Physics puzzles, pinball and boss fights

“Rollers of the Realm” is a pinball-RPG hybrid. The game walks through a heart wrenching story of greed and corruption that is ultimately defeated with the power of pinball.

Produced by Atlas, a subsidiary of the Japanese video game giant Sega, “Rollers of the Realm” gives me mixed feelings. On one hand, Atlas is famous for producing Japanese RPG games with engaging storylines. On the other, having a pinball machine on each level made me skeptical about the game’s mechanics.

There are interesting physical mechanics where the ball is manipulated with flippers, tilting and power ups depending on the character used. Each character has a different ball with unique abilities and statistics including size, damage and triggered events.

I initially thought the game would use an isometric two-dimensional grid common in low budget games that give  the illusion of three-dimensional activities for aesthetic value. After playing a few more levels though, I realize that the game uses a functional three dimensional physics engine, taking factors like momentum and vertical velocities into account become necessary.

Each level isn’t limited to only one room. There are trap doors and interesting transitions using flippers, bumpers or non-player characters to reach another room with loot, chests and adversaries.

Occasionally, the ball can be sent into a secret room where spooky physics puzzles and bonus points reside.

Flippers also take damage so sometimes a level can be a race against time. When a flipper’s health decreases the tips break off until they are reduced to mere stubs. This makes a gap through one’s defenses much larger and succeeding becomes progressively more difficult.

Other strategic features include trapping balls on the flippers and switching characters in order to get to a better position. There are hilarious mechanics such as rodents draining mana. One can’t even run the rats over because the game is PETA friendly.

The color theme and art style looks quaint yet interesting, and reminds me of “Hearthstone.”  The game begins with an adolescent female rogue who travels with her adorable dog Og.
Surprisingly enough, the characters each have voice actors, including Og. Another interesting facet is The Knight, which incorporates the form of a belligerent, drunk and steel plated orb.

The levels have interesting gimmicks and mechanics that introduce new ideas and keep the player engaged. Bonus stats and prerequisite items required to obtain treasure such as a carefully timed maneuver in order to get to a locked chest under an alternate flipper.

The game was a pleasant surprise to play. My low expectations were exceeded with funny dialogue and engaging puzzles. “Rollers of the Realm” was included in the “Humble Weekly Bundle: RPG Edition – Book II: The Quest for King Shlarmatharb’s Sequel!” for the week of May 17.