Mini-review: Rolando rolls onto the App Store

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    Looks fun.





  • Reply 2 of 39
    This game rules. The first thing worth 9.99 on the whole friggin phone.
  • Reply 3 of 39
    Hmm, looks like a pretty straight rip of Loco Roco for the PSP...
  • Reply 4 of 39
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,949member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 39
    shogunshogun Posts: 361member
    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.
  • Reply 6 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!
  • Reply 7 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.
  • Reply 8 of 39
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


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



    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.
  • Reply 9 of 39
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,229moderator
    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.
  • Reply 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.
  • Reply 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)
  • Reply 12 of 39
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,949member
    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.
  • Reply 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!
  • Reply 14 of 39
    ivladivlad Posts: 740member
    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.

  • Reply 15 of 39
    gqbgqb Posts: 1,934member
    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.
  • Reply 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.
  • Reply 17 of 39
    robb01robb01 Posts: 148member
    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



    ______________

  • Reply 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.
  • Reply 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.
  • Reply 20 of 39
    Well, it looks like I'll be using all the blood money Ngmoco paid me to buy myself some writing lessons!
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