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Mini-review: Rolando rolls onto the App Store

post #1 of 39
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It's not an exaggeration to say that Rolando ($9.99, App Store) was one of the most hotly anticipated games for the iPhone, and that it could easily be perceived as the iPhone's first "killer app".

The App Store has been starting to see a lot of games proper recently, but most of them are old franchises being ported over, and so Rolando has the unique opportunity of becoming the face of App Store gaming, Apple's Mario, so to speak.

Development on Rolando has steadily snowballed, and after being featured in various magazines, getting picked up by Ngmoco, and acquiring a soundtrack from Mr. Scruff, it's hardly surprising that so much attention has gathered around this title. Initially, the title that was being created solely by developer Simon Oliver, until being picked up by the App Store's gaming darling and iFunded startup Ngmoco.

Many gaming titles for the iPhone feel like miniature games, and that's only fair because up till now the games for devices like MP3 players and phones have been exactly that: minigames. Snake, Sudoku, Solitaire -- the rule of thumb thus far has been that if it isn't a dedicated gaming platform like the Nintendo DS, it's not going to get dedicated game development.

It looks like that's all about to change, because the feeling you get from Rolando is the same one you get from a game that comes in a package with a manual, and one for which you paid some exorbitant price. But it's not. It's $9.99, it's digitally distributed, and it's on your phone or MP3 player.

Rolando is based on a physics platformer, in which you roll about little spherical beings known as Rolandos. As in many games, a dark and mysterious power has invaded the previously serene Rolando central, and it is up to you, the omnipotent 'Finger' to help the Rolandos win their kingdom back.



The method of control is predominantly tilt-based, moving about selected Rolandos from side to side and making them jump with a quick upwards stroke of the finger. This way of controlling seems a little sluggish at first, but it becomes quite natural in the space of a few levels, and second nature once you're into the meat of the game.

Gameplay is shaken up by the different kinds of Rolandos in the game -- some have the ability to stick to walls, some aren't able to stop moving from left to right, and some are big and not directly controllable. All these different Rolandos have individual designs and personalities, as well as dialogue that is both charming and entertaining.

The levels themselves feature a variety of touch based functions, from bridges that you need to draw with your finger, springs that must be pulled down to launch Rolandos, or bombs that you have to manoeuvre into the correct position. These functions combined with the many different Rolandos allow for an endless variation of levels with a finely tuned mix.



Essentially, all you are trying to do is get your Rolandos from point A to point B. At the end of that, a high score is calculated and medals awarded according to jewels collected, Rolandos saved, time spared, that sort of thing. One of the best things about Rolando is that you're not punished for going over time limits or ignoring the jewels, but the challenge is there if you want to take it.

Although it's got replayability, Rolando already offers quite a sizeable chunk of gaming for its asking price, with 36 levels that are neither too challenging nor too simple. For $9.99, this game is setting a precedent in content-for-cash that may send a shiver down the spine of other game publishers working off the iPhone business model.



Essentially, Rolando is a charming experience, from its menu comprised of a small sandbox of the game itself -- expanding slowly as you play -- to the cute, crispy visuals that evoke a fun and funky atmosphere complemented almost perfectly by the soundtrack.

Rolando sets a high bar for premium games on the App Store and for the first time offers some credence to recent claims by Apple that the iPhone can now stand alongside heavyweights such as Nintendo's DS as a true gaming platform.

Sam Gwilym is AppleInsider's iPhone Apps editor and Rolando is just one of dozens of iPhone applications and games he's been covering over on our iPhone Blog (RSS). Publishers looking to contact Sam about future and current iPhone titles can reach him at sam (at) appleinsider (dot) com.
post #2 of 39
Looks fun.


post #3 of 39
This game rules. The first thing worth 9.99 on the whole friggin phone.
post #4 of 39
Hmm, looks like a pretty straight rip of Loco Roco for the PSP...
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post #5 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by lemoose View Post

Hmm, looks like a pretty straight rip of Loco Roco for the PSP...

