starting level to get used to the controls, I was nudging and flicking and plunging like a pro in no time.