Like an epidemic that resurfaces at irregular intervals, the ball season is upon us again. You know the sort of thing - small ball versus holes, ramps and various ball-breaking devices in a quest to get to the other side. Funny thing about this one is that it has a fairly original title. Rainbow Arts must have lost its marbles.
Anyways, the low-down on the situation is this. You must guide your ball past various obstacles and explore each of the 32 levels. The levels are divided up into seven continents, each with its own signature tune and particular terrain characteristics. Graphically amazing, a lot of thought has gone into the backgrounds and the various features to enable them to be highly detailed and visually entertaining and yet prevent them from becoming confusing.
The path to enlightenment is not easy, for it is strewn with many hazards and temptations. In some places the way is not only eightfold, but is twisting the concepts of Euclidean geometry. Waiting for someone or something to show you the way won't do much good. But you can always look at the map, where detail will be revealed to a depth indicated by the number of eyes you have picked up. Consequently, on the first two levels you will find as much useful information on it as on the back of a packet of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.
The problems are mostly logical - you come across a hole in your path so you have to fill it in. Or there is a colour-coded lock so you need the corresponding key. Some problems are a little more obscure. You discover an unpleasant acid bath in your way and there doesn't seem to be any other route. It's probably something to do with one of those mysterious levers that are hanging around. Further doubt is cast on the raison d'etre of the eggs that appear occasionally. Rolling over them smashes them, but aside from that it appears to have no other effect. Perhaps you're just an Edwina fan.
There are not eight million ways to die, merely three. You can run out of energy by being hit by explosions or energy barriers and the like, you can run out of time on certain levels or you can just fall off the world. Not everything is out to get you - magnets, fans and arrows just want to tell you were to go. It is a bad idea to get into the habit of doing the obvious. After racing through scores of electric barriers you will find that every time you see one you will have a Pavlovian urge to dash through it. (For further reference look out for the Little Green Man theory in my forthcoming paper on the psychological aspects of crossing the road.) Often as not there is a way round it if you are cunning.
The only thing which quells my rampant enthusiasm for Rock 'n' Roll is the apparent lack of a save option. When you've made it to level six it would be nice to be able to start off from there. Perhaps this is a move to increase the durability of the game, something I feel is not necessary because there are always things to explore.
Mouse control is excellent. As soon as I got over the initial frantic paddling stage I found that pixel perfection was possible. The way the ball animates with spots going around helps the feeling of motion, and hence the ease of control. Sound is not quite what you may have expected from the title but is nevertheless pleasing and plentiful. Worth hooking up to the hi-fi.
Rock 'n' Roll is the best of this genre so far, possibly due to its greater dependance on brain power than mouse power. One thing is confusing me though - where are the sex and drugs?
It's a fast, real-time puzzle game, where you have to let your ball out of a labyrinth. You have to use the mouse to control the ball. It features fine graphics and very good background music.
People who downloaded Rock 'n Roll have also downloaded:
Rick Dangerous 2, Rick Dangerous, Rainbow Islands, Secret of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge AGA, Shadow of the Beast 1, Speedball, Secret of Monkey Island, The, Populous 1
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