Often when I play through a puzzle game, I find myself pondering the existence of an ancient rulebook. One perhaps made by Alexey Pajitnov, assembled from the collective ideas of PopCap, that reveals the hidden formulae for creating the closest thing to a virtual drug. Maybe it’s passed on from developer to developer, spreading its knowledge like a cast-out magician. Maybe it contains the reasoning behind the coloured blocks or ludicrous scoring systems. But whether it exists or not, there definitely appears to be themes surrounding the puzzle genre that, when applied correctly, have the tendency to make players give up hours of their free time for what is, essentially, meaningless, void-of-plot entertainment. One thing I can say with absolute certainty is that if this guide exists, Pearanha Games followed it word-for-word when making Rollgo.
Rollgo is a game that takes root somewhere between Bejeweled Twist and Trism (that’s likely to sound appealing to many players right off the bat): the player must twist coloured “rollgos” to match them and create chains. The chains are then destroyed when matched once again to a rollgo of the same colour. Simple enough, one might assume, but the game lacks the charm of being instantly playable. Unlike Bejeweled, the tutorial is a must for new players, as some aspects of the game are difficult to pick up due to the fact that the usual mechanics are hidden behind a more complex graphical interface than is usually seen in the genre. Once you’ve grasped that, it’s all standard-fare, colour-matching from then on.
Sticking to the fictitious rulebook, the game includes: a countdown that players must recharge by completing moves; several special rollgos with different abilities; and a system called “Mojo” where players can purchase alternative methods of moving around the board. It may have all been seen before, but as a package, it delivers that required dose of short-term gaming that a huge percentage of iPhone owners are so desperate to get their hands on. However, what it doesn’t have is enough content to sustain a long-term habit: with only one mode, and nothing to entice replayability other than a high-score table, it does leave a lot to be desired if it wants to compete with the big names. Hopefully, Pearanha can address this with future updates – a simple “Endless Mode” or “Speed-Run” option would go a long way.
Simply put, Rollgo is a decent little puzzler with all the polished features of Bejeweled (right down to the pleasant vocal cries of “Good Job” and “Amazing”), but with the added frustration of too few game modes. Thankfully, there’s a free “Lite” version for the try-before-you-buy types, but for persuaded readers, the full game is available now for 59p on the App Store.