I haven't played or seen comprehensible game play video of Loco Roco, but the art style does look very similar.
post #6 of 39
Sam could benefit from some classes writing and journalism. His article began with two strikes, the first two words being "It is", and beginning with a contraction.

Fine, this is a blog. Still, those classics like "There is, There are, It is" are signs of weak writing, and the tone, balance and judgement were all off kilter.

Programmers try not to break the UI. AppleInsider has a particular tone that I appreciate.

This "article" by Sam breaks the UI. FWIW, I'm not a fan.
post #7 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shogun View Post

Sam could benefit from some classes writing and journalism. His article began with two strikes, the first two words being "It is", and beginning with a contraction.

Fine, this is a blog. Still, those classics like "There is, There are, It is" are signs of weak writing, and the tone, balance and judgement were all off kilter.

Programmers try not to break the UI. AppleInsider has a particular tone that I appreciate.

This "article" by Sam breaks the UI. FWIW, I'm not a fan.

Get a life!
post #8 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by freethinker View Post

Get a life!

No, he's right. Even amateur journalists need to adhere to proper grammar.

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post #9 of 39
I really don't think it's a killer app. It looks pretty dull. It's like Loco Roco as mentioned but with worse graphics:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=QfGrX0zzVp0

New and possibly enjoyable games always add to the gaming status but this app will hardly be drawing in gamers.

If there's a demo version, I'll try it out. I'm not paying £6 just to see if it's good or not.
post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shogun View Post

Sam could benefit from some classes writing and journalism. His article began with two strikes, the first two words being "It is", and beginning with a contraction.

Fine, this is a blog. Still, those classics like "There is, There are, It is" are signs of weak writing, and the tone, balance and judgement were all off kilter.

Programmers try not to break the UI. AppleInsider has a particular tone that I appreciate.

This "article" by Sam breaks the UI. FWIW, I'm not a fan.

Speaking as someone who routinely makes picky remarks about the quality of writing on blogs (and feels terribly guilty about it), you are taking the picky critique to a whole new level with this comment.

Good use of language is essential, but language also evolves and if all you have is "beginning a sentence with a contraction" and some vague subjective remarks about the "tone," you should keep it to yourself or perhaps wait until a really grievous grammatical mistake is made before you sound off.
In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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post #11 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by freethinker View Post

There are people in Iraq being killed by suicide bombers and US warplanes and starving people in Darfur. Do you really think contractions matter that much?

Loser.

Ugh, how does the fact we have problems in this world have anything to do with proper grammer? I dont think its a big deal, but a little proof reading for an article can make allot of difference. (i know there are errors in this post, but i dont care, this is not an article)
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Being an Apple basher means you never, ever have to acknowledge success.
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post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by freethinker View Post

There are people in Iraq being killed by suicide bombers and US warplanes and starving people in Darfur. Do you really think contractions matter that much?

Loser.

A post such as this may be apropos if this were a political blog.

You resorting to personal attacks like "loser" doesn't help your argument either. It's hard to get behind your point of view if you're being so abrasive.
post #13 of 39
Well, if I can digress from all this Iraq talk for a moment...

I downloaded and installed the game and think it rocks! Really well developed with challenging levels and beautiful graphics.

Bravo!
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-Dan
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post #14 of 39
This is first true iPhone game. I think Apple needs to make an ad with this game to show what a phone can do. I been playing it for hours. Really worth $10.

So happy it came out.
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post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

I really don't think it's a killer app. It looks pretty dull. It's like Loco Roco as mentioned but with worse graphics:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=QfGrX0zzVp0

New and possibly enjoyable games always add to the gaming status but this app will hardly be drawing in gamers.

If there's a demo version, I'll try it out. I'm not paying £6 just to see if it's good or not.

It always surprises me how many people miss the concept of 'sweet spot'. The point isn't to capture the heart of elite gamers. Its to hit the 80% mark. Really good quality (better than most others) that will capture the big 'new user' market.

iPhone doesn't have the 'best' of anything except for usability, which in itself makes the quality of the now usable features WAY better than unusable 'best of breed'.

