SolaRola--iOS-Review SolaRola- iOS Review

   13/08/2012 at 09:53       Phil May       0 COMMENTS. - Score 2/5
 - SolaRola, Square Enix, iOS, Universal, App

Platform games on the iPad are ten a penny and the one thing we always harp on about here at AATG Towers is the control methods they use. If they don't work, if they're not fine tuned enough, and if they're merely touch-screen mockups of digital D-Pad controls, we know that the game's going to instantly be a bit of a duffer. 

Likewise we have the same contempt for anything tilt-controlled. Tilting the screen on an iPhone is bad enough. Tilting the iPad resplendent in its anti-scuff case, really doesn't lend itself well to a comfortable gaming experience. 

At first, SolaRola instantly feels awkward to play because you're only given the choice between these control methods. Tilt is the option that feels most natural - because using tilt controls makes the game feel a little bit more like the game it's blatantly ripping off - LocoRoco - rather than just another platform game. Using the on screen controls the game is nigh on impossible, so we stuck with tilt for the time being. 


SolaRola has a throwaway premise. You're stranded on a planet, you're a cute blob, and you need to find bonus items to power up your rocket to escape. Simple enough, and for those of you who've never played the Kongregate original freebie game, Sola Rola has been extensively reworked with new graphics and sound effects. We'll talk about the latter a bit later on.

Essentially it's a very lovely looking game and the action is smooth and intuitive. You're guided through some simple tutorial levels before you're let loose on the real puzzles but SolaRola has wide appeal. Hardened gamers might defrost their ice-covered hearts long enough to like the gameplay, while youngsters will love the characters and lush backgrounds (which look a lot like the early Rayman games). 

All the usual platform mainstays crop up in SolaRola, but it's the addition of a few physics-based puzzles that lifts it above the parapet enough to make gamers take notice. Later levels layer on the complexity with puzzles ranging from pixel-perfect jumps to swinging around on the end of ropes. Not easy for a character with no arms!

There are a few annoying bugs and broken elements of gameplay that had me reaching for the home button to quit. Waz (your blob character) has a tendency to get hopelessly stuck from time to time (I managed to completely lock up the game by getting stuck under a pneumatic lift at one point fairly early on in my planetary explorations). But it's the sound effects that will probably cause more instances of rage-quitting than anything else. Every time Waz jumps, he's accompanied by an annoying squeak-fart-screech and after 5 minutes of this you're ready to jump out of the window. After an hour long session with some of the more complex levels you're ready to delete the app never to play it again (unless of course you're smart enough to mute the effects and music, it does actually play fairly well in total silence). So 0 marks out of 10 for that particularly nasty piece of sonic design. 

Elsewhere it feels exactly like what it is, a slightly tidied up flash game that's heavily derivative of its peers. Pretty in places but not nearly original enough to warrant spending your hard earned cash on. Kids might love it, but then kids who've cut their teeth on great iPad games like Cut the Rope and Angry Birds will probably want to move on and play something else once the game's more frustrating puzzles emerge from the mist. 

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