I have always believed that the platform genre is one of the hardest to create and develop on the iOS with one of the hardest parts being the implementation of virtual buttons for controllers and the lack of originality. With Sola Rola, Square Enix has not only embraced that challenge it has taken it out for a meal at a fancy restaurant as well. And, for the most part, it has been successful.
There are six chapters each compromising of ten levels and the opening three chapters serve as an appetiser to the game by getting you used to the various enemies and environmental hazards that will all have the same death related effect on your little red blob. From the fourth chapter onwards the difficulty ramps up and most of the levels will leave you delighted with their clever little puzzles and twisting routes to the finish line. Unfortunately there are also quite a few levels that embrace frustrating gaming tropes such as unfair deaths and unreliable object physics. But as each level is designed to only take a couple of minutes to complete you are not losing hours of gameplay when they do occur and so allows the game to continue at a fairly rapid pace.
Over the course of the 60 levels there are many devices to help you negotiate the level’s environment. These include train tracks, conveyor belts, lifts, springs, ropes, switches and pulleys. As all of these work in different ways within each level you are very rarely repeating the same task over and over again. Just because you used a rope and a switch a certain way in one level doesn’t necessarily mean you will use it in the exact same way in a later level which results in a few head scratching moments in order for you to overcome the level.
In order to aid the players like me who suffer from the well-known touch screen gaming condition known as Fat Fingers, they have included not one but two control methods – Virtual Buttons and the traditional Tilt method. The Tilt controls are very sensitive so it’s hard to stop in an exact spot and although the Virtual Buttons allow you to control your blob more accurately, some people may find the Virtual Buttons too close to each other and will end up going left instead of right and vice versa many times. Even with these flaws in mind overall both control systems work surprisingly well for the majority of the time.
There is plenty of wit and pop culture references within the comic book styled cut scenes, the problem is that the game thinks it’s much funnier than it actually is and the humour comes across as cheesy and groan-worthy more often than laugh or chuckle out loud. This makes it feel like Square Enix couldn’t decide if they wanted to aim the game at adults or kids and decided to try and cater to both.
The replay factor is greatly increased for the gamers who enjoy collectables, with each level having a “hidden” star on the level. How well hidden these stars are range from the easy (drop down a hole to collect) to the nigh on impossible (the star being 4 blobs higher than you can jump with no platforms in the area).
The biggest gripe I had was the annoying sound effects. Every time you jump your little red blob lets out an over enthusiastic “Wheee”, not now and again for the big jumps but every single time you hit the jump button. This takes around 30 seconds to get annoying.
Sola Rola is not a bad game it’s just not an outstanding game either. It does nothing that is original or fresh but that’s not to say that it isn’t enjoyable it just lacks that little spark of creativity that sets the very best games apart. Think less Super Mario and more Zool or Bubsy.
MLG Rating: 5/10 Platform: iOS Release Date: 26/07/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Sola Rola by the promoter for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on an iPhone. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.