*Originally posted by Lisa on AppTudes.
PoPo, the roly-poly panda star of this new game from Chillingo, Roll in the Hole HD (universal – also available for iPhone and iPod touch only, $.99) has a problem. Well several actually, but the biggest is that he is always hungry. And his diet consists of one thing only. No, not bamboo – ice cream of course. His other problems revolve around how to get his tummy’s full without going splat.
Ok so forget realism, this clever and cute new game, which picked up some buzz in early summer at E3, has been released in what seems to be the new convention. An HD universal app, and a less expensive iPhone and iPod touch only version. It has all the hallmarks of a hit.
Like other Chillingo smashes, it features a cute little critter on a mission. The game has 72 levels over four worlda of physics puzzling with cute clean graphics and attainable goals.
This is an action-puzzler, albeit a somewhat slow moving one. The object is to control PoPo’s roll over a variety of surfaces from bouncy platforms to slippery ice to sticky grass so he can amass the three treats per level and jump into the vortex that takes him to the next challenge.
As usual each world has a series of sequentially unlockable levels. Successful completion opens the next, there are three stars to be earned based on how many of the treats are eaten, and a time bonus. But. The game allows for endless level skips and restarts which is good, because it can take some time to get a feel for control-sensitivity.
To stop cheats like me from trying to get too far too fast, however, a certain number of stars are also required to enter a new world.
When picking this game up on an iPhone it’s hard to not try to use the non-existent tilt controls. Instead on all devices the controls are touch-based. Players hold or tap the right side of the screen to get PoPo rolling that way or touch left to go the other way.
But the current set-up doesn’t allow for much control when PoPo starts rolling at a good clip. Part of the challenge is deciding when to steer him the other way, but in the end I found the only way to beat most levels is to take it slow. That’s a real frustration factor.
Tilt controls are an option to consider, but I think with a little fine-tuning this current control scheme could be great. There just needs to be some way to control how hard to spin in the opposite direction.
Beyond that, Roll in the Hole HD shines as a casual puzzler that will appeal to gamers across ages and genders. The graphics are appealing; there is Crystal and Game Center integration and the promise of more levels to come. It may not usurp Angry Birds and Cut the Rope as Chillingo’s top puzzlers, but it’s a nice return to their roots that is well worth the pick up if those others appeal.
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