My Flip Mino is technically 'crap' compared to many other cameras, but the fact is that I actually use it... a LOT, which makes it quantum leaps better than a HD camcorder that sits in the drawer.

This game will kill because it hits the mark between challenging and steep learning curve.
post #16 of 39
Screw Maps, Safari, Mail, SMS and the Camera -- Rolando is finally the thing to make my iPhone a life-enhancing force!

Really?!? Let's use "killer app" a bit more selectively, please.
post #17 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by iVlad View Post

This is first true iPhone game. I think Apple needs to make an ad with this game to show what a phone can do. I been playing it for hours. Really worth $10.

So happy it came out.


Def. worth the 10, its great

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post #18 of 39
I wonder how much Ngmoco paid for this ad... I mean "news story". Why is it that lately it seems that every other AppleInsider RSS feed I receive reads like an advertisement. I mean, in the past 48 hours there were two stories about time running out on the big sales the major online retailers are having on the Apple product line.

Please. This is newsworthy?

Please.
post #19 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by lemoose View Post

Hmm, looks like a pretty straight rip of Loco Roco for the PSP...

Looks a bit like Dizee Bee and Bii Ball.
post #20 of 39
Well, it looks like I'll be using all the blood money Ngmoco paid me to buy myself some writing lessons!
post #21 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwilym View Post

Well, it looks like I'll be using all the blood money Ngmoco paid me to buy myself some writing lessons!

Guys,

Sam is from Europe, so his dialect and writing style may be a bit different from what everyone is used to on AppleInsider. Give him a chance, please. And why is it that we're accused of running an advertisement every time we publish a piece about third party software? We do not accept money or any other form of payment for anything we publish on AppleInsider. Period. I've said this countless times over the years and I'll say it again now.

Kasper
EIC- AppleInsider.com
Questions and comments to : kasper@appleinsider.com
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EIC- AppleInsider.com
Questions and comments to : kasper@appleinsider.com
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post #22 of 39
The sound track alone on this one is worth the money!
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"Some of us are decent people who want to stay out of the emergency room, but still
blast through neo-gridlock traffic in residential districts whenever we feel like it....
For that we need fine...
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post #23 of 39
I find that I can't enjoy gaming on the iPhone, due to the battery. I feel that if I do anything except make calls and simple browsing then the battery will run out and I will miss an important call.
post #24 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

I find that I can't enjoy gaming on the iPhone, due to the battery. I feel that if I do anything except make calls and simple browsing then the battery will run out and I will miss an important call.

I agree. A friend and I have both found ourselves running the battery on our iPhones out due to playing TapDefense. Games that need CPU (most of them) use the battery rather quickly. I will now only play TapDefense while my iPhone is plugged in. Here's hoping that the major new feature of next year's iPhone refresh is a beefier battery.
post #25 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

I find that I can't enjoy gaming on the iPhone, due to the battery. I feel that if I do anything except make calls and simple browsing then the battery will run out and I will miss an important call.

I've player Brothers in Arms for about 30 minutes at a time and my battery meter barely moved. How old is your phone and is it 2.5G or 3G?

Prolonged gaming will take the battery down. Even a PSP is only meant to last 3-5 hours.

Apple has some tips on how to save battery life:

http://www.apple.com/batteries/iphone.html
post #26 of 39
Looks nice. It's good to see Apple taking gaming (semi)seriously at last. I have an idea for a game i think would be very well suited to the iPhone but am not sure how to go about making it - how easy is it to learn to write a program for the iphone?
post #27 of 39
Seriously, this is the first "killer app?"

Don't get me wrong. It looks like a fun game, and is probably worth the $10. But, when I think "Killer App." I think of something I just couldn't live without. Show me turn by turn GPS car navigation or something else that would make a majority of iPhone users jump for joy and you will have the first "Killer App."

