For years the gaming industry has been obsessed with rolling balls. From the early Marble Madness days right up to more recent releases like Marble Blast Ultra and Marble Void, if you give us a sphere, before requesting we take it to the other end of a maze, chances are us gamers will take you up on the offer.
On A Roll 3D is the latest title to make the most of our love of spherical objects, playing out as a simple side scrolling puzzle platformer as we’re given the opportunity to navigate a basic ball across 24 levels. But does it come with the same draw as those games which have gone before it?
Well, you know what, it’s pretty good fun – provided you are happy with the very simplistic gameplay elements.
On A Roll 3D has seen Battenberg Software take what you will be all too familiar with – a 2D side scrolling platformer – before inserting a few 3D moments which help provide a little more of a test. Rolling your ball through the levels ahead is a reasonably easy task, with multiple twists and turns coming into play to ensure that you really do get a grip on the rolling and jumping that this little ball is capable of. Should you be willing to take your time though, then chances are that it won’t be until you find yourself moving on up to the latter stages of the game will any real test come to the fore; for all intents and purposes, this is a relatively simple playthrough.
Navigating your way, mostly from the left to right, is a cinch and the controls that enable you to do so work well. You’ll need them too for rolling a ball along a single path wouldn’t make for much of a game and it is here where the inclusion of multiple obstacles comes into play. Whilst the ‘3D’ elements are pretty negligible and are just seemingly put in to make an otherwise basic roller a bit more fancy, depending on whether you are taking in the four levels found in each of the Garden Trail, Marble Ruins, Frozen Wilderness, Industrial Highway, Moonlight Meadow or Concrete City worlds, you’ll be needing to jump over and through the likes of spikes, mines, lasers and saws. Drop in conveyor belts that push you along or try to halt your progress, springs which help you leap to higher platforms and switches that have to be hit in order to see doors open, and you’ll understand that a little bit of ball-control will be needed. Even more so when you come up against the addition of some enemy balls – although these are pretty scarce in numbers and easily despatched.
None of the obstacles will really prove too much of a hassle though, and it would have been nice to see a little more of a test put into On A Roll 3D, with combinations of barriers no doubt proving a tougher ask of skills than seeing you hop over one, before stopping to refocus and tackle the next. With little reason to really rush through proceedings – other than to speedrun and place higher on the global leaderboards – a frantic nature and a push of your skills is rarely found.
Making your way through each of the levels will also see you given the opportunity to hunt down stars, which work just like Sonic’s rings, providing you with an extra life force should the worst come to the worst. You’ll be grateful for them too as every now and then the hit boxes surrounding your little ball are seemingly just off, with the odd death occurring when you are least expecting it. Thankfully checkpoints are well placed and whilst being hit once will affect your chances of perfecting a stage, the safety of the stars – and the odd health addition should you be able to hunt them down – will mean that making it through to the end of each stage is a straightforward affair. And once you’ve got 3 levels of each world out of the way, a fourth allows you to go up against a big boss.
These always take the form of one of the smaller enemies that have been found before it and even though the little guys that frequent the levels with their spikes, jumping abilities and transforming ways will be a cinch to avoid or jump on, it is the bigger guys which provide a bit more of a test. Hopping on their spherical heads in order to remove their health is the way forward and it is here where timings are essential, particularly as they speed up in the limited playzone, becoming more destructive as their health depletes. Again though, much like everything else found in this lovely little rolling scrolling platforming piece of joy, it’s just a matter of time before you finalise their end.
In fact, the only real pressure you are ever going to find with On A Roll 3D on Xbox One is if you are some kind of maniac who just has to be able to perfect everything – in which case a whole ton of multiple playthroughs will need to be undertaken as you learn the ins, outs and hidden secrets of each and every stage, attempting to collect all stars, kill all enemies and not ever get hit in the process. You may well find yourself whizzing through the majority of the levels included in On A Roll 3D in a matter of minutes, but when you need to really knuckle down and nail a perfect stage, it is obvious that precision, timing and patience will be required.
Some lovely bright colours will accompany you through the entire playthrough of On A Roll 3D, and even though this may not be a game that will ever wow on the visual front, it still looks good enough to warrant some indie game action and the change in skin across each of the worlds is appreciated. When you then drop in some simple ideas and the catchy ear-worming theme tune – one that may just be enough to drive you mad after a while – you’ll find a game that still delivers a good degree of ball rolling fun without ever testing your gaming skills too much.
If you enjoy taking charge of a sphere and wish to spend a little time with a simple but fun side scrolling platformer, then you’ll probably like what you find with On A Roll 3D… especially when you consider the low price tag that is attached.