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Roogoo Attack! Package Art
SpiderMonk Entertainment
SouthPeak Games

Roogoo Attack!

In most cases, a game that releases with a “budget” price tag is a disaster in waiting. Such games are often the product of a low development budget, and all-too-often are somewhere south of terrible. Worse still, the low price tag is like a Pied Piper to the well-intentioned but uninformed consumer, who is prone to naively scooping up the budget offering and gifting it to an unsuspecting relative for Christmas.

Fortunately, Roogoo Attack! is no such budget title. The game is a puzzler based on the 2008 Xbox Live Arcade title Roogoo, and Roogoo Attack! does a good job in bringing that original XBLA experience over to DS. Better still, the game manages to take an innocuous kids toy and make it into a puzzler that can be both entertaining and seriously difficult.

The core gameplay in Roogoo Attack! is designed around a toddler toy known as a shape sorter. Most people would recognize the premise quickly: four holes in four shapes (circle, square, triangle, star) with colored blocks in those same shapes. The object of a shape sorter, then, is to fit the correct shape into the correct hole. Roogoo Attack! appropriates this idea into a Tetris style approach; shapes systematically drop from the top of the screen and players have to rotate the layers of sorter plates around to put drop shapes through the correct holes. In most cases, the game requires players to collect stacks of shapes, which then drop down to lower levels. These levels end in one of two ways: either by completing the level objectives (normally getting all the shapes to the bottom) or by making enough mistakes to wash out.

As in Tetris, players can opt to speed up the pace of the falling shapes, but unlike Tetris, this tactic bears strategic advantages. Most levels have a timer that counts down, and players receive point bonuses for completing the stage before the timer runs out. Most levels cannot be completed that quickly without accelerating the blocks, but since accelerating can also lead to mistakes and lost blocks -- which in turn leads to lost points -- deciding when to speed up shapes becomes a major part of the game.

Roogoo Attack ScreenshotRoogoo Attack Screenshot

To keep things fresh, the game employs several permutations on the core theme. Some levels drop large stacks of shapes at one time, while others use few. Some levels place obstacles in the way (such as monsters or timed barriers), while others do not. Later levels even change things up with alterations to the speed or color of the shapes. A few other levels, meanwhile, diverge more substantially from the shape sorter mechanic. Some levels, for example, involve creating a complete object, such as a treasure chest, by guiding the base, treasure, and lid into place, in that order. More dramatically, each main world features a skydiving level which is completely different from the rest of the game, requiring players to rotate in open space, collect colored bricks, and avoid or shoot enemies.

Tying it all together is a paper-thin plot about a corrupted king and a hero out to save the world, a plot which more or less serves as an excuse by which to create the distinct worlds in the game. There are eleven or so distinct worlds in all, each with several different games apiece. All told, Roogoo Attack! is good for over a hundred distinct levels, adding up to at least a few hours from start to finish, not including replay value.

That replay value is achieved in a variety of ways. For one, the game offers three levels of difficulty, and they are all well conceived. The easiest difficulty level is forgiving and a good fit for younger players. The hardest setting, conversely, makes things harder by increasing the speed of the shapes and the penalty for mistakes. Even in the comparatively easier early game levels, the hardest difficulty setting can quickly overwhelm even seasoned adult gamers.

Another additive is the game’s online component, which comes in two flavors. Players can engage other players in local Wi-Fi play, and Roogoo Attack! supports either or single or multi-card versus modes. Additionally, the game can be linked up with the Wii title Roogoo: Twisted Towers to unlock otherwise-inaccessible bonus levels. While full online would have been nice, these additives add at least some value to the overall package and is a nice bonus for a budget title.

Roogoo Attack ScreenshotRoogoo Attack Screenshot

Because most Roogoo Attack! levels only require three inputs, the control scheme is kept flexible by offering a multitude of options. For example, rotating the game’s cutout platforms can be effected either with L and R or with the d-pad. The skydiving character can be moved either by using the L and R or rotating the character using the touch screen and stylus. Left-handed players will also be pleased to note that levels allowing for stylus play also allow use of either the d-pad or face buttons for the same actions.

Finally, the presentation of Roogoo Attack! isn’t system-pushing, but it gets the job done. The art style is simple but nice, even if development of the cute characters is negligible. The game’s graphical polish is about average for DS games and works well enough that it doesn’t impede gameplay. The music is pretty pedestrian but isn’t grating. There is no voicework.

Overall, Roogoo Attack! is a pretty solid offering. The game’s toddler toy roots belie a challenging, addictive property. What’s more, the addition of multiple difficulty levels, high scores, and local and Wii-specific additions gives this game a lot of value. The game does suffer some shortcomings -- it only allows one profile, the plot is nonexistent, and the lack of online multiplayer is a letdown -- but that doesn’t keep this game from being a pleasant surprise. And at just $20, it’s inexpensive as well. Recommended.

final score 7.5/10

Staff Avatar Joshua Johnston
Staff Profile | Email
"Round 1! Fight!"

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