Actually, there are already a number of very desirable applications for the iPhone and I've been very happy with most of them.
post #28 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunks View Post

Looks nice. It's good to see Apple taking gaming (semi)seriously at last. I have an idea for a game i think would be very well suited to the iPhone but am not sure how to go about making it - how easy is it to learn to write a program for the iphone?

It's hard to say for a given person, but in general, I think the more flexible you are with programming and the more experience you have programming, the better off you will be. I'd suggest buying an iPhone programming book, but I don't think there is one yet for writing native programs. At least for myself, I usually find it easier to start with a third party book to help get the basic grasp of the system before jumping into unfamiliar territory with first party documentation.
post #29 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kasper View Post

Guys, Sam is from Europe, so his dialect and writing style may be a bit different from what everyone is used to on AppleInsider. Give him a chance, please. And why is it that we're accused of running an advertisement every time we publish a piece about third party software? We do not accept money or any other form of payment for anything we publish on AppleInsider. Period. I've said this countless times over the years and I'll say it again now. Kasper

Well said. I'm tired of the constant sniping about grammar and pronunciation. This is a comments website not an English language class!
post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunks View Post

Looks nice. It's good to see Apple taking gaming (semi)seriously at last. I have an idea for a game i think would be very well suited to the iPhone but am not sure how to go about making it - how easy is it to learn to write a program for the iphone?

Firstly, if you have an attitude, i.e., to say, "It's good to see Apple taking gaming (semi)seriously at last." and you are interested in developing an app for the iPhone, drop it.

Secondly, to your question, "How easy is it to learn to write a program for the i[P}hone?" the answer, is, "It is relevant."

If you have programming experience, like to program, have the time and resources to program and most of all, "like to learn", it will be easier.

Best you start here: http://developer.apple.com/iphone/index.action

Then sign up and get the iPhone SDK. Really serious, pay the $99 and join the forum and the iPhone Tech Talks. If you have at least a good understanding of C for example, you can get most of what you need starting right from the Apple Developer Connection (ADC) site: http://developer.apple.com/

Do your own research. Note, there are a dozen ways to create an iPhone app. There are a dozen books on how and another dozen on how to on how. There is no absolute consensus on where to start: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=611734

Still interested, check out, for example, Mark's books and Knaster's, i.e., Learn C on the Mac, Learn Objective-C on the Mac, Beginning iPhone Development, which are available electronically. http://www.apress.com/book/search?se...x=0&submit.y=0

Get a small bunch of buddies with the same bent and share the load. Stay in/go to school.

Keep an open mind.

And forget about getting knowledgeable help from here.
post #31 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kasper View Post

Guys,

Sam is from Europe, so his dialect and writing style may be a bit different from what everyone is used to on AppleInsider. Give him a chance, please. And why is it that we're accused of running an advertisement every time we publish a piece about third party software? We do not accept money or any other form of payment for anything we publish on AppleInsider. Period. I've said this countless times over the years and I'll say it again now.

Kasper

Kaspar, are you saying the articles I've seen here before with clickable links that go to Amazon (for example) do not pay AppleInsider with Amazon's affiliate program? You get no compensation whatsoever? Come on.

And are you also saying none of the writers are compensated by the companies or products they cover? Is there a written policy that is enforced, and if it's enforced, how do you check?

Thanks.

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post #32 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by lemoose View Post

Hmm, looks like a pretty straight rip of Loco Roco for the PSP...

That was my thought when reading through this article. But, hey, Loco Roco-lite + Mr. Scruff can't be all bad!
post #33 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Kaspar, are you saying the articles I've seen here before with clickable links that go to Amazon (for example) do not pay AppleInsider with Amazon's affiliate program? You get no compensation whatsoever? Come on.

And are you also saying none of the writers are compensated by the companies or products they cover? Is there a written policy that is enforced, and if it's enforced, how do you check?

Thanks.

Not if they want to keep working. Most print magazines and newspapers wouldn't allow it.

