Rollers of the Realm – What We Think
Phantom Compass brings together two unlikely genres with a pinball-based game that is bursting with RPG elements. Though such a pairing isn’t wholly original, Rollers of the Realm combines the genres in some unique ways that will satisfy fans of either camp.
Pick Your Friends, Pick Their Pockets
A orphaned girl makes her living stealthily robbing folks in a city befitting medeival folklore. One day, she happens upon a drunken knight being beaten by the baron’s men. Taking pity on him, she intervenes, only to have her dog taken from her. Grateful for her assistance, the knight agrees to help her retrieve her companion.
In their travels, it becomes clear that the Baron has something truly nefarious in the planning stages. Other characters join the struggle to discover exactly what the Baron is plotting, and if need be, to bring it to an abrupt halt.
Roll With The Punches
Phantom Compass’ implementation of RPG elements to the various character pinballs is nothing short of ingenious. Each ball is weighted differently, making them more or less susceptible to “tilt” effects you can place on a ball while it’s in motion.
Multiball can be achieved by certain characters, like the thief and the hunter, and the additional balls are presented as animal familiars. Certain characters have ranged attacks, blast attacks, and some can even unleash Damage Over Time effects.
The main flippers can sustain damage when enemy archers and mages are on screen. If you don’t manage to thwart these units in a timely fashion, the flippers will actually shorten. It doesn’t take much deterioration to make keeping your player ball(s) in play a far more difficult task. The healer call regenerates the flippers as she collects mana, so keeping her in play is crucial.
Respect My Port Authority
Between stages, you can visit the port to purchase upgrades for all of your team members. You won’t immediately see the effects of your purchases, but after a few are applied, the improvements are more readily discernible.
You can also enlist the help of other helpful travelers, though their loyalty is going to cost you; the number of recruits you can take on is restricted until certain experience levels are reached, ensuring that you can’t stack the deck with these powerful ringers too early on.
The Legend of the Chrome Orb
The tale that envelopes the action is also worthy of note: It may not tread any new ground, but it is solidly written, and expertly delivered by a talented and varied vocal cast. Each new reveal feels tailored to the pinball experience, and never tacked on.
The artwork that accompanies the story is gorgeous, featuring characters that are cartoon-like, but still full of warmth. In a gaming world stuffed to bursting with manga-inspired character models, these original creations are a breath of fresh air. Each stage is beautifully crafted, and the creative placement of flippers ensures that each level has bonuses to unlock for those patient enough to unlock them.
The sound effects capture both the intensity of battle, and the machinations of a pinball cabinet. The soundtrack suits the action, but it’s one element that seems content to merely underline the happenings in the game.
Right Up My Alley
As evidenced in my past writings, I have a massive soft spot for pinball. I love a good RPG, too, but being a parent has seriously limited the ability to sink 60+ hours that so many of the new titles demand. Even before its release, the idea behind this game intrigued me. In the development stage, it came off as a deft fusing of the genres. The finished product certainly delivers on the premise, packing in enough action RPG elements to scratch that itch, and providing a pinball experience that is engaging, challenging and refreshingly novel.
Watch the launch trailer for Rollers of the Realm: