Rolando Micro Review: The iPhone's Better LocoRocoS

I've been all over the place on Rolando. When I first saw the idea for this LocoRoco-esque iPhone game I was eager to play. When it finally arrived, it struck me as too LocoRoco.

But a tilt-control puzzle game with catchy music and interesting art should be a sure thing, right?

Loved
Concept: Combing the tilt-a-world idea of LocoRoco with the ability to touch the screen to interact with the landscape and those ball-like Rolandos is a perfect fit for the iPhone. The game's on-the-fly save system, which updates the home screen's icon for the game, is another nice touch. It's obvious this is a game plugged deeply into all of the iPhone's abilities.

Depth of Play: The game starts out feeling an awful lot like LocoRoco. In fact, it feels so much like the Playstation Portable game initially that it aggravated me. But as you work your way through the game's 36 levels, Rolando quickly comes into its own, moving past what the PSP title did to deliver a different experience, one with much more depth and difficulty.

Controls: Tilting your iPhone back and forth gets the Rolando balls rolling across the scenery. Tapping the screen gets them to jump. Pretty familiar stuff. But later on you get to draw lines that characters can roll across, explode bombs with a touch, shift conveyor belts, open trap doors, even defy gravity.

Rolando is a surprisingly deep and enjoyable game, so far the most enjoyable game I've played on the iPhone and I've played a lot. While the character design never managed to completely win me over, I eventually came to love Mikko Walamies' swirling backdrops.

The real delivery, though, is in the game's clever level design and use of the iPhone's accelerometer and multi-touch surface. This game does things that could not be done on any other gaming platform and it pulls it off without feeling like a gimmick.

Rolando was developed by Hand Circus and published by ngmoco:) on Dec. 18 for $10. Finished the game.

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