And especially, if they are members of the Society of Professional Journalists and abide by their Code of Ethics http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

Companies in particular would not advertise in a mag if the thought that its writers were being paid or getting gifts, etc. from other advertisers.
post #34 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

I've player Brothers in Arms for about 30 minutes at a time and my battery meter barely moved. How old is your phone and is it 2.5G or 3G?

Thanks for the link. I have the 3G version and find I have to charge it every day, or it runs out late in the second day.
post #35 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abster2core View Post

Not if they want to keep working. Most print magazines and newspapers wouldn't allow it.

And especially, if they are members of the Society of Professional Journalists and abide by their Code of Ethics http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

Companies in particular would not advertise in a mag if the thought that its writers were being paid or getting gifts, etc. from other advertisers.

How many times have I heard arguments on whether or not AI qualifies as a true journalistic endeavor? Every time I call 'em like I see 'em, I get a counter-argument that they are not a real news site, just a rumor site. But if that were the case, then why is AI regularly cited by mainstream news organizations as a source of breaking/secret Apple news? Do we just chalk it up to lazy editors or gutted news organizations looking for the next scoop?

I say, if they expect to be taken seriously as a source of news (including rumors and innuendo) they must adhere to journalistic ethics and practices, which includes editing their "reporters" stories.

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post #36 of 39
It seems these days that every time I look at a blog there are dozens of comments from the 'grammar patrol'.

Surely, these armchair critics are missing the point. Blogging is not about 'speeking crect grammer'. It's about expressing yourself. Expressingly yourself freely in a human, flawed way.

I would no more correct a blogger for the odd missplaced contraction than I would correct a bloke down the pub for using an incorrect tense. Life, frankly, it too short.
post #37 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Truth42 View Post

It seems these days that every time I look at a blog there are dozens of comments from the 'grammar patrol'.

Surely, these armchair critics are missing the point. Blogging is not about 'speeking crect grammer'. It's about expressing yourself. Expressingly yourself freely in a human, flawed way.

I would no more correct a blogger for the odd missplaced contraction than I would correct a bloke down the pub for using an incorrect tense. Life, frankly, it too short.


I do agree that some people have been too fussy about grammar. I don't even think the original complaint for this story was a valid one. Even if it is, it is a minor one. My personal attitude is that I try not to say anything unless it's confusing, such as typos that chang a word to look like a different word that's still valid in context, or "This sentence no verb." kind of confusing.

On the "it's just a blog" argument, I think AI is trying to be more than just a blog.

There is an email address or a form for submitting corrections, though I don't remember what that is.
post #38 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I do agree that some people have been too fussy about grammar. I don't even think the original complaint for this story was a valid one. Even if it is, it is a minor one. My personal attitude is that I try not to say anything unless it's confusing, such as typos that chang a word to look like a different word that's still valid in context, or "This sentence no verb." kind of confusing.

This from the guy who thought Barack Obama's motto was "CHANG"! Just kidding.

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post #39 of 39
Ok back to the subject at hand.

Here are gameplay videos of Rolando:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=hL0yaEaKiSM
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=1JZ-PsduAyg

It has some gameplay elements of Lemmings in there. I still wouldn't call it a killer app and certainly not 'Apple's Mario'. The reason being that Mario was a genre-defining game and spawned a whole franchise that has lasted over a decade.

This is just another quirky game that tries to mash gameplay elements from already popular games together and come off as unique. It's good to see better production values in iphone software but the platform needs better than this to gain traction in the gaming community. Perhaps not so much better in the genre that Rolando is in but rather this level of quality and higher in a variety of genres.

One app I was happy to see on the app store was 1112 episode 01 - a more adult, story-driven game like the old point-and-click adventure games. I think that this is an ideal genre for the iphone and there should be more of these type of games. The old games like Discworld, one or two of the Monkey island series, Still Life, Post Mortem, Syberia were epic games. They do tend to have a lot of pre-rendered game assets though, which makes them a bit bulky in size.
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