Roogoo Attack Review for Nintendo DS

Roogoo Attack Review for Nintendo DS

Square Peg, Round Hole

For years, the puzzle genre has been all about falling 2-D blocks and match-three boards. Even decades after their original releases, new versions (not to mention clones) of Tetris and Dr. Mario still come out regularly. Toss in Bejeweled and its countless imitators, and you have an entire industry of puzzle-game developers churning out the same material over and over again.

Roogoo Attack screenshot

In times like these, it’s nice to see a game with a fresh mechanic. The Roogoo series deserves lots of credit on that front, with a central concept we’ve never seen in a game before. Unfortunately, as the new Roogoo Attack shows, this concept just isn’t all that fun in practice.

To play the game, you control circular discs with oddly shaped holes cut into them. Blocks fall from the sky, and you have to rotate each disc so that the shape of the falling block matches the shape of the hole it’s headed toward. If you succeed, the block passes through the hole, and if you fail enough times, you have to re-try the puzzle.

It’s almost absurdly simple, not unlike the games toddlers play with their toys, but with 100 stages and three skill levels available, Roogoo Attack provides a lot of value for the money. By linking the DS to the Wii’s Roogoo: Twisted Towers via wireless, you can unlock an additional 20 levels. However, despite the extra content, it’s a little bit obnoxious: why do customers have to purchase two games to get the full value out of one?

Roogoo Attack screenshot

As the game wears on, the tasks become increasingly difficult, and Roogoo Attack eventually turns into a very demanding test of players’ dexterity and reaction time – the pieces fall quickly, and in some levels a second piece will fall before the first is finished. In others, in place of blocks, the game throws a series of objects at you (such as a nest, followed by an egg, and then a chicken) that you have to stack in order on the disc. In other levels, enemies protect some of the holes, and to get rid of them you have to line up the block early and hit A (which makes it fall quickly, bonking the evil hole-blocker on the head). There are also levels where you control a skydiver who must collect blocks.

Even with all this challenge and variety, however, the game can’t overcome its fundamental flaw: spinning a disc around to let blocks pass through just isn’t very fun. Small children might be amused, at least until the game gets too hard for them, but it’s difficult to imagine an adult playing more than two or three puzzles at a time. Also, because of this flaw, it’s easy to get frustrated and give up when the puzzles start requiring multiple tries. Who wants to match one shape to another and fail? It’s like early childhood all over again, except without the excuse of an underdeveloped brain.

Roogoo Attack screenshot

This lack of a fun factor is a shame, because on a technical level, this is a well-put-together game. Navigating the menus is a snap, with all the available options immediately at your fingertips. The screen bursts with color, and the 3-D graphics run smoothly and look good. It doesn’t exactly max out the DS hardware, but it’s evocative of the better Nintendo 64 games, so it’s hard to think of another puzzler that’s this visually impressive. Also, the sound effects work well, and though the background tunes give off a bit of an elevator-music vibe, it takes a long time for them to get overly annoying.

Roogoo Attack screenshot

Regarding controls, the one complaint we have is that at first it’s hard to reliably spin the discs in the right direction (right to turn clockwise, left counterclockwise). When you’re looking at the bottom half of the disc, it feels like the left button should move those holes to the left (that is, pushing left should rotate the disc clockwise). Since the DS can’t tell where the player is looking, though, we’ll readily admit we can’t think of a better way to do it.

Roogoo Attack also features multiplayer, as well as a half-hearted story that ties the puzzles together without getting in the way – the Meemoos are out of control on the planet Roo, and you have to stop them by collecting the powerful meteors. If you find the game more engrossing than we did, you can revisit old stages whenever you want, which means you can get a lot of use out of the cartridge even if you get stuck on some of the more difficult puzzles.

At the end of the day, Roogoo Attack is a flawless execution of an original, but unfortunately mediocre, idea. It’s not like any other game on the market, there’s a lot of content, and the graphics are great, but all of that amounts to little when the gameplay doesn’t make you want to come back. This isn’t a game we’ll be playing very much, but thanks to the superb work on display here, we will be paying attention to whatever developer SpiderMonk Entertainment does next.

This is a colorful, great-looking game, reminiscent of some of the better Nintendo 64 titles. 3.8 Control
We found ourselves turning the wrong way a lot at first, but there’s probably no way to solve this problem. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sound effects work, and while the songs are a little elevator music-esque, they don’t grate for a while. 2.8

Play Value
There’s a lot of value, with 100 puzzles and three skill levels, but the game isn’t very fun to play.

3.2 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Ten environments with 100-plus action-packed levels.
  • Connect the game to Roogoo: Twisted Towers on the Wii to unlock additional levels in both games.
  • Single- and multi-card play featuring six-plus different multiplayer attacks such as Meemoo Attack, Anvil Attack, and Air Mine.
  • Butterflies, bats, and other flying creatures take your shapes backwards in reverse gameplay.
  • World map overview for showing progress of levels and difficulty.
  • Based on the critically acclaimed XBLA game Roogoo.
  • Charming art style and fresh, innovative gameplay.

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