Game Reviews

Roll in the Hole

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Roll in the Hole

Every once in a while, you come across the video game equivalent of a professional footballer missing an open goal from five yards.

These games represent a painful lost opportunity, and rather than dismiss them out of hand you usually end up lamenting the greatness that could have been.

Roll in the Hole is one such title. It's not a complete failure by any means, but it's impossible to shake the feeling that it could have been so much better.

For what it's worth, the plot of this particular game revolves around a panda with a penchant for ice cream. You control said black-and-white bear, who for some reason moves around not on his limbs but by rolling along the ground.

Roll with in

What follows is a fairly typical physics-based puzzle title. Three ice creams are hidden on each level, and grabbing this tasty trio is essential if you're hankering after maximum points. The stage is complete when you successfully navigate your panda through the swirling exit portal.

Given this premise, one might assume that Roll in the Hole utilises a tilt control system. Bizarrely, that isn't the case. To make your panda roll left or right, you have to touch the left or right side of the screen.

Needless to say, this feels odd – especially on a format which is jam-packed with accelerometer-controlled games.

Tilt trouble

We can see why the developer has decided to adopt this system – movement in Roll in the Hole has a lot to do with momentum and the amount of spin your panda has.

By tapping and holding your finger on the screen, you can get your panda's body to rotate quickly, which means when he touches a firm surface he will careen off in that direction.

Even when you take this into account, there's no getting around the fact that the controls in Roll in the Hole have an almost limitless capacity to frustrate. It's just far too easy to misjudge the speed of the panda and send him hurtling off the side of the screen, an act which unsurprisingly results in you having to restart the level.

And that's before you've added in such variables as bouncy platforms, spike traps, swinging bridges, and blocks of ice, all of which make your journey even more awkward.

Lacking momentum

With such a precise and unforgiving control system, one might expect Roll in the Hole to gently ease players into the challenge, but after only a handful of levels the game ramps up the difficulty considerably.

A sharp difficulty curve isn't a negative thing in itself, and on the occasions where you successfully manage to wrestle your bear to the end of the level the satisfaction is considerable. The problem is that to get to that point you have to endure an almost endless succession of restarts.

Again, we can't help but feel a little sad that Roll in the Hole doesn't quite gel as a game. The visuals are brilliant and the sound is appealing, but the interface just doesn't quite work.

With a little bit of extra development and the introduction of tilt controls, it could have been a lot more successful. As it stands, it's just too tricky to be entirely enjoyable.

Roll in the Hole

Don't be fooled by the sickly sweet visuals – Roll in the Hole has a sadistic difficulty level which is amplified by awkward controls. It might exude a casual aura, but most players will end up as frustrated as a zoo keeper with a pair of endangered but romantically uninterested pandas