Pinball games have been around for a long time and have come in many forms but the latest outing by indie developer Phantom Compass has put a spin on the game of pinball that I don’t think anyone saw coming. Rollers of the Realm is a pinball game that is set in medieval times with corrupt kings and castles of yore. The twist is that this game is an RPG and the characters in your party are the balls. You can do all of the standard RPG actions such as leveling up your party, unlocking new equipment and abilities and hiring new characters to join your party. It is a grand adventure worthy of a knight, or ball, in shining armor.
The Port is where you can upgrade your party or hire hands to assist you in your quest.
Rollers of the Realm is definitely not your fathers pinball game. It is an RPG in every sense of the word in that you have your own party ranging from 3 to 10 members and each of them has their own skills and abilities. You can switch characters on the fly allowing you to attack enemies that may be weaker against certain attacks. Many of the boards will require this tactic in order to complete them. In addition, gameplay doesn’t happen on a table but in fully rendered maps of graveyards, town squares or a blacksmith’s shop to name a few.
The Knight is one of your strongest party members and can be relied on to bring the pain.
The real fun comes when you get the chance to improve your stats so that you can take on the more difficult enemies as you progress through the game. You can upgrade equipment in order to increase the skills and special abilities of your pinball’s. You will also need to do a fair amount of loot hunting so that you have the weapons, gold and mana to keep your party in fighting condition. Treasures and hidden items are bountiful so making sure that you relieve the boards of all of its goodies will make for one badass team. Believe it or not, there is a fun story, plenty of witty banter, brain twisting puzzles and to-the-death combat waiting around every flipper.
Once in the port, you can buy equipment, weapons or buffs for your character. Everything costs gold so try to collect as much as you can when on your journey.
The graphics and sound in Rollers of the Realm are all very well done and really helps to put you in the mood for a ball-flipping romp in a more simpler time. Visuals are done in a cool hand drawn and painted style that gives the game a playful facade and sets the tone of a world filled with knights, smithy’s and wizards. Colors are bright and fun and really sets this game apart from the usual photo realistic visuals of many pinball games already on the market. The voice over work is very fun and the actors skillfully portray the language and speaking accents of people living in medieval Europe. Mixed with a limited amount of the usual pinball sound effects (ie; the sound of the ball hitting a bumper, etc.) it all comes together to create a very unique take on an historic gaming staple.
The Rogue, the Healer and the Knight start out on the quest early on but there is always room for more party members. The more the merrier.
Rollers of the Realm is currently available on Steam for $9.99 which is par for the course as far as digital pinball games go, it seems. While I had a good time playing, there are still some balancing issues that need to be dealt with that Phantom Compass is aware of and is currently working on a patch for. There are some issues with enemies being too powerful as well as with the ball physics on certain boards but nothing that should keep you away from this game. I was amazed at how authentic the game is, considering, and I often felt like I was playing a stand alone pinball machine complete with cigarette burns, spilled soda and quarters on my machine reserving the next game. The later of these issues, of course, being more of a condition of my gaming area than the game itself. If you are into pinball, I would definitely suggest giving this game a try.
You have never played pinball like this before.
+ Fun, fast pinball action
+ Party members are colorful and varied
+ Authentic RPG gameplay
- Enemies can be difficult to defeat
- Ball physics are a little wonky at times