|System: Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Hudson Soft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Hudson Soft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 23, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Casual games, or what we refer to as such today at least, are a somewhat strange river to navigate for people who take their video games seriously. It may be good fun to have a game that's easy and mundane enough that you can play for a few minutes at a time, but for negotiating the fun factor for easy design is by no means a simple task.
How exactly can a developer go about creating a game that's easy to play and fun in short spurts, yet hold gamers' attention for longer? Take, say, puzzle games, which are casual insofar as they offer an addictive experience that's easy to learn but hard to master (the good ones, anyway). Tower defense, on the other hand, is a design that barely even qualifies as a game, considering very little interaction with any adversaries actually happens with you commanding the action as it happens. While casual games can mean different things for different people, the point is that the simplicity of their design means you're probably either going to like the game right away or you're not. Rooms: The Main Building isn't going to hold much appeal for many gamers.
The reason for this is simple: slide puzzles. Yes, Rooms actually hearkens back to the days of (most of) our youths, where simple 'analogue' games like slide puzzles and marble mazes could hold our attention for longer than just a few minutes. But, much in the same way that most people would never want to play a pinball game on a console when they could just go to a bar and play the real thing, the translation from real life to a digital game isn't needed. And, in the case of slide puzzles, which don't hold much long-term demand in the first place, whatever limited appeal is there is even less than pinball. In the game's defense, they did try to make the game a little more interesting than literally moving jumbled pictures around (like you might see in a survival horror game) to make a complete image. But, it kind of misses the point anyway.
What Rooms, such as it is, makes an attempt at doing is straddling the line between a straight-up puzzle game and, for lack of a better comparative design, a point-and-click adventure. Rather than simply interacting with the slide puzzles from an objective point of view, your role is actually subjective-meaning you're inside the puzzle itself (this is made possible thanks to a poorly-written story in which you get stuck in a world where all the environments are discombobulated and need to be arranged back together. Yes, this is about as exciting as it sounds. Needless to say, when you enter into a room, there's a series of other rooms which can or can't be connected depending on barriers that would force you to take other paths. You can move around a room, but there's no point if you can't connect it to another, which is where the slide puzzle mechanic comes in (you can move a room to any open space).
In order to successfully make it through a level, however, you have to use objects in the rooms to do so. Locked doors need keys, getting to rooms above you requires a ladder, and so on. As a way of trying to spice up the tedium of simply adjusting things to get from point A to point B, the developers even included some extra mechanics, like having to blow up wooden barriers with TNT, teleporters, and closets that swap room placement.