I can probably tell you the long and boring story of my first pinball machine memories (1972,Gottlieb’s Batter Up, first version, but I also vaguely recall playing Central Park a few years earlier at Coney Island while standing on a rickety wooden crate), but then you’d be fast asleep and drooling in front of your computer instead of up-voting Phantom Compass’ (and friends!) innovative Rollers of the Realm on Steam Greenlight.
The team is working on what’s turning out to be a superb genre-blending mix of old and new ideas that features some excellent pinball action, decent writing and so far, what’s looking to be the makings of an instant hit that absolutely deserves to be on as many platforms as possible. I signed up to get access to a playable version as soon as I heard this was in development, that pre-beta access popped up in my inbox on Friday and after playing the first chapter a few times, I’m definitely recommending anyone even remotely interested in pinball, RPGs and puzzle games to take a nice long look at this one…
The demo allows access to the Rogue character and her talented dog at (but you’ll meet up with others before it’s done) and shows off a few different types of “tables” to play on as well as some nice gameplay that changes based on the story’s advancement. What works is how accessible the game is as it shows you the ropes and actually uses common pinball gameplay such as nudging the table to guide the ball and even a bit of multi-ball action. Drop targets and all sorts of kickers are here (as normal objects such as barrels, fences and such) and there’s a great sense that this team is not only making a great game for new players, but making sure us aged fools get our grins going as we’re sucked into the story.
As combat pops in, the game adds in more pinball, puzzle and RPG bits and also introduces new characters and their special skills – a powerful knight and a healer, both of which can be swapped out on the fly once they’re part of your party. Just peruse that video above for more details and you’ll get where the game is headed, I say. The current demo has what looks like the first of the game’s six chapters and I not only want to see and play more, I want to see this game make a big enough splash that it pops up on anything that can play it (Yep, My Wii U and Vita have been pouting away every time I’ve fired this one up).
Like the Puzzle Quest games, Battle Slots and a few other titles that have mixed unconventional gameplay with RPG elements, Rollers feels fresh and thrilling as it also changes up the concept of pinball more significantly than other developers have done to date. Sure, I love the Zen Pinball series, the still amazing Kyuutenkai Fantastic Pinball on the Japanese Sega Saturn, Devil’s Crush (and to a lesser extent its sequel Dragon’s Revenge) and even the well-intentioned by flawed Flipper Critters gets pulled out and played every so often. RotR manages to outstrip them all thanks to the dev team going “balls out” (hey, it’s officially Punday, therefore you get both barrels!), Rollers of the Realm has BUY me stamped on it in big neon letters.
The game is still on the stove cooking away, but I’m excited about what’s coming and if Phantom Hourglass (and friends!) can get this all working as well as I’m thinking they’re going to, expect to find yourself strangely glassy-eyed and sleepless at odd hours with a “ten more minutes” look on your face. Back with more as Rollers of the Realm progresses – stay tuned.