Roogoo Attack is harmless enough, but unlike the best puzzlers, it won't get under your skin.
- Pleasant take on the block-dropping formula
- Nice variety of environments
- A few levels mix in some clever gameplay variants.
- Skydiving levels don't control well
- Lacks challenge until the final few areas
- Unexciting multiplayer.
The years pass by and the blocks keep tumbling. Roogoo Attack is the latest in a long line of puzzle games in which objects fall from the heavens, though it takes that tradition and ushers it into 3D space. Roogoo won't keep you glued to the DS screen for hours at a time or lull you into that sweet mental groove experienced with the best puzzlers. It will, however, provide a bit of flawed but lighthearted entertainment and an aerobic workout for your index fingers.
In Roogoo, up to five different types of colored blocks--green triangles, blue cubes, yellow stars, red cylinders, and pink hearts--fall from above and toward rotating discs with those same shapes cut out of them. They fall individually or in stacks, and your job is to rotate the discs so that the blocks can pass through, which you do with the L and R buttons (the more precise solution) or the D pad. The game chooses which platform can be rotated at any given time based on the pattern of blocks as they fall and the number of each type of block the platform holds. It's a simple concept, and the majority of Roogoo's levels are rather short and easy to complete. Nevertheless, for some levels, you will need to keep your eyes closely locked on the screen and your fingers extra-nimble, particularly if you want to beat the puzzle's par completion time.
Like its Wii and Xbox 360 cousins, Roogoo throws in a few obstacles to hinder the progress of your stacks of shapes. You cope with platforms that flip; holes with lids that open and close; and butterflies that steal your blocks and pull them upward, forcing you to view the discs from underneath while you rotate them. In later levels, stacks of blocks will have two different shades of the same color, which requires you to flip them over to ensure that like hues are touching when one stack falls onto another. Creatures called meemoos provide the most frequent hindrance by standing on the holes. To deal with them, you must thump them on their heads by speeding up your blocks. Platforms crowded with meemoos are fun to tackle, given that you can off the lot of them with a single shape and some furious disc spinning and head bopping.
Yet even with these hindrances thrown in, Roogoo Attack isn't as challenging as the versions that appear on other platforms. The game is split into 11 sets of levels, and you aren't likely to break a sweat until you reach set nine. At that point, the levels become surprisingly difficult, which requires a mental adjustment; it's as if a set of moderately challenging transition levels went missing. Unfortunately, the level of difficulty of the late levels plunges into unfair waters due to infrequent but annoying problems with visual obscurity. At times, the camera view of the active platform is more from the side than from the top; tall stacks of blocks will then mask your line of sight, making it difficult to locate the halo of light that identifies where the falling shapes will land. This flaw is especially exasperating when you must handle multihued stacks because you may not be able to see the shade you need to match if the stack is toward the rear of the platform and hidden by the stacks in the front.
Some levels provide clever variations on the block-dropping theme. Instead of unleashing blocks, Roogoo might unleash nests, eggs, and hens that you must stack in the proper order; in later stages, you will stack snowmen and hamburgers in the same manner. The most challenging levels involve dealing with various combinations of these items, in addition to meemoos, flapping lids, and the like. Provided you aren't struggling with an awkward camera angle, these levels are tough but satisfying to complete and provide variety just when the ordinary disc turning starts to feel tedious. There are also some shoot-'em-up excursions meant to offer additional variety. These levels play something like the arcade game Tempest: You spin about the perimeter of the screen, collecting shapes as they rush toward you and shooting down meemoos, aircraft, and anything else that would hinder your journey to the bottom. Sadly, these scenes aren't much fun because they don't control well. You can use the stylus to spin around, which is functional but feels too slippery to be precise. Nevertheless, it is preferable to use the touch controls rather than the L and R buttons to spin; using those buttons makes skydiving so clunky and inexact, you'll want to skip past it entirely.
You'll get a more pleasant sense of diversity from Roogoo's succession of interesting environments. You spin discs against mountainous backdrops; above beautiful green meadows; and within a dark, ominous city. The environments are simple but appealing, and there's a nice sense of progression in each locale as you advance through the levels it contains. Less diverse: the game's multiplayer options. You can compete with up to three other players to see who can complete levels in the shortest amount of time and even unleash special attacks on them (plant meemoos on their platforms, for example). It's great that you only need a single card to enjoy some puzzling action with your buddies, but Roogoo's core gameplay is too plain and predictable to make for multiplayer thrills.
Roogoo Attack is too innocuous to out-and-out dislike, but too inconsistent to love. Considering the selection of high-quality puzzle games available on the DS--Meteos, Picross, and so on--this latest addition comes up short. Yet in spite of its flaws, Roogoo Attack is a likable game that may satisfy your hunger for a new puzzler until something better comes along.