Rollerdrome is one of those games where all I want in life is to be good at it. Don’t be fooled or dissuaded by its deceptively simplistic graphical style as, while it looks by no means bad, it is clear the bulk of the effort in development went into making the gameplay as meaty as possible. There’s a lot of challenge packed into this 900MB game, but again, don’t let that put you off as the game does an excellent job of accommodating all play styles and gaming capabilities.
The game takes place across a series of arenas where your objective is simple: Kill all enemies and look cool doing it. Starting with dual wielded pistols and unlocking three other guns as you play, mapped to different D-pad buttons, your roller-skating protagonist has to trick, jump and grind her way around each level to accumulate points. Ingeniously, pulling off sick tricks refills ammo across all your weapons, so it is in your best interest to not just skate between enemies emptying clip after clip and simply dodging as much as you can. There isn’t much variety when it comes to the quantity of levels the game offers, but as stated above regarding the graphics, that really isn’t a problem here. Rollerdrome is a game where the gameplay is all that matters, and the gameplay truly is phenomenal.
When a game manages to make its tutorial exciting you know you’re onto a winner, but where the choices made by the developers during Rollerdrome’s creation truly shine are in its accessibility options. I was really struggling with a couple of mid-game levels and was facing the frankly annoying decision of packing the game in entirely or buckling in to learn every jump and trick in the book to become anywhere close to good at it. Naturally, as I would like to think anyone would, I thought before I make my decision I’d hop into the options menu to see if there was any sort of difficulty slider I could manipulate to make things easier for myself. What met my eyes were every option a sub-par gamer and destroyer of many controllers like myself could wish for!
Invincibility mode. Infinite ammo. Infinite bullet time. They’re all there! After the brutal kicks to my self-esteem the game had just delivered to me, I could have cried with joy. The only caveat to activating any of these options is that your final score from the level won’t be uploaded to any online leaderboards upon completion, but to put it simply: I really could not give a fuck less about that.
I do have complaints about my experience. Some of the enemy health bars feel padded until you unlock later game guns, particularly those who can teleport around the arena or drop shields around themselves. They don’t help the fact there is an element of time constraint on every level, with points heavily deducted upon completion when you go over how long the game thinks you should be completing them in. During an early session I came close to narrowly beating the recommended time only to run out of ammo when shooting the final enemy in the arena, allowing them to teleport to the direct other side so I had to flip and grind over there for the sake of two shots. It’s not a big deal for me as my scores don’t go anywhere because I’m playing with assists on, but I would have been furious if I’d been playing legitimately. I know I shouldn’t complain whilst actively cheating but I’m going to anyway.
I am in no doubt that Rollerdrome will feature heavily on many players favourite game of 2022 lists in December, and my short list of grievances aside I can absolutely recommend it to anyone. Don’t be too proud to slap a couple of assists on while you find your feet with the game if you need to, as it will open you up to a fresh, rewarding and original game concept that simply must be tried by everyone. I had a blast with Rollerdrome, and I score it
9 / 10
Written, edited and images captured by Alexx.
Captions